If you want excellent advice on how to write a pitch letter, go to Nathan Bransford’s blog, or to Janet Reid’s check list, or Rachelle Gardener’s guidelines. OR, come, sit back, and watch me light myself on fire. I’m going to write a mock query letter for a project I’ve abandoned as a way to describe the kinds of things I look for in a letter.
Salutation: Dear FIRST AND LAST NAME. (I don’t like too familiar and I don’t like too formal.)
The one sentence pitch: I hope you might be interested in my memoir, The Potter’s Apprentice, which describes a year of pottery lessons between an octogenarian teacher and his last student: me.
Alternatives: I met you last year at Breadloaf where we spoke briefly about my project, The Potter’s Apprentice. OR, I am a great fan of your clients X and Y, and hope my work might be of interest to you. OR, I read your blog religiously and, perhaps magically, imagine that you might take to my work.
The body: It had been nearly thirty years since I studied pottery and I didn’t miss it. But one afternoon, down a quiet side street in New Haven’s East Rock neighborhood, a sign caught my eye: Pottery Lessons. What followed was a year of classes with a master potter, an 82 year old whose craft dazzled me. Between fending off his advances, listening to his tales of the Blitz and mutliple marriages, and letting myself put the blackberry down for two hours and take in the clay, the darling garden, and the wheezing of an old hound, an unlikely friendship developed between the old potter and me. The book is also a meditation on marriage, on love, and on clay. Done right, I hope it will appeal to readers of (we need two good examples here).
The bio: As for me, I received an MFA from Columbia. I was the recipient of (fill in the blanks). My writing has appeared in x,y,z. You can read more about me on my website xxxo.
Many thanks for your time,
ADD PHONE AND EMAIL
Be brutal: would you request the manuscript if you were an agent? What worked for you and what didn’t? How could it be improved upon?