Thursday, August 18, 2011

Problem Pitches: Pitch Placement

There are many common problems with pitches (and queries) that writers can fix easily. Last week, I went over pitches that need to adjust their focus. This week, I want go over another very common problem: pitch placement.

The Problem
Here's the situation for these problematic pitches:
  • First, the writers tell me about how they got started writing.
  • Then, they tell me nearly everything they've accomplished since that moment.
  • Then, they tell me how they found this opportunity.
  • Then, they tell me how my publication (Writer's Market and/or Poet's Market) has changed their life.
  • Then, if I'm lucky, they finally pitch me an article idea.
Of course, if I'm not lucky, the letter will end with something along the lines of: "Anyway, I'd love to write an article for you, so please keep me in mind."

Needless to say, even if these pitches are good, sometimes I have trouble locating or processing them after reading through paragraphs of "non-pitch" information. Plus, putting the important stuff last (or hiding it in the middle) reflects poor judgment on the writers--so I'm not impressed with their writing skillz.

The Fix
Luckily, this problem is very easy to fix: Just lead with the pitch.

You can include all that other information if you need to get it off your chest, though it's not all completely necessary or appropriate, but do so after you've pitched your article idea. As an editor, that's what I care about the most, so it's the most important information in your pitch (or query) letter--even if you have won tons of awards and honors.


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