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Pitching tips for writers

We’ve had loads of submissions in the past few weeks, and we’re sending huge thanks to everyone who’s sent their work. Keep it coming!

As I’ve been reading submissions, I thought it might be helpful to share some tips on pitching your work. Not just to Guts, but any publisher (or agent). Because it really is just as important as your submission. And something that takes a while to fine tune.

The first thing to keep in mind — try to make a personal connection in each and every pitch. Always try to find the editor’s name, if you can. It’s usually on the publisher’s website. Or you can google them. If you can’t find the editor’s name, no worries but do take a few minutes to visit the publisher’s website, check out previous publications, read the submission guidelines and understand what the publisher is all about. Then mention why you think your work is a good fit. One or two sentences. It absolutely makes a difference and will make your submission stand out.

Keep your pitch short. Trim away the peripheral. And remember to include breathing room – short one or two sentence lines are fine. If you have more to say, save that for your summary.

To give you an idea of a successful pitch, here’s one by John Gerard Fagan author of Fish Town. This is the first pitch he sent to Guts:

Dear Julianne,

Approaching 30 and disillusioned with life in an old mining town near Glasgow, I sold everything I had and left for a new life in a remote fishing village in Japan. I knew nothing of the language or the new land that I would call home for the next 7 years.

The Land of Eight Isles is my memoir detailing the life I led from 2013-2020, until my return just before the lockdown.

I have attached the first 5,000 words and I look forward to your reply.

Your sincerely,

John Gerard

Bio: John Gerard Fagan is a writer and Assistant Professor of Creative Writing. He has published over 50 short stories and essays in both English and Scots. @JohnGerardFagan

What I love about John’s pitch is how succinct it is. Just the bare bones yet still intriguing. I still remember the first time I read it and how it caught my attention. If you want to know how John’s pitching got to be so damn good, here’s what he said: “Pitching isn’t easy and it took me a while reading lots of other pitches to narrow down what works. I practised by writing pitches for books I’d read before.”

Another pitch I’d like to share is by Aidan Martin author of Euphoric Recall. This was the very first pitch he sent to Guts back in September 2019:

Good morning!

I have attached a Word document containing my synopsis and sample chapter (around 4500 words).

As the headline suggests it is what I believe to be a ballsy misery memoir and I am very attracted to what Guts appear to stand for.

I am in the beginning process of trying to find the right publisher and/or agent who believes in the message I am trying to convey in my story.

I am thirty-three, based in Scotland, in recovery from trauma, addiction and childhood cancer (family members) amongst many other things.

Concurrently in society many high-profile figures are being brought to task as sexual predators, men my age are killing themselves and addiction is an endemic in the UK and America. My memoir tackles it all. I am ready to go on a long journey with this through writing and public speaking and that journey begins here. Ideally it will be a partnership with the right people.

I hope you like what you read.

Aidan Martin

What I like about this is the friendly and sincere tone, yet professional. It's succinct but gives us all the info we need. And notice the line spacing – one sentence then a blank line. That is what I call breathing room. Love it. And the closing paragraph is strong because it conveys Aidan's ambitions and his vision for the future. Very appealing.

That’s about it for now. I hope you’ve found this helpful. Just remember, it takes a lot of practice to nail your pitch. You’ll get there. The more you do it the easier it will get. Remember to follow the submissions guidelines on the publisher's website. Your bio and summary should both be brief (less than a page) unless the publisher asks for a longer plot summary. Always include your name and contact details on your documents. You’d be amazed at how many documents land in my inbox without a name or title or any contact details. Not the end of the world by any means, but do put your best foot forward.

If you’d like to send your work to Guts Publishing, we’d love to hear from you. Here’s our submissions page:

Take care and stay well.

xx Julianne

Editor, Guts Publishing

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