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Last time I did my best to convince you that the query letter is a skill worth mastering. The heart of the query, your pitch, is useful not just for querying agents but also for the back of your book, pitching to editors, plotting, problem-solving, and even brainstorming. Naturally, the next big question is, “Okay, how do I write one?”
Unfortunately, there’s not a one-size-fits-all answer to that question. Every query pitch is unique, as is every writer’s path to getting out a good one. Unless you have an extremely lucky knack for them, the answer will almost certainly involve lots of study, work, practice, repetition, practice, critique, and did I mention practice?
Nonetheless, there are certain nearly-universal guidelines you can use to get started. Today I’m going to give you my version of these in hopes that they help you with your own pitch writing, but keep in mind that reading and writing many pitches really is the best way to ingrain the pattern into your brain. Aside from going to bookstores and libraries to read the backs of lots of books (what works to make you want to keep reading? why? what doesn’t? why?), there are many wonderful resources for writers such as Query Shark, Agent Query Connect, and Writer’s Digest where you can read real query letters and commentary on them.
And here’s one more important thing to keep in mind with your query: a pitch is not a summary. The goal of a summary is to encapsulate everything that happens in your book. The goal of a pitch is to make someone want to read more of your book. This means intentionally picking and choosing which information to include and which to leave out. Intrigue is a great way to pique interest.
What Goes In Your Pitch