aprilhenry (aprilhenry) wrote,

Deconstructing a pitch letter

As a freelance reviewer for the Oregonian, I get pitch letters from publicists. In some ways, there are similar to the letter an author would send to an agent seeking representation. Here's one I just got, name changes to protect the guilty, with my comments in brackets.
Subject: Nothing is what it seems in TITLE WITH DIES IN IT* by Bob Smith* [Nothing is what it seems! What an original thought!]
Hi April,

This October, Not Real Press* will publish TITLE WITH DIES IN IT* [how original! Use the word die or death!]:Robinson Poe* Novel from debut novelist, Bob Smith*. An acclaimed [how can he be acclaimed if he's brand new?] new voice in the crime fiction genre [what a clunky term "crime fiction genre"], Smith* presents an intriguing story of mystery and suspense sure to be on this Fall’s list of must-have reads. [This sounds like it has been cut and pasted in a million press releases.]

TITLE WITH DIES IN IT* finds Robinson Poe* a former New Jersey cop turned PI, struggling to revive Larry Toresso,* the victim of a hit and run. While Larry’s* death appears to be an accident, years of experience in the world of crime have taught Poe* that death is never as simple as it seems [this doesn't even make that much sense. Sometimes death is simple. Maybe the publicist meant "have taught Poe to look beyond the obvious.]. Something just isn’t right about this “accident,” [maybe you could give us a clue what's not right] so Poe begins his own investigation into Larry’s* death. Shocking evidence and strange connections [at least give me a hint as to what these are - why should I take your word for it that they are shocking and strange?] begin to emerge and Poe* quickly finds himself in the middle of a dangerous situation where his career, and his life, are on the line. The only way out is to keep moving forward and find the killer—before Poe become the next victim. [That pretty much sums up every other mystery and thriller out there. Yawn. "life on the line" "becomes the next victim" - it's all well-used cliches. What's unique? Why should I care? Even "New Jersey cop turned PI" has been done a million times.]

Fast-paced and riveting, TITLE WITH DIES IN IT* is a gripping tale sure to thrill and captivate readers. I look forward to speaking with you further.

*Name changed
If you write a pitch letter, make sure something in there is unqiue and different. I see no reason why I will be thrilled or captivated by this book. There could well be a reason, but it's not even hinted at here.

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