Six Top Tips on How to Write Children’s Manuscript Pitches – That Editors Want to Read

You’ve spent countless hours pouring your thoughts, heart and soul, and even blood, sweat and tears into your manuscript. It’s taken months, if not years, to perfect it. It’s been on it’s own journey around and around, reimagined and rejigged many times over. And now it’s ready to be sent off into the world of publishing to take on a whole new life. But your manuscript can’t do it alone. It needs a partner. A partner that will lift it up onto the highest of pedestals – that’d be ‘The Pitch’.

The Pitch is there to support your manuscript entry addressed to all-important editors and publishers. Whilst it may not need all the time and energy your story has undertaken, it is, well, an influential part of the submission.

So, how do you write a great pitch? How do you make the reader want more? What are the essential elements in writing a successful pitch? Here are six tips that will get your submission noticed…

1. Personalise

You know ‘who’ you’re pitching to, so do some research into what they’re actually looking for. Yes, they take the genre you write, but consider a step further. What are the kinds of topics, issues, styles they publish? Does this suit your manuscript? Have you mixed an important issue with an intriguing twist? If yes, make a point of it! Your pitch should tell the publisher how your book fits in and how it stands out.

2. Make it Snappy!

Editors want to read a pitch that pops with intrigue. It doesn’t matter how the book ends, but why they would want to read it. Don’t simply outline a synopsis. Rather focus on the marketability and commercial appeal of your book.

3. Craft and Emotion

IMPORTANT! The Pitch needs to elicit an emotion in the reader. It should reflect your manuscript in every sense. If your story is funny, add a little humour to your pitch. Do you aim to tug on the heartstrings, or elicit curiosity? Reflect these feelings through your voice. You could provide relatable facts, or perhaps a small taste of your manuscript. Create intrigue!

Moreover, this is all done in a well-crafted format that reads with a pleasurable flow. One point should seamlessly lead onto the next. Incorporate your essential details into a succinct phrase, rather than listing points like bullets! If the editor can sense you write well, they will have hope for the full manuscript.

3. Get Reading and Forget the Ego!

You’ve heard it before – read, read, read! Of course you read! You might have read five thousand books, but can you recognise that your manuscript will have similarities to many of those out there, no matter how unique you think it is. ‘I’ve never seen a book on a water polo-playing monkey with a hankering for Vegemite sandwiches’, you say! Neither have I, but there are universal themes that you have seen, like friendship, hope, teamwork, adversity, or dealing with loss, for example. So, if you’re asked for comparative titles, mention the themes for specific books and their authors, not just the topic.

Further, a pitch is not to indulge your manuscript with all the amazing goodness it possesses, like ‘captivating’, ‘poignant’, or ‘hilarious’. Let the editor be the judge of that. Be humble and matter-of-fact. Let your ‘voice’ do the talking!

4. More on Appropriateness

Be aware of what publishers expect are appropriate conventions for a particular genre. Most picture books should be aimed at the 500 word maximum limit. However, there will be exceptions. Be really clear that if you’re sending in a 1200 word picture book then you’ve considered why it needs to be this length and definitely provide a comparative title in the same genre / style.

5. Follow Guidelines

Seems so obvious, right? But surprisingly, many submissions fail to follow the guidelines set out on the website. Whether entering a competition, or submitting to a publisher, it is vital that you’ve checked and covered, and checked and covered every detail specified. Missing even one point, like a name or a word count/limit could cost you big time!

6. OMG! Check Your Spelling and Punctuation!

There is nothing more off-putting than a pitch full of erorrs! See what I mean?! Conduct spell-checks, read it aloud, ask a friend to read it. Make sure you’ve covered all spelling, grammar and punctuation bases before you send your work out into the world. I know I will have read this article at least three times before I publish it! A good writer needs to show their skill for writing. Basic essentials!

 

There you have it! I’d like to thank the following key experts for their input into compiling the above points: Emily Lighezzolo, (Wombat Books) Debra Tidball, Kellie Byrnes and Dianne Bates (Buzz Words).

And thanks to Kate Simpson for sharing her winning pitch that led to the contract of Finding Granny with EK Books

Every 10 minutes in Australia, somebody suffers a stroke. In Finding Granny, that someone is Edie’s beloved grandmother, her “bedtime, storytime pantomime Granny, her I’m not afraid of some slime Granny.” When Edie comes to the hospital, she is confronted by the changes in her grandmother: muddled words, a crooked face, a woman confined to bed. “That’s not my Granny!” Edie says. But when Mum takes Edie to watch one of Granny’s physiotherapy sessions, Edie starts to understand that the fiery, “I can do anything” Granny she loves is still there. And even a Granny who struggles to talk can be a “bedtime, storytime pantomime Granny.”

Finding Granny is a 316-word picture book for 4-8 year-olds. You may be familiar with the many beautiful picture books on the market dealing with dementia, such as Newspaper Hats, Celia and Nonna and Do You Remember? Like these books, Finding Granny is a story about changing relationships and about the bond between children and grandparents. It is also particularly topical for the families of the 440,000 Australians living with the effects of stroke today.

8 thoughts on “Six Top Tips on How to Write Children’s Manuscript Pitches – That Editors Want to Read

  1. Therese Ralston says:

    I fell upon this article an hour after I submitted a Picture Book text to Kidspitch. What a shame I didn’t see it sooner. Thanks anyway, I think I did most of the things you suggested, but I’ll be even better prepared for the next pitch now. Thank you from the bottom of my writerly heart.

    • Just Write For Kids says:

      You’re very welcome, Therese! I’m sure you did great, but even better next time! There’ll be lots more opportunities, I’m sure! All the best with your writing!

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