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Pitmad 2020 – September’s Top 25 Tweets & Recap

PitMads are mini battles for agent representation that take place on Twitter every few months, generally tagged as #PitMad. The latest friendly war for the valuable attention of agents took place today, September 3, 2020 from 8 am – 8 pm eastern time. Here are the winners and lessons of this PitMad 2020, as far as a first-time participant and observer. Of course everyone is a winner; some just won more than others.

#PitMad is the original twitter pitch event, where writers tweet
a  pitch for their completed, polished, unpublished manuscripts.
Agents and editors make requests by liking / favoriting the tweeted pitch.”
Pitch Wars

My main purpose in writing this is to track agent engagement in PitMads. My first twitter event was #SFFPit (a science fiction & fantasy event) a few months ago, and agent involvement there seemed very low. It’s already obvious that far more agents participate actively in PitMad, and rumors are that Tweets + RTs exceeded 300k. Which is a lot.

Top 25 #PitMad 2020 (Sep) Tweets

These are the PitMad tweets that worked best as of the end of PitMad at 8 pm ET. A lot of prospective authors did very well, garnering hundreds of re-tweets, dozens of likes and substantial agent interest. Note that all stats are taken sometime after the end of PitMad (and not all at the exact same time), and may have changed since. If any substantial corrections are needed, let me know.

1 / Paulette Kennedy

Paulette crushed it, with interest from a dozen or more agents for her adult historical fiction /  horror novel. Her novel is a thematic mashup of Shirley Jackson‘s (The Haunting of) Hill House and Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s Mexican Gothic with a LGBT+ twist, which does sound pretty amazing.

The interested agents included:

  1. Lisa Abellera of KC Associates
  2. Melanie Castillo of Root Literary
  3. Erin Clyburn of JD Literary
  4. Jess Dallow of Brower Literary
  5. Samantha Fabien of Samantha Fabien Literary
  6. Dorian Maffei of KC Associates
  7. Michelle Richter of Fuse Literary
  8. A.M. Rose of Prospect
  9. Alec Shane of Writer’s House
  10. Suzie Townsend of New Leaf Literary
  11. Hannah VanVels of Belcastro
  12. Andrea Walker of Olswanger Literary
  13. Emmy Nordstrom Higdon of Rights Factory

The day I get a dozen (or more) agents interested in any of my books is the day I buy a G6. So, well done, Paulette. Note that I’ve left out interest expressed expressed by small publishers, self-publishing companies, etc. This is true for all tweets and authors.

2 / Zachary James

Zachary killed it at PitMad, pulling in mad retweets for his YA fantasy novel inspired my Mesoamerican mythology.

Oddly, Zachary did not get any agent likes, though Liza Kaplan of Philomel Books/Penguin seemed at least personally interested.

3 / Lisa Kingsley

Lisa pitched a middle grade (MG) novel like Spy Kids set in the Caribbean and told from a Black / Own voices perspective. Sounds like a blast.

Interested agents include, well, just about everyone:

  1. Lisa Abellera of KC Associates
  2. Marlo Berliner of JDC Literary
  3. Laura Bradford of Bradford Literary
  4. Karly Caserza of Fuse Literary
  5. Heather Cashman of Storm Literary
  6. Gemma Cooperof Bent Agency
  7. Rachel Ekstrom Courage of Folio Literary
  8. Kelly Dyksterhouse of Raven Quill
  9. Samantha Fabien of Samantha Fabien Literary
  10. Lauren Gardner of BLM Agency
  11. Josh Getzler of HG Literary
  12. Tara Gilbert of JD Literary
  13. Amy Guiffrida of JD Literary
  14. Christa Heschke of McIntosh Otis
  15. Lucy Irvine of PFD Agents
  16. Sarah Joy of WordServe Literary
  17. Emily Kaitlin of Bookends Literary
  18. Sarah Landis of Sterling Lord
  19. Natascha Morris of Tobias Literary
  20. Jas Perry of KT Literary
  21. Laura Rennert of Andrea Brown Literary
  22. Melissa Richeson of Storm Literary
  23. A.M. Rose of Prospect
  24. Sabu Sulaiman of Talcott Notch
  25. Rebecca Sherman of Writer’s House
  26. Jennifer March Soloway of Andrea Brown Literary
  27. Saritza Hernandez  of Andrea Brown Literary
  28. Suzie Townsend of New Leaf Literary
  29. Maria Vicente of PS Literary

