The Goat

The do’s and don’ts of writing a book pitch

Thinking about pitching your new book to a media outlet? Before you begin, read on for our essential Do’s and Don’t’s for writing a stellar book pitch: from avoiding using formal addresses to tailoring your pitch to suit different outlets. And – as always – do let us know should you require our support, inspiration and/or motivation for your literary campaign.

Don’t address your pitch to “Whom it May Concern.” When you do not know the name of the person you are pitching or are pitching a general email try using less formal addresses such as “hi there,” or “hello there,” instead, which strike a tone that implies familiarity with the outlet as well as cordial professionalism.

Do address your pitch to a real person. “Hello, there,” may work in a pinch but your pitch will be more successful if it’s addressed to someone who works at the outlet rather than a general email. Find staff names and emails online (it might take a little digging!) and be sure to pitch the appropriate person for your book such as a reviews editor or arts producer.

Don’t start by introducing yourself. It might seem counter-intuitive but outlets will be more intrigued by your pitch’s hook – what makes your book interesting and relevant to that outlet – than who is behind the email to start. If you must, include a personal note from you before your signature.

Do state what you’re offering in the first sentence. Is it a review of your book or an interview with you, the author? Decide what you’d like to offer and mention it in the first sentence of your email. This will grab your recipient’s attention and give them an immediate sense of what your feature could look like in their pages.

Do tailor your pitch to the outlet. Before you write your pitch ask yourself: what kinds of story ideas would this outlet like to receive? Do they publish mostly Q&As, lifestyle articles or investigative journalism? By tailoring your pitch to each outlet’s editorial vision, rather than sending the same pitch to everyone on your list, you’re setting yourself up for success.

Don’t provide your full book description. Editors these days are pressed for time and may give at most one minute of their attention to your pitch. Do them a favour by including only the most essential information about your book in your pitch. Your full book description can go in your attached press release.

Do include visual materials. Media is becoming increasingly more reliant on images such as photos and illustrations to attract readers as well as to provide visual aids for stories. Does your book include photographs or do you have a beautiful set of author headshots? If possible, share 1-2 high-resolution images with the outlet by attaching them to the bottom of your pitch.

Do be confident. Perhaps the most crucial element of a strong pitch is a sense of confidence in the delivery. What’s the easiest way to gain confidence? Remind yourself why your book will make for an intriguing, relevant and timely feature worthy of the outlet’s attention. When your pitch effuses confidence in the book’s value and level of interest, reads well, and is organized, you’re well on your way to a positive response.

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