FROM PITCH TO PUBLICATION: Step-by-Step Lessons in Writing Perfect Query Letters (Starts April 22)

Learn How to Get Published 

Learn how to write a query letter and get your work published in Kathryn Aalto’s From Pitch to Publication: Step-by-Step Lessons in Writing Perfect Query Letters.

Crafting the perfect query letter is challenging even for experienced writers. Yet it is important to keep in mind that every published writer was also once unpublished.  Query letters are the vital bridge between the two.

Successful query letters pitch story ideas to acquisitions editors through engaging and succinct writing the promises to fill a niche.  Acquisition editors are people who acquire stories for their magazines, newspapers, journals, film studios, and publishing houses. These editors read many pitching letters a day and yours must stand out with the quality of the idea, hook their attention, keep them reading, and elicit an email saying, “I want the full story.”

Pitch or query letters are definitely hard to wrestle on paper. There is a weird art to them. Compressing your rich and cherished essay into four short paragraphs is never easy.  Add to that the fact that writers only get one shot. It needs to be perfect — or nearly perfect. It must make a compelling impression. It must not give them a reason to say no, or not respond at all.

In this six-week course, Kathryn Aalto draws from her own successful query letters to international magazines and book publishers. Students will learn how to:

  • Craft query letters that get attention
  • Mix their idiosyncratic voice with a business voice
  • Understand publishing terminology
  • Revise and workshop two essays
  • Network with other aspiring writers
  • Learn how acquisitions editors think
  • Research publications to house style and submission guidelines

Each class in From Pitch to Publication includes lectures, discussions, and writing workshops. In each session, you will have the opportunity to workshop one essay and one query letter in small and lively groups. After two weeks, students send out their queries and share the responses they receive with the class, which is a fascinating real-life learning opportunity for all.

We will study different styles of pitches and practice writing them in class. Kathryn provides detailed feedback on your writing as well as people in your writing workshop.  The aim is to submit work and, fingers crossed, receive an email that opens, “Congratulations, we want to publish your work.”

Success rate? 85%. The queries sent by students in the summer of 2022 received great positive responses.


  • £350 per person
  • Saturdays 4-6 PM BST
  • April 22/29 and May 7/20/27 
  • A live Zoom course


Kathryn Aalto is a passionate practitioner and teacher of narrative nonfiction.  For more than twenty-five years, she has taught writing and literature courses at colleges and universities including Western Washington University, Everett Community College, and Plymouth University and guest lectured at Cambridge University, Vanderbilt University, Cornell University, and more. She has a global mentoring practice and leads in-person retreats as well as creative nonfiction writing courses online and in person at workshops and retreats in the United States and United Kingdom. She is a judge for The Nature Chronicles Prize, an international bi-annual award for nature writing in the English language.

Her teaching philosophy is focused on encouraging a uniquely personal exploration of narrative nonfiction. At its core, she believes teaching is about responding to each student, whether they are an emerging writer or writing beyond the level of content mastery. She cultivates a mindful and supportive learning environment that fosters personal expression, critical thinking, and individual artistic growth in the literary arts.


Read more testimonials here.

“I have been making my living with journalistic texts for four years now. Tied to my desk due to the pandemic I decided it was time to take my writing to another level and enrolled in The Art of Narrative Nonfiction. Being skeptical of virtual courses at first, I was immediately drawn into the group by her professional and yet entertaining moderation of the weekly online gatherings. With an attractive mix of lecture, discussion, workshop and personal tutoring she enabled us to not only profit from her vast experience as a writer but also to open up our pieces to our peers from various cultural backgrounds. I’ll definitely be back for more.”

Johannes, Cologne, Germany

“Margaret Atwood said ‘If you really want to write, and you’re struggling to get started, you’re afraid of something.’ Kathryn fixes those nagging fears by showing writers what we have that is already good, and what we can do better tomorrow. It’s win-win, and she remakes a traditional “class” into such an enjoyable, productive journey. I’ve also been lucky enough to experience the awe-inspiring surroundings and warm community that form the bedrock of the Rural Writing Institute. It’s not often that you can genuinely say that one long weekend shifted the way you look at the world, but the effects are still with me in my reading and writing years later.”

Caroline, Aberdeen, Scotland

“After six months of working with Kathryn–which is a bit like entering the space of a handwritten letter, what with her sharp aesthetic sense, far-ranging intelligence, wit, and curiosity–I’ve made tangible progress on an unwieldy, long-form project I was struggling to articulate. I came to her Memoir and Life Writing class for accountability, and came away having experienced the kind of support, writing insight, and real feeling of friendship that can be difficult to find in a workshop environment. Kathryn fostered a warm, charming atmosphere in class (a real feat online), allowing for life-long connections to develop among our group of writers. She cares about the arc of her student’s writing lives–a form of attention that encourages artistic growth and positive risk-taking. She not only brought her years of writing and publishing experience to class and to our bi-monthly writing assignments (her personal feedback, often handwritten, is invaluable), she also brought her unique perspective. Writer-gardener-historians are, I think, particularly adept at imagining the possibilities for a piece, no matter your subject. Kathryn pushed me to dig deeper, moving my writing in new directions. No matter where one is in their writing life, working with Kathryn will be an experience of profound joy, insight, and artistic deepening.”

Veronica, Portland, Oregon