There are probably more, but damn. Hopefully, this means we’ll see this book in print soon. And then the movie. And then another book. And then…

4 / Chase Anderson

Chase’s adult memoir from a Black / POC / LGBT+ perspective pulled in massive likes and a lot of RT support. No comps were offered, but this sounds like a very interesting book.

Unfortunately, Chase’s very enthusiastic friends didn’t follow the RT only (likes for agents) protocol, so there are nearly 2,000 likes to sort through to find agent interest. I’m sure there are several in there, but I’m not sure who they are. Fortunately, Chase was kind enough to send me what he found:

  1. Carrie Howland of Howland Literary
  2. Julie Gwinn of The Seymour Agency
  3. Sarah Phair of Sanford Greenburg
  4. Rena Rossner of The Deborah Harris Agency
  5. Suzie Townsend of New Leaf Literary
  6. Carly Watters of PS Literary
  7. Jennifer Weis of Ross Yoon Agency
  8. Desiree Wilson of The Bent Agency

5 / Aldara Thomas

Another top YA fantasy contender, Aldara earned hundreds of RTs and interest from several agents. Her comps were the Chronicles of Narnia,  C.S. Lewis‘ famous  fantasy and Christian-allegory series, and Shadow and Bone, the first book in Leigh Bardugo‘s Grisha fantasy trilogy.

Interested agents were:

  1. Analieze Cervantes of Harvey Klinger Literary
  2. Rena Rossner of The Deborah Harris Agency
  3. Jackie Williams of The Knight Agency

Though, as with all entries here, more may appear tonight and tomorrow. Good luck, Aldara

6 / Jordan Gray

Jordan’s YA fantasy / fairy tale retelling of Swan Lake and Shelby Mahurin‘s Serpent & Dove drew strong interest from Twitter and agents both. These cursed mirrors are always causing trouble.

Interested agents include:

  1. Jordy Albert of Booker Albert
  2. Samantha Fabien of Samantha Fabien Literary
  3. Hillary Harwell of KT Literary
  4. Chelsea Hensley of KT Literary
  5. Emily Kaitlin of Bookends Literary
  6. Tamara Kawar of ICM
  7. Dorian Maffei of KC Associates
  8. Lynnette Novak at Seymour
  9. Rena Rossner of The Deborah Harris Agency

7 / Nadi

Nadi’s adult paranormal novel drew attention from several agents in addition to hundreds of RTs–possibly due to the crazy combination of Fleabag (hysterical) and Beetlejuice (goofy). Great to see more POC and mental health perspectives in the mix.

The interested agents include:

  1. Melanie Castillo of Root Literary
  2. Amy Elizabeth of DGB Literary
  3. Jolene Haley of Marsal Lyon Literary
  4. Tamara Kawar of ICM
  5. Lynnette Novak at Seymour
  6. Rena Rossner of The Deborah Harris Agency
  7. Katie Salvo at Metamorphosis

8 / Carolyn A. Drake

Carolyn pitched an adult paranormal fantasy inspired by Constantine (presumably, with Keanu Reeves) and The Hollows. Nothing worse than sloppy resurrection spells.

Unfortunately, a great concept does not seem to have yielded agent interest just yet.

9 / Daniel DeVita

Daniel’s adult fantasy sounds like a great premise for epic warfare. Steel armor bolted to your bones? Send it.

While no agents had liked his post as of the end of Pitmad, Daniel did give me this update on Sep 4th: “I got a like on the tweet in your article from an intern at the Seymour Agency, who invited me to submit materials to Julie Gwinn (the agency’s VP). The query has been sent, and now it’s all to crossing fingers and waiting!” Good luck, Daniel!

