Writing a Perfect Pitch Letter Helps You Land the Best Writing Assignments

You have a great idea for a story. How do you turn that idea into a byline and paycheck? First you have to find the right magazine—the magazine that best fits your story idea. Once you do that you should research the magazine, read at least three back issues and pay attention to the type of stories and the style they are written in. If the magazine is new then you won’t be able to do this but you should do a search to see if they are actively looking for submissions. After you have found the publication that you want to write for, find the correct person to submit to. Look up the editor’s name and email—if you’re not sure if it’s a man or a woman, don’t guess and risk offending; use Google or another search engine to try and figure it out

Next, you need to write a pitch or a query letter to the editor, or correct section editor, of the magazine. Here are some tips on writing the perfect query letter:

Your pitch should be written in the style that you are going to write the article. If it’s going to be funny, your pitch should be funny. If it’s an article about drunk driving your pitch better not be funny, it should be engaging, entertaining, but not funny.

Your pitch needs a good hook—something to catch the assigning editor’s interest. It should be timely (related to something going on right now), something local (not for national magazines unless it has a bigger meaning), or something really unique that is a perfect fit for that publication. You can usually find a way to make anything fit into one of those three things.

What sources are you going to use? What personal contacts do you have that you could tap? List them all. But you better be 100% sure that you can get into contact with them. If you tell an Editor that you are going to get a quote from Madonna, that Editor is going to expect that quote. Don’t blow your chance to make a good impression. If you might be able to get a good quote just be honest, tell the Editor that it is a possibility but not a guarantee.

Why should YOU write this story? What personal connection do you have? What is it about you that will convince the editor that you are the one who can do this? Are you an expert in your field? Do you have personal experience relating to this topic?

A short bio. Include a list of where you have been published. If you know someone who knows the editor put this in your first sentence: “John Doe recommended that I send you this story idea...” The more you have been published the better the chance you will get published again. If you’ve never been published, that’s ok you can always offer to write the piece on spec.

Writing clips of previously published work. If you have them, attach them. Don’t wait to be asked, it looks more professional and saves the editor time if you have them.