P is for Pitching

And I don’t mean baseball.

I’m almost certain that writing my first query letter took longer than writing the entire manuscript. Botch your pitch, and the editor won’t even bother glancing at your submission. It’s an awful lot of pressure to put on a single piece of paper.

Understanding the gravity, I searched far and wide for an authority on how to write the perfect pitch. This took longer than I anticipated. For starters, no two sources agreed on formatting, organization, or what information had to be included. When I finally identified a few common threads, the guidelines were frustratingly vague or short on examples. In no way was I comfortable filling in those gaps on my own.

I came across one site that stood out from the rest. The author, Cynthea Liu, pulls no punches. “Don’t embarrass yourself” is her third key point. She’s direct and specific in a way that I really appreciated when clarity was scarce.

Check out anatomy of a query letter for yourself.

Of course, the art of the pitch is ever-evolving. Publishers may state their own preferences in their submissions guidelines, and these preferences must be followed first and foremost. What a publisher doesn’t spell out is left to your discretion. If you’re in need of a solid foundation, I recommend Cynthea’s stellar explanation.

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