Christine Kohler

Children's Book Author, Editor, Writing Instructor

Double Knot Photography

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READ LIKE A WRITER, a teaching blog


November 28, 2017

Tags: pitching to agents, pitching manuscripts, pitch parties, Twitter pitch parties, #MSWL, #PitWars

by Christine Kohler

This article is a follow-up to my blog post “Changes in Book Publishing in 30 Years” (June 14, 2013) and “My Achy-Breaky Heart over Agents” (October 15, 2017) ). The reason I’ve been able to continue to be published is because I’ve made a point of staying current with changes, especially technology. In the “Changes…” article I talked about how in the past I got my agents through conferences. And how social media has increased demands on authors to self-promote. Today I’m going to talk about how Twitter has changed getting an agent.


I remember about 15 years ago being at a conference in LA and writers were practicing “elevator pitches.” The concept came from the movie industry where screenwriters would pitch screenplays in the amount of time an elevator took them from one floor to the next with a producer. I also recall groaning inside because it’s easier for me to write a book than it is to write a synopsis, let alone a pithy pitch. Today, with Twitter, all writers need to perfect their telegraphic-length pitches. All writers and illustrators need to be on Twitter. I’ve been a Twitter-fan since 2013. Talk about Rave Parties, Twitter Pitch Parties are all the rave!

Twitter allowed 140 characters. Twitter recently doubled its character count to 280. I have no idea if this will change the length allowed by each pitch party. Read the rules. However, keep in mind that people today don’t read, they scan.

If you write your pitch shorter than the allowable character count, then you can add hashtags that tell the age group, genre, and something that pertains to your book that will grab agents’ attention. Examples: #STEM, #OwnVoices, #Diversity. With the additional character count you can also add a photo. This is especially a bonus for illustrator-authors. In my last Twitter-pitch for a contemporary YA, THE ELECTORAL GAME, I added a political cartoon to make my pitch, hopefully, stand out. (There are political cartoons within the book, too.) I recommend you make it relate, and not just a seizure-inducing GIF.)

Also, type up variations of the same pitch so Twitter lets you to post as frequently as the party rules allow.


Another writer gave this formula for Twitter pitches. But don’t tie yourself in knots if you can’t make it fit exactly. “When [MAIN CHARACTER] [INCITING INCIDENT], he [CONFLICT]. And if he doesn’t [GOAL] he will [CONSEQUENCES].”

My SCBWI critique group critiques each other’s pitches as fervently as they do the manuscript.

Here’s examples of book pitches that I’ve tweeted: [Note #PitMad was the name of the pitch party. That has to be part of your character count.]

Cuba 1958 Jules must choose sides as rebel conflicts escalate. Unlocking her past is key to freedom. Romantic triangle #RS #M #PitMad-#YA

In outcry against hazing, 2 female football players & 1 cheerleader band together as Warrior Women. GRIDIRON GIRLS edgy snarky #PitMad-#YA


In the “Achy-Breaky Heart…” article I wrote: “Increasingly, publishers are refusing to accept unsolicited submissions...” The even worst news is that some agents are not accepting submissions, or only during certain months, or only if referred by a client, or invited through a conference. However, the exception can be the online Twitter Pitch Parties.

Raimey Galllant has an article with tips for Twitter pitches.

One important rule is to not favor a tweet during a pitch party. Only agents favor tweets. However, you can retweet (RT) someone’s pitch. If you get one of yours favored by an agent, check out the agency before submitting. Make sure the agents don’t charge fees, or that the agency doesn’t self-publish its clients’ books. (I also covered this issue in “Achy-Breaky Heart…”)


Manuscript wish list #MSWL
Brenda Drake’s #PitchWars and #PitMad
Picture Book Pitch Twitter Party

Do a search of whatever age group—PB, MG, YA, NA--your manuscript is aimed at, and what genre—#SFF, #HF, #Rom, etc.


Please follow me on Twitter at @christinekohle1

If I’m pitching in a particular Twitter pitch party, then I scroll down and retweet (RT) tweets from people I know, or ones that interest me. The next one I’ll participate in is #PitMad on Dec. 7, 2017.

For those who don’t like parties *raising hand* think of how much money you can save by attending a Twitter Pitch Party from home. No shopping for the expensive dress and shoes. No flying to NYC or LA. Instead, prepare your pitch, and party hardy online!


