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Getting Published: Understanding Pitching Your Manuscript: Your Love Potion

Updated on November 3, 2018
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Mr. Matthew Q. Dawson is a native Texan. He spent his childhood and young adulthood residing in Austin, Texas.

Sample Pitch Letter

I am a Vietnamese American man, a witness to the fall of Saigon, a prisoner of war, an escape, a first generation immigrant, an an eternal refugee.

After my sister committed suicide, I quit my job, sold all my possessions and embarked on a year long bicycle journey, back to the land of my birth, to the memories of my sister and the battlefields of my own psyche.

Catfish & Mandala is my story

Literary Agents: The Best Pitch Letters They Have Received

Fiction and non-fiction books are very different in the way the author should attempt to pitch them to publishers, agents, and other professionals throughout the writing industry. In this article, I am going to take you through the principals of pitching both Non-Fiction and Fiction Books and I am also going to take some time to show the author the proper format of writing a pitch letter in both fiction and non-fiction genres.

The first thing an author needs to understand is your pitch letter is a way that you express your book to possible publishers, agents, and other elite professionals within the writing industry. So look at your pitch letter as you (The Author) expressing your love affair with your manuscript.

You the author have spent countless hours with the characters, the plot, writing and re-writing the scenes of the manuscript and fine tuning the plots climax. So you the author should have an attachment (An Affair) with your book. Within this affair, your pitch should express the love you have for the content of the book.

If a pitch letter has no meaning within the letter then how can any author even think that a professional publisher will spark any type of interest for the manuscript? It will not happen!

Hundreds of pitch letters land on the desk of publishers each day. The Author has to catch the publisher’s attention within the first two sentences of the “Pitch Letter”. It is my hope by writing this article that I can help you achieve this goal.

Remember the outside world knows nothing about your book. So in all actuality, your public love affair will begin with the pitch of your manuscript. Most publishers and agents are looking for one thing and one thing only they want to “Fall in Love” they want to read the first sentence something that grabs them. Saying this then, you must know that your very first sentence is going to be your most important sentence when writing your pitch.

So take your time when plotting how you’re going to lay out your pitch. Think about this; how many countless hours did you spend on writing your book, how many times did your edit and re-edit your manuscript? I am almost positive the answer is universal worldwide countless hours, days, months and for some of us years. So in the same way, it took forever to write your book take your time in writing your plot. Make your first sentence an eye catcher one that will grip the reader’s eye and heart.


Sample Non-Fiction Pitch Letter

In a time when the teenagers around him are coming of age, Robin Mackenzie is coming undone.

[The Set Up]

A terrible accident has jarringly awakened the Mackenzie family from the middle-American dream they have been living, and suddenly each member of the family is spinning out of control.

[The Hook]

Though the impeccably authentic voice of of thirteen-year-old Robin Mackenzie, Soehnlein tramples over the perfectly mowed lawn of Surburbia in the late 1970's to reveal the emotional complexities that bind and unbind one family.

Understand The Proper Pitching for a Non-Fiction

Remember your pitch letter is your one-page sales letter to get that desired contract. So your pitch letter is either going to make you or break you as an author. So let’s start with discussing the Non-Fiction genre. Non-Fiction pitches need to carry four very important elements within it:

1) What is the purpose (Subject matter) of the book?

2) What audience are you trying to target and why do they need this particular book (What makes this book any different than the other hundreds already published about this subject matter).

3) Why are you an authority in the subject matter you are writing about? What credentials do you have that makes you an expert in the field (Subject) you are writing about?

4) What differentiates this book from all other books that cover this subject (Or field).

In addition to these four elements you also want to include your author’s platform. Tell your reader where they can find you on the social networks. Let your reader know how strong your author's platform is (Please remember even if your authors platform might not be strong that is not always a bad thing when trying to obtain a contract).

In nonfiction pitch letter the author wants to make his/her title stands out. As I said earlier the publisher/agent receives hundreds of pitch letters a day so it is going to be your title that is going to be the key that allows your pitch letter the ability to stand out over the other pitch letters that are sitting at the desk of the professional.

Use words of description but more importantly, use words that stand out. For example, If I was writing a book on political Science I would want my title to have a catch on something current so my title might be something like this:

Political warfare: Will our Country ever recover

Now if you read this title there is an undertone of urgency within it. The title alone grabs the reader and more than likely will cause the reader to want to read more of the insight the writer is offering.

Now let’s look at a title that is more than likely not going to catch the publisher/agents eye:

A breakdown in our political structure

There is nothing in this title that stands out. There is nothing that shows any type of raw emotion or urgency for the reader to read it. Yes, the subject within the title may be factual however the statement in the title is something that is already known and talked about worldwide.

Before you write your title be sure to do some brainstorming, do your research, and ask others for their title ideas. Reflect on what I said in this article your pitch title is going to be the key that starts the ball rolling on receiving a potential offer.

The most successful nonfiction pitch letter is one that is straightforward; one that reveals what the book is about, what audience you are targeting, and one that includes why it was so important for the author to write.

The non-fiction pitch letter that gets the literary professionals eye is the one that reveals the author's expertise in the field he or she is writing about and it should also include why that book differs from all the other books that are already published that has subject matter on the content the author is trying to pitch to the publisher/agent.

Pitch Perfect: How to Pitch Your Fiction to an Agent or Editor | Writer's Digest Tutorials

Understanding Proper Pitching For Fiction Manuscripts

Sometimes when pitching fiction or narrative nonfiction, it helps to do a comparative pitch.

When writing your pitch, it is important that you do not over emphasise the purpose of your book with examples of well-known published work.

In other words, if you are writing a book that is similar to “Chicken soup for the soul” do not compare it; rather speak about how your work has the potential of helping those that also read “Chicken soup for a soul”. You are then focusing on the population you plan to target with your published work.

In your pitch letter be sure to add your authors bio. Though there are a time and a place for modesty within fiction pitch letters modesty is not what the author wants to be.

The author should mention other published work. They should also mention any degrees they have achieved or any expertise that you might have that would relate to the manuscript you are trying to pitch.

Writing Lessons : How to Write a Query Letter

In conclusion; as you can see writing your pitch letter is more complicated than many authors really thought it was and also it plays more of a complex role in the author's success then many “Newbie” authors realize. Below is a recap of some very important bullets to remember when writing your “Pitch Letter”

  • Be sure when you are writing your pitch that it expresses your passion and your love for your own content.
  • The goal of your pitch is to sell your book to publishers and agents, so if you do not express compassion for your own work then how do you expect others to feel compassion? Be persuasive but not overbearing be cautious not to be vain.
  • Your letter can be simple but still have an impact on those professionals that are reading it. The key to achieving this goal is to use the perfect verbiage.
  • Remember write your pitch letter on one page. The idea is to sell your pitch is not bore the reader.
  • So as I said earlier writing your pitch letter is not a simple task and it should take some time to write the perfect pitch. Finally, after writing your pitch let others read it and be sure to allow them to give you corrective feedback.

I wish you luck in writing your “Pitch Letter” and I invite you to scroll through my other articles that cover a variety of publishing topics.


Submit a Comment
  • DDE profile image

    Devika Primić 

    5 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

    Interesting and very useful. I like the way you explained in detail.

  • MsDora profile image

    Dora Weithers 

    5 years ago from The Caribbean

    This is very helpful. I am working on a non-fiction and appreciate help with the specific pitch letter for it. Thank you very much. Voted Up!


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