For my maiden blog post, I had planned to write about the September 2021 PitMad - going back to the beginning of PitchStats. But with the announcement that PitMad is ending, it only seems appropriate to start here.
As someone fairly new to writing and the publishing industry, my exposure to PitMad has been limited. I participated in a few 2021 events and first cut my teeth on #PitchStats during September's PitMad event.
But PitMad is now no more. Many have said that it was a victim of its own success. It became too big and unwieldy for volunteers to manage. While that's true, I can't help but think that maybe it's also because agents have been losing interest.
Many suspected what the stats proved to be true: Agent participation was down significantly in the December PitMad. While many of us hoped that December was simply an off month when agents were particularly busy trying to break for the holidays, I for one was anxious about March.
Even though I only have four or five months of data, the stats have shown a weakness in Agent participation for several events now:
PitMad has been the biggest event, held every quarter. With the sheer number of participants, one would expect the ratio to be high, but the ratio was particularly high in December.
Not only that, but in the December PitMad, not only did the number of participating Agents drop, but for the ones that did participate, they liked fewer pitches.
As we see above, the number of participating agents dropped from September PitMad to December PitMad by 30%, but those agents liked almost 50% fewer pitches than in September.
Agents are less likely to participate in pitch events, and when they do, they are being pickier about what they 'like'.
Why? That's hard for me to answer and chances are it's due to a number of reasons. We all know Agents' plates are full with the pandemic, publishing backlog, and a surplus of queries. It's probably an easy decision to cut out pitch events.
Disclaimer: The downtrend in agent participation could be seasonal. I don't have enough data to know for certain. But I do know that with the agent participation rates we've seen lately, it would be discouraging for anyone who wanted to pitch...or volunteers hosting a pitch event.
So what does the future hold? Will Pitch Events die off?
Hardly. In fact, I expect there to be a boom of pitch events in the upcoming year as individuals and groups fill the void left behind by PitMad.
The issue will be finding the good ones...
Let's face it: We writers will do anything to have a shot at an agent. "What does it hurt?" we ask. Then we pull our most successful pitch, update the hashtag, and tweet it.
The problem is that the pitch event may not have participating agents. And when our pitch doesn't get any traction, it does hurt, even if we tried to keep our expectations low.
Future Pitch Events will succeed not on getting writers to participate, but on getting Agent participation. New events must have an Agent-First agenda, catering to agents to make it worth their while.
Because if the Agents show up, writers will too.
Will anything replace PitMad? DVPit appears to be a well-run event with a lot of Agent participation. Probably the only catch is that not everyone can pitch. But then again, that may be what attracts agents. Agents are seeking diversity, so if they can only participate in one event, this is the one.
But as far as a general pitch event for everyone, no, there is no clear successor (in my opinion). There may not be a successor. Pitch events may remain smaller and more specific. Only time will tell.
Will #PitchStats go away?
No. If anything, I think #PitchStats will be key in helping the community separate the good events (the ones with participating agents) from the bad events (few to no agents).
The focus of PitchStats has usually been on helping writers formulate their best pitch to attract agents. Now, it will also focus on identifying the best events to participate in.
I will continue to give updates on Age/Genre/Diversity for each event, and I may dig deeper depending on the event. As always, if you have specific questions, feel free to ask me on Twitter, and I'll do what I can to get the answer.