FROM PITCH TO PUBLICATION: Step-by-Step Lessons in Writing Winning Query Letters (Starts Sept 10)

Learn How to Get Published

Learn how to write a query letters in “From Pitch to Publication,” a short autumn series that teaches practical skills to help you get published. 

  • £295 per person
  • Sundays, 4-5:30 PM BST
  • Sept 10, 17, 24, and Oct 1, 8, 15

You will learn how to:

  • Research publications to house style and submission guidelines
  • Craft query letters with a narrative arc that get attention
  • Learn how acquisitions editors think and work
  • Understand publishing terminology
  • Revise and workshop two essays

Receive Valuable Feedback

Each session provides a lecture about how to write a query letter, based on Kathryn’s own examples. She discusses different pitching styles, which you will practice in class. Kathryn provides detailed feedback as do your peers who act as acquisition editors. In addition to writing query letters, you will have the opportunity to receive valuable feedback on one essay from your peers. During class, you will send out your first query letters to targeted publications and should receive a response, providing a valuable learning opportunities for all.  The aim is to submit work and, fingers crossed, receive an email that opens, “Congratulations, we want to publish your work.”

Every Writer Was Once Unpublished

The difference can be one thing: the query letter. And yet query letters can be hard to write. Successful query letters are engaging and succinct. They pitch story ideas to busy acquisitions editors whose job it is to gather work for their magazines, newspapers, journals, film studios, and publishing houses. Reading many pitches a day, they need their attention immediately hooked with an excellent idea and a distinctive voice. Your letter needs to be full of greenlights to keep them reading.  Compressing one’s rich essay or book idea into 4-6 paragraphs takes a different set of writing skills. Adding to the pressure is the fact that writers rarely ever get only one shot at selling their idea. The query letter therefore needs to be perfect — or nearly perfect — and it must make a compelling impression. It must not give any reason for an editor to say “No, thank you” (or not reply at all).

The queries sent by students in the summer of 2022 received great positive responses with an 85% success rate.


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