Below is a sample pitch letter. I am pretty proud of it since it is the letter that resulted in my first article assignment for The New York Times. You can read the finished article here.
Notice that the first two paragraphs are identical to the pitch.
April 5, 2000
Dear Mr. XX,
You have had a bad week. After telling your wife you were laid off, she breaks the news she’s that filing for divorce. Then, driving away from the bar where you went to sulk, your car is rear ended by a taxi. When you get home, your teenage daughter tells you she was arrested for drunk driving. In your depressed, self-pitying state you gravitate to the computer where you find yourself cruising the web. Suddenly, materializing on the screen before you is some comfort, a site that actually addresses all the newly acquired legal issues in your life. You decide to do something productive with your time and educate yourself a bit.
While most of us will never face this many disasters at once, we all encounter times when it would be great to know more about the law – just enough to let us know when it’s time to get to a professional. With do-it-yourself sites like Nolo.com, Findlaw.com, and Lawyers.com sprouting up as quickly as you can say “billable hours,” lawyers may find those hourly rates harder to sustain.
I propose a roundup story for the Circuits section reviewing the handful of sites providing legal advice and resources for the layperson and small business owner. By way of background, I am an attorney with an expertise in consumer issues and have recently left the practice of law (after nine years) to pursue a career as a freelance writer. I am also an Internet junkie who spends endless hours doing research online. I have watched this space develop with keen interest and frequently use many of these sites to research issues both for work and for personal legal issues.
I look forward to hearing from you.