10 / Gabi

Gabi’s young adult novel about a murdered Black casino owner is pitched from a Black and Own voices perspective, and looks like a great concept.

Agents interested include:

  1. Lisa Abellera of KC Associates
  2. Lynnette Novak at Seymour

11 / Erin L

Erin pitched a YA fantasy novel that combines elements of Hayao Miyazaki‘s Spirited Away (based on Japanese folklore) and The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. Sounds like a scary ride…

Interested agents include:

  1. Marlo Berliner of JDC Literary
  2. Karly Caserza of Fuse Literary
  3. Kelly Dyksterhouse of Raven Quill
  4. Christa Heschke of McIntosh Otis
  5. Dorian Maffei of KC Associates

12 / C.L.C. Hasz

C.L.C. is not afraid of periods or great YA pitches. Her novel is a mashup of Clueless (fun!) and The Fault in Our Stars (sad!), and the stars seemed to have aligned because interest is…out of this world. So many puns, but seriously, it sounds like a good read.

The interested agents were:

  1. Sam B. Farkas of Jill Grinberg Literary
  2. Jennifer Herrington of HK Literary
  3. Jemiscoe at Andrea Brown
  4. Lynnette Novak at Seymour
  5. Katie Salvo at Metamorphosis
  6. Ann Leslie Tuttle of DGB

13 / Mckayla

McKayla combines the opulence and corruption of the Borgia‘s with the drug-based self improvement of Brave New World...with alien drugs. How can that go wrong?

While there were no agent likes as of the end of PitMad, Mckayla did let me know )(see comments, below) that interest was expressed by John Baker of BLM Agency. Good luck with your novella!

14 / Angelica Monai

Angelica’s YA fantasy combines a melanated Katniss (from The Hunger Games, I assume) and the Japanese manga thematics of Attack on Titan for what sounds like good violent fun.

Interested agents include:

  1. Marlo Berliner of JDC Literary
  2. Lisa Abellera of KC Associates
  3. Karly Caserza of Fuse Literary
  4. Heather Cashman of Storm Literary
  5. Tara Gilbert of JD Literary
  6. Christa Heschke of McIntosh Otis
  7. Amanda Leuck of Spencerhill
  8. Dorian Maffei of KC Associate
  9. Jas Perry of KT Literary
  10. Rebecca Strauss of DeFiore
  11. Saritza Hernandez  of Andrea Brown Literary

15 / Marisa

Marisa pitched another great YA fantasy contender featuring illegal magic and trickster trials. How can that be bad?

The interested agents were:

  1. Lisa Abellera of KC Associates
  2. Marlo Berliner of JDC Literary
  3. Tara Gilbert of JD Literary
  4. Christa Heschke of McIntosh Otis
  5. Howland Literary
  6. Lynnette Novak at Seymour
  7. Suzie Townsend of New Leaf Literary
  8. Ann Leslie Tuttle of DGB

16 / Manuia

Manuia’s YA fantasy novel inspired by Moana and Ghostbusters, and reflects her Own Voices French Polynesian perspective.

Interested agents include:

  1. Lisa Abellera of KC Associates
  2. Marlo Berliner of JDC Literary
  3. Laura Bradford of Bradford Literary
  4. Melanie Castillo of Root Literary
  5. Analieze Cervantes of Harvey Klinger Literary
  6. Karyn Fischer of Bookstop Literary
  7. Mollie Glick of ???
  8. Chelsea Hensley of KT Literary
  9. Jennifer Herrington of HK Literary
  10. Christa Heschke of McIntosh Otis
  11. Jemiscoe at Andrea Brown
  12. Emily Kaitlin of Bookends Literary
  13. Tamara Kawar of ICM
  14. Janine Le of Sheldon Fogelman
  15. Kaitlyn Johnson of Belcastro
  16. Dorian Maffei of KC Associates
  17. Andrea Morrison of Writer’s House
  18. Lynnette Novak at Seymour
  19. Jas Perry of KT Literary
  20. A.M. Rose of Prospect
  21. Rena Rossner of The Deborah Harris Agency
  22. Saritza Hernandez  of Andrea Brown Literary
  23. Hannah VanVels of Belcastro
  24. Jackie Williams of The Knight Agency

And probably more to come…

17 / Catherine Downen

Catherine’s YA fantasy combines Jumanji and The Chronicles of Narnia? I can only assume the animals run amok, but talk while doing it.

