Querying Tip: Craft a Compelling Pitch

We’re going back to basics for this one. A great query letter is made up of three parts: an introduction, a pitch, and an author bio. The length of these three sections will vary depending on your specific manuscript/proposal and how much prior publishing experience you have to talk about. The most important part of any query letter is the pitch. The introduction gets the pesky information out of the way (title, category, genre, word count), but the pitch is your chance to make an agent want to read more. This is what your pitch should do:

Start with a captivating sentence. The hook is the very first sentence of your pitch. Make it count. I previously wrote an entire post on writing the perfect hook, so I won’t go into those details again, but you can read that post here if you’re interested.

Provide a brief overview of the plot. Many queries waste too much time describing the themes of a story. Agents need to know what’s going to happen. This overview should read like the back cover of a published book (so read some of your favourites for inspiration). The information needs to be concise, but informative. Make sure to introduce the most important character(s) and the story’s main conflict.

Leave some questions unanswered. Your pitch shouldn’t explain everything (that’s what a synopsis is for). You need to leave some things unanswered so the agent is curious about your story and needs to request more pages to find out what is going to happen. Carefully choose what to include and what to omit. It’s this selection that will make your query stand out.

Writers often overthink the process of writing a query letter. It does take some time to get perfect, but the first draft of your pitch should come easily if you truly understand your story’s characters and what is at stake in the manuscript. The pitch is so important because it needs to explain the concept and create intrigue, but if you’re excited about your manuscript that passion will shine through in your query letter.