How To Write A Pitch Letter

  • Start by rereading the manuscript.
  • Get interrupted with a thousand other tasks.
  • Read the notes you made all the other times you read the manuscript.
  • Pull up the author's query letter and read that.
  • Get pulled down the rabbit hole of nostalgia and read that whole string of correspondence from query to offer. Bask in the warm fuzzies. 
  • Open a blank Word document and feel your soul exit your body.
  • Write a string of terrible opening lines until hitting on something passable.  
 hahaha oh god these are terrible

hahaha oh god these are terrible

  • Punch out a really dreadful, convoluted paragraph or two. 
  • Read it out loud. 
  • Push your laptop away from you in disgust.
  • Make and eat a snack.
  • Pull up the author's query again and wonder if you can just send that to editors as is.
  • Your author is brilliant, but usually no, you cannot do that.
  • Make and eat another snack.
  • Write down what you've got so far on a piece of paper.
  • Carry the paper in your hand and read it aloud while pacing in circles around your apartment.
  • Stop and grab a pen and cross out everything that sounds terrible when you read it aloud.
  • Briefly wonder if you've entered the wrong profession and are doomed to failure.
  • Realize that you've achieved a bland but workable draft that has the basics in place, despite not properly conveying the book's tone and not evoking even a shred of interest.
  • Celebrate with a snack.
  • Probably you should drink some water, too.
  • Sit back down at your laptop.
  • Begin the process of unlocking the voice in the pitch. 
  • Feel deeply humble and sympathetic to all writers, everywhere.
  • Entirely by accident, stumble on the way IN to the pitch, usually by hitting on a rhythm you can carry through or a phrase you can ride on.
  • Use that momentum to go back and rewrite the entire thing. 
  • Get a bit fussy and precious with the bits in the middle, especially around the tricky plot stuff. 
  • Put words in and yank them back out repeatedly. 
  • Take the most impactful line and move it to the end, where it belongs. 
  • Write it down on paper again, and pace your apartment while reading it aloud.
  • Fuss with it as you go.
  • It's been too long since you last had a snack but you're close so don't you dare stop.
  • When you can read it outloud three times in a row without scribbling on it, type it up and email it to your author with an exhausted, delirious preface along the lines of "HERE IT IS. REALLY ROUGH. DEFINITELY NOT FINAL."
  • Feel your soul returning to your body.
  • Make and eat a snack.

NOTE: this process can take anywhere from one hour to, like, four weeks. Results may vary.