Agents expressing interest include:

  1. Lisa Abellera of KC Associates

18 / AT Geiger

AT Geiger pitched new adult woman’s fiction.

Agents expressing interest:

  1. Ann Leslie Tuttle of DGB

19 / Kiana Krystle

Kiana offered up YA fantasy and paranormal romance inspired by Persephone and Shakespeare’s tragic Romeo & Juliet.

Likes from agents include:

  1. Analieze Cervantes of Harvey Klinger Literary
  2. Samantha Fabien of Samantha Fabien Literary
  3. Karyn Fischer of Bookstop Literary
  4. Jolene Haley from Marsal Lyon
  5. Jennifer Herrington of HK Literary
  6. Rena Rossner of The Deborah Harris Agency
  7. Maria Vicente of PS Literary

20 / Steph Jones

Steph was among the most successful in terms of agent interest in her young adult novel from a Black Voices perspective. Wakanda Forever!

The interested agents include pretty much everyone. Go, Steph!

  1. Marlo Berliner of JDC Literary
  2. Heather Cashman of Storm Literary
  3. Melanie Castillo of Root Literary
  4. Tara Gilbert of JD Literary
  5. Hillary Harwell of KT Literary
  6. Jemiscoe at Andrea Brown
  7. Emily Kaitlin of Bookends Literary
  8. Tamara Kawar of ICM
  9. Janine Le of Sheldon Fogelman
  10. Megan Manzano of D4EO
  11. Natascha Morris of Tobias Literary
  12. Lynnette Novak at Seymour
  13. A.M. Rose of Prospect
  14. Saritza Hernandez  of Andrea Brown Literar
  15. Stephanie Winter of PS Literary

21 / Alexander James

Alexander’s adult horror was popular with both RTs and agents, taking inspiration from The Chill and The Twisted Ones.

Interest came from:

  1. Erin Clyburn of JD Literary
  2. Jemiscoe at Andrea Brown
  3. Lynnette Novak at Seymour
  4. Alec Shane of Writer’s House
  5. Ann Leslie Tuttle of DGB

22  / Michelle Stoddard

Michelle’s young adult historical fiction combines The Three Musketeers with Mulan? There better be some crazy battles, and swords and..polite ninjas?

Interested agents include:

  1. Laura Bradford of Bradford Literary
  2. Howland Literary
  3. Ann Leslie Tuttle of DGB

23 / Sara Seitz

Sara offers up the only top-rated sci-fi pitch as adult speculative fiction. No bias here, but I hope she wins the prize money. If there is prize money. Which there is not. So, giant publishing contract?

Interest was expressed by:

  1. Lisa Abellera of KC Associates
  2. Hillary Harwell of KT Literary

24 / Emily Rae

Emily’s adult fantasy made the top 25 and attracted some agent interest.

Agents interested include:

  1. Sam Morgan of Lotts Agency

25 / Brittany Kelley

Brittany’s adult contemporary romance sounds funny and scary, but the agents weren’t scared.

Interested agents include:

  1. Tara Gilbert of JD Literary
  2. Jolene Haley of Marsal Lyon Literary
  3. Dorian Maffei of KC Associates
  4. Shannon Snow of CMA
  5. White Lion Literary
  6. Emmy Nordstrom Higdon of Rights Factory

Observations about PitMad 2020 (Sep)

Just some casual notes and observations from the day.

More Black / POC / LGBTQ+ / Own Voices

At least, it seems like it’s more. Hopefully moving in a good direction.

Lots of YA Fantasy

The plurality of books were YA fantasy (at least in the top pitches), which tells me there’s a strong demand there at least among twitter RTs and agents.

Little Science Fiction?

