How to Write a Pitch that Gets You Paid (Based on Real-World Examples)

By Sam Feldman

One very important aspect of freelance writing is the article proposal, pitch, or query letter. After all, it is the first thing the publisher sees about the proposed article and the key factor in choosing it. So, knowing how to write a good query is crucial for every writer.

Even now, after years of writing experience, I am still on the alert for good samples of accepted queries. But unfortunately, such samples are very hard to find. And how can someone write a good query letter without seeing it in the first place? In this article, I will include several successful queries that were accepted.

Also included is a guide on writing simple, decent queries. You may be surprised that they are not the ideal long queries you might see in other guides, nor have they been accepted by The Times or The New Yorker.

They are just good short queries, simple but right to the point, and accepted by small-to-medium magazines that pay about $100 per article.

These types of queries are much easier to write and require significantly less time.

This is very important for first-time writers who, as a rule, need to write 20 queries and send each to 20 publishers to get accepted.

Though it may be tempting to just scroll down to the query samples, I would still recommend you read the small guide on writing the query. Though simple, the guide includes several very useful tips and secrets that will help you write a query in minutes that has a good chance of getting accepted.

Writing The Query

The query is usually divided into three or four paragraphs. To make it simpler, each of these will be explained separately. Here I will use a three-paragraph query divided into the main parts as an example.


Dear Editor,

“Name of magazine” (optional)

“Address” (optional)

Pitch or Lead

Easy to grow in almost all climates and soils, buckwheat is an ideal plant for farmers across the United States. Though thought of as a grain, buckwheat is really in the Polygonum family, which makes it insusceptible to the poisonous ergot fungus and so makes it a safe plant for home farmers.

Proposal and Article Description

I propose writing an article about buckwheat and its agricultural and horticultural perspective. Included will be instructions on how to grow buckwheat and keep bees for buckwheat honey production.

Short Biography

I am a writer, farmer, and journalist by profession and gardener by hobby. I have been published in several magazines such as “Acres USA”, “Mother Earth News”, “Farming”, “Rural Heritage”, and others. I have attached some writing samples below.

Conclusion and How To Contact


“Name and surname”


“Address” (optional)

Let’s break down this query letter in detail…

The pitch paragraph or lead.

The pitch is the most difficult part of the query as it composes almost all of it. But, actually writing it is very simple. The pitch is basically an introduction to your proposed article. It should contain a hook (something to catch and interest the editor) and some details about your article. The difference between a three and a four-paragraph query is that in the four-paragraph query, the first paragraph hooks the editor while the second paragraph provides more details about the proposed article.

Here is a great tip that will be very helpful, especially for first-time writers. The secret is that the pitch is very similar to the introduction at the start of an article. They can even be the same (as it is actually done in this article; the start of the article was the pitch). You use a hook to attract the reader to your article in the same way that you would use it to interest the editor. And since they are so similar, you can always get a good example of a pitch by looking at the introduction of an article on that topic. For example, if you are writing an article about George Washington’s horse, “Nelson,” a good example of a pitch could be

“George Washington was a Revolutionary War hero, a Founding Father, and the first President of the United States. But what you might not know is that he was also a first-rate horseman. According to his friend, the Marquis de Chastellux, the Virginia planter was “a very excellent and bold horseman, leaping the highest fences, and going extremely quickly, without standing upon his stirrups, bearing on the bridle, or letting his horse run wild.

Washington’s favorite horse of all was Nelson, a chestnut charger who carried the General safely throughout the Revolutionary War.”

This is an introduction to an article about George Washington’s horse, taken from the website horse It was very simply found by Googling the selected idea and serves as a good example of a pitch in a query. This is very helpful as it means that you can easily find a good example of what your pitch should look like for any selected topic or idea just by observing the introduction of a similar article on the topic.

Proposal and Article Description

In this paragraph, you propose to write the article for the publication. You can use words like “would you be interested in…”, “I propose writing…”, or “I would like to write…”. This part of the query also includes the title and a description of the article, including the word count and some other details. A good idea is to specify the department of the publication where you think your article will fit best. This will show the editor that you did some research on their publication before pitching.

