This piece is part 1 of the fourth stop in the Spring 2020 #DVpit Blog Hop! #DVpit is a Twitter pitch event for marginalized authors and/or illustrators. The next event is scheduled for April 22-23. For more information, please visit dvpit.com. Find part 2 of the final stop here.
Guest Post by Meredith Ireland
Feat. Meredith Ireland
DVPit holds a special place in my heart. I connected with my agent through DVPit, and, in a roundabout way, the Twitter pitch event led to my first book deal. As one of the early success stories, I hope to provide some insight for writers thinking about pitching their books this month.
For those of you unfamiliar, DVPit is special because it’s only for writers who are marginalized and therefore historically underrepresented in publishing. Writers seeking an agent and/or publisher tweet pitches using #DVPit on the designated day for their category—April 22 and 23 this year. If the pitch sounds intriguing to an agent or small press editor, they like the tweet and invite the writer to submit material (from a query letter all the way to a full manuscript so be READY). If an editor from a Big Five publishing house retweets the pitch, it means they want to see the work once the writer is agented. It’s an incredibly valuable and unique part of the event.
This year’s DVPit comes at a precarious time for mental health across the globe, and particularly for Asians/Asian-Americans who, due to Covid and politics, have become target of online trolls. For everyone, social media self-care is necessary. For those participating in DVPit, it’s paramount and the purpose of this post.
In this time of social distancing, I have decided to interview… myself for self-care tips. So this is going to get weird, but it’s cool. Let’s do this.
Meredith: Thanks for being here.
Also Meredith: You’re welcome, but I’m always home these days.
Meredith: Okay, so… social media tips for this trying time. Let’s start generally and work our way to DVPit specifically. What’s the best self-care tip you have for people using Twitter?
Also Meredith: My general policy for Twitter is that the app is a weird little garden you can cultivate to your liking based on what you tweet about and who you follow. The mute and block buttons are your friends. Don’t be afraid to mute words/phrases you find endanger your mental health. See someone being sexist? Well, racism is usually right around the corner—block them preemptively. There’s a reluctance to mute/block accounts probably because most people are kind and polite, but no one deserves your time and some people are specifically on social media to be pieces of sh*t, so mute or block and move on. I’m a fan of blocking because I’m super petty. You’re going to be rude? No angry introvert bunnies for you, lol.
Meredith: How about for writers during *gestures vaguely* all this?
Also Meredith: I would say go easy on yourself. What make us writers is being sensitive to the world around us. That also makes it super hard to write in times like these. If your writing feels unnecessary right now, remember that people need art to escape into or to show them the way out. That hasn’t changed. But don’t be afraid to take a hiatus or set social media time limits if all of this is too overwhelming for your process. Focus apps like Flora help keep me away from my phone, even if it’s just to read a book.
Meredith: Okay, so DVPit specifically—what’s the most important thing to know going in?
Also Meredith: It’s going to sound like a sorority/cult answer…
Meredith: The BEST kind of answer.
Also Meredith: But best thing I got out of DVPit was the DVSquad—the friends I made and community I gained through this. Writing is so solitary. You can go it alone but the whole business is hard on mental health and it’s so much better with a support network—that’s doubly true for marginalized writers. We face unique hurdles in this business. DVPit is a chance to meet other marginalized writers in your same stage who can commiserate with you and cheer you on.
Meredith: Do you feel like writers need to create a “platform” ahead of DVPit?
Also Meredith: Not at all. It’s nice if your tweets show who you are and what you care about. Even though it feels like shouting into an empty room at first, genuine interest comes across. If politics is your thing, go for it. If it’s not, then don’t. Niche interests are cool, and, as we’ve found with baking, sometimes not that niche. The only hard rule is to make sure you have something as your profile pic—anything other than an egg because a lot of people have egg accounts blocked.
Meredith: So you have a Twitter account and you’re marginalized according to DVPit.com. Are you ready for DVPit?
Also Meredith: It should go without saying, but somehow it doesn’t: it’s crucial to have a novel actually written, rested, preferably swapped with another writer for comments, and revised. DVPit is your chance to shoot your shot. Too many times I’ll see the same pitch used again and again in different contests and chances are that manuscript wasn’t ready to be pitched. Or even worse, the novel didn’t exist yet. This is not a proving ground for your story idea, it’s for finished works. I’ve definitely pitched too early in Pitmad, so I know it’s HARD to have the excitement of DVPit, the likes flying, and not jump in if you have anything written. But don’t throw away your first online impression. Be ready. There’s another DVPit in the fall.
Meredith: Fine fine, you have a Twitter account, are marginalized, and have a written, polished novel, what should you be doing in these last few days before DVPit?
Also Meredith: You should be tweaking your pitches. The best advice I’ve seen is to show your pitches to someone who has already read your work and someone who doesn’t even know you write. The one who has read it will be able to tell you if the pitch highlights the best aspects. The one who hasn’t read will be able to tell you if your pitch makes sense. Sometimes you’re too close to the work and know all the inferences but anyone else reading is lost. There are tons of resources out there for how to craft a good pitch. In its most basic format it goes: [COMP] meets [COMP] When [inciting incident happens] [MC] must [thing they have to do in your story] or [stakes, what happens if they fail]. The biggest mistake I see are list pitches like: post-apoc world, runs on oil, sword-wielding wild dogs, yellow hurricanes #DVPit #SFF #YA. Those are cool story aspects but they tell us nothing about the conflict or stakes.
Meredith: Alright, I’m sure you have a sourdough starter to check on. Let’s break for today and continue tomorrow with what to do during and after DVPit.
Also Meredith: False, but I should go water my seedlings.
About the Author
Meredith Ireland is a practicing civil litigation attorney and Young Adult author. Born in Seoul, Korea, she was adopted as a baby by a New York family. Her adoptive father was a librarian at the Brooklyn Public Library and no doubt the source of her love of books.
Fate and a variety of questionable choices brought her to Saratoga Springs, New York, where she currently resides with her two children, and two carnival goldfish who will outlive us all. She hopes to one day have a writing treehouse, despite being deathly afraid of birds.