Maybe #SFFPit wasn’t an aberration? Among the top 25+, there were only two SF novel pitches, and I don’t remember seeing that many throughout the day. Except mine. I saw that a lot.

RTs Don’t Really Correspond to Agent Interest

At the top, sure, lots’a RTs correlate to agent interest, but from what I can tell by looking at agent likes, they’re searching for tags or keywords of interest–and a lot of their likes are on very low RT pitches. This makes it feel like the #PitMad is less about social engagement than agent time & focus (they are looking at pitches on this day on Twitter).

Just by way of an example, here’s a pitch, with very few RTs, and one agent like. It’s great that she found this pitch, but it wasn’t because it was being socialized extensively during PitMad.

This means PitMad is great for those who are noticed for whatever reason, but actually pushes everyone else who goes through the regular query process down further in the slush pile. I think. It’s like reading tea leaves, honestly.

Great Way to Gauge Potential Agent Interest

Just at what they liked during PitMad. If you do this before any query, at least you’ll have some idea of what they really like (specifically) vs. general interests shown on #MSWL and related sites. I think. Again, just a thought.

More Information on PitMad & Pitch Wars

More information on the sponsors of Pitch Wars can be found here, including the regularly updated schedule of Twitter and other events. THANK YOU to them for sponsoring this great and educational event.

If you have any corrections or updates, please let me know in the comments below or on Twitter.

Peace.

24 Comments

  1. Thanks for this list, Shawn, this is fantastic! 🙂 I did get a like from an agent, John Baker (@JJBker) who is really awesome because his agency doesn’t normally accept novellas but he is kind enough take a peek at mine anyhow.

    Thanks again for the article, a great resource for writers looking to see what pitches are successful!

  2. This is such a great summary and analyses of #pitmad—thank you! It can be hard to make sense of it for a newbie like me :0)

    • Comment by post author

      ShawnAdmin

      Thanks, Mabel. How did it go for you?

    • Jan Thompson

      Thanks for this commentary Shawn . Being a first time #pitmadder () I wasn’t at all sure what would happen next . So this helps get over the initial low spirits after the nerves and adrenaline of taking the chance on it .

  3. This is a really helpful and insightful analysis. Thanks so much for doing it!

  4. Kaitlin Sikes

    I didn’t see many PBs getting hearts.

  5. Thank you so much for this helpful article and the kind remarks. Congratulations to everyone who participated and best wishes out there in the post-PitMad trenches!

  6. Thank you so much for the shout out!

    I am beyond excited, and still riding the high of the epic reaction to my pitch ♥️

  7. I’m so exited to have made this list! Huge thank you to the writing community for the absolutely EPIC retweets.

    Best of luck to everyone in the querying process!

  8. Rina

    I had no idea #SFFPit was a thing as I would have used it in my tweets. I write YA Sci fi. Is it every time there is a pitmad event that you use the hash tag #SFFPit?

  9. Loved seeing this list Shawn thank you! I was one of the other SFF pitchers. We are indeed the few lol. I agree with your RT vs agent likes. I got nearly 400 RTs and a like from Suzie Townsend and an SFF publisher, so I still call it a win and met a lot of great people!

  10. Comment by post author

    ShawnAdmin

    I’m sorry you feel that way. I’ve changed the graphic, if that was a concern — though an attributed screenshot is hardly official imagery. Still, a valid point. On the other hand, most people seemed to find this post useful and positive. Sad that you found something negative in it, but such is life. Good luck to you.

  11. Super uncool to frame PitMad as a competition. This is a supportive community and we don’t need your “This was better than” take. Plenty of people who aren’t on this list had success… and even more don’t need to be told that they were something less than by some armchair commentator.

  12. Hi Shawn,

    I’m not sure why you didn’t click through to get my full details, but my name is Emmy Nordstrom Higdon, and I’m a literary agent with the Rights Factory. You referenced me under Paulette Kennedy’s post. I’ve included my MSWL in the website field below, and coincidentally I adjusted my Twitter handle today, so I can now be found at @emmy_of_spines.

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