November 12, 2017

Tags: discontentment, envy, jealousy, writers, writer quotes

by Christine Kohler

In BIRD BY BIRD author Anne Lamott has a great chapter on jealousy. She writes, “Of all the voices you’ll hear…, the most difficult to subdue may be that of jealousy. Jealousy is a such a direct attack on whatever measure of confidence you’ve been able to muster. But, (more…)


October 15, 2017

Tags: literary agents, #MSWL, writers

by Christine Kohler

I chuckled at Suzanne Kamata claiming to be the Elizabeth Taylor of agent-marriages and divorces. I don’t quite have the same record—two partnerships, two break-up/abandonments—but I had also always heard that partnering with an agent is a lot like (more…)


August 30, 2017

Tags: FREEFALL, Joshua Bellin, Romance, sci-fi world-building

By Joshua David Bellin

I love building new worlds. Along with creating alien species and civilizations, that’s what science fiction writers do best. So, I was excited when, for my novel FREEFALL (McElderry Books, tbr Sept. 27, 2017), I got to build not one world but three.

If you (more…)


July 17, 2017

Tags: Aimée Bissonette, copyright, fair use, media law, public domain

This is Part III of a series of articles on how to legally use mixed media within novels or nonfiction. Media Attorney Aimée Bissonette has been guiding us through the legal minefield of copyright versus public domain, and, today, how to determine fair use.

Aimée (more…)


July 5, 2017

Tags: copyright, fair use, media law, public domain

In the last blog article I talked about advantages of using mixed genres within a work. However, if you use copyrighted materials without permission, you can find yourself in expensive legal trouble. Today, Media Attorney Aimée Bissonette has generously shared (more…)


June 21, 2017

Mixed media in novels and nonfiction gives readers visual and reading relief. Honor copyright, though, or you could get sued.
By Christine Kohler

Mixed genres within one novel or nonfiction book gives readers visual and reading relief from the narrative. It can also add authenticity to a story or factual account. In real life, we use different forms of communication besides dialogue. People e-mail, text, post online, call on a phone, video-chat. We read (more…)


May 24, 2017

Tags: novelists, writer's block, writers, writing, writing unstuck, writing novels

By Christine Kohler

As a former journalist, I have often said I don’t believe in writer’s block. I stick by that statement. Not writer’s block in the sense most people speak of it, as if they can’t get any words down on paper for a period of time. Poppycock. Research (more…)


May 10, 2017

Tags: authors who lie, storytellers, truth in fiction, truth in stories, truthtellers

By Christine Kohler

“When journalism is silenced, literature must speak. Because while journalism speaks with facts, literature speaks with truth.” Seno Gumira Ajidarma, an author, film critic, and creative writing teacher

I was on a panel at a Teen Bookfest when two authors gloated that they lie to their readers. I was dismayed that (more…)


March 22, 2017

Tags: unreliable narrators, David Almond, Justine Larbalestier, HEAVEN EYES, LIAR, Cicada, "Black Cherry Eyes", Kezi Matthews, magic realism

Edgar Allen Poe was the first author to use an unreliable narrator, according to Harry Lee Poe in his biography EDGAR ALLAN POE (Metro Books, 2008). Poe used this literary device in "The Cask of Amontillado" and "Tell-Tale Heart".

When writing a story with an unreliable narrator in children's literature, authors are tipping the reader (more…)

Selected Works

E-Book, Non-fiction, writers
e-book on Kindle for those interested in writing biblical-based stories, articles, poems.
This series covers everything you need to know to organize a glee or show choir.
"...Internet sites that are kept up to date and used as a resource for students writing research projects. The Report Links provide such useful sources as documents, photographs, and illustrations...." –Library Media Connection, October 2006
Refugees: Hear their voices. Read about children who lived through wars, and sought to find safe homes. They moved to a new country for a better life.
A young man. An old soldier. A terrible injustice. But should the punishment be death?
Anthologies, Collections
Activities for outdoor play, sand and water play.
Activities for teachers to help children ages 3-6 learn about the world around them.
100 activities for teachers of children 3-5
Fiction, ages 5-9
When Jennifer and Scotty Harper encounter problems in life, they come up with solutions to overcome difficulties, and learn to trust Jesus in the process.

Quick Links