Short Biography

Here you need to provide several words about yourself and the publications where you have been published. It is a good idea to include links to your previous writing. If you have them in pdf or scanned images, you can include them using the words “I have included attached below…” and attach your files to the email.

Now here is quite a dilemma for first-time writers. What if you haven’t been published anywhere before? After all, we all need to start somewhere. But most editors aren’t willing for that to be in their publication. A fine solution is to just write that you have been published in several magazines and newspapers without using exact names. While the writing samples are really quite optional. For example, here is a good idea of what a biography of a first-time writer could look like.

“I am a freelance writer deeply interested in American history and culture. I was published in several history magazines and newspapers.”

You won’t be accused of lying as long as you don’t claim that you have been published in the New York Times and Washington Post. And, as soon as you get published, you can include your real publications in your biography.

A Small Word About What To Write In The Subject Line Of The Email

This is a point that is rarely included in other guides. And yet, it is quite needed. Some publications specify what to write in the subject line, while most don’t. You can just write “Query”, “Pitch”, or “Article Proposal” as the subject. Or you can be more detailed and write any of the earlier words along with the title of your proposed article, following a dash. For example, “Pitch/The Spanish Civil War”. Or if you are sending multiple queries, “Query Letters: The Presidents’ Favorite Drink/The Whitehouse Garden/etc.

Sample Query Letters That Were Accepted

Good day, Editor.

Laying more than the average chicken, the Khaki Campbell is an ideal egg-laying duck, laying as many as 340 eggs a year. Moreover, the weight of a Khaki Campbell duck egg is one and a half times the weight of a large chicken egg, making it even more productive. The Khaki Campbell is a great duck breed for small farms as they are good foragers and only a small number of them are needed for a constant supply of eggs.

Would you be interested in an article about the Khaki Campbell? Maybe it could work for the country lore department as a small article about how the Khaki Campbell is great for small farms.

I am a writer and farmer and have been published in “Acres U.S.A.” (see attached below) and other farming magazines.

Good day, Editor.

Worm composting is a great way of transferring kitchen scraps and weeds into a nutrient-rich fertilizer. Taking up very little space and requiring almost no care, wormeries produce compost and liquid that make the garden flourish and reduce the need for chemical fertilizers. Because they don’t have any smell, they can even be kept at home or on a balcony when space is limited. The worm compost can be used as a growing medium for raised beds and pots, as well as a great soil improver, and the liquid as a natural fertilizer.

Would you be interested in an article about wormeries? Maybe it could work for the additional gardening features department as a great technique for any garden or small farm that doesn’t have the space for composting?

I am a writer, farmer, and journalist by profession, and a gardener by hobby. I have been published in several magazines such as “Acres USA”, “Mother Earth News”, “Farming”, “Rural Heritage”, and others.

Dear Editor,

The constant endeavor to seek new, interesting, and famous plants and grow them is probably one of the most interesting aspects of farming and gardening.

One of the people who grew and bred these plants was the California plant breeder Luther Burbank (1849-1926). In 55 years, he developed more than 800 new varieties of fruits, vegetables, fruiting cactus, and ornamental plants. He was, in his time, compared to Henry Ford and Thomas Edison, who were very close friends of his. And indeed, Luther Burbank’s russet potato is not less used (or rather eaten) than Ford’s factory line or Edison’s lightbulb.

Would you be interested in an article covering the most interesting, odd, and useful of his plant varieties and experiments, their remarkable stories, and how to grow them in the home garden?

I am a writer, farmer, and journalist by profession, and a gardener by hobby. I have been published in several magazines such as “Acres USA”, “Mother Earth News”, “Farming”, “Rural Heritage”, and other gardening and farming magazines. I have attached some writing samples below.


We send you writing jobs.

Sign up and we'll send you 3 companies hiring writers now. Plus, we'll send more companies as we find and review them. All in our free email magazine.

We're the magazine for freelance writers.

We send you companies hiring writers.

Subscribe and we'll send you 3 companies hiring right now.

We'll also send you a guide that gets you started.

We're completely free.

Subscribe now. (It's free.)


About Us

We're dedicated to helping freelance writers succeed. We send you reviews of freelance writing companies, assignments, and articles to help build your writing career. You can view our privacy policy here, and our disclaimer. To get started, simply enter your email address in the form on this page.