how good

How Good Does Your Pitch Have To Be?

The straight answer.

Written by Clare

Let’s talk about how good your pitch to retailers has to be. It generally depends on two things: your timeframe and how much effort you’re willing to put in.

Want the honest truth?

Even a truly dreadful submission can result in a retailer making an order.

The fact is that, after a certain point, your introductory email and buyers’ pack don’t matter any more. Their only job is to get the shopkeeper to think about stocking your work.

Once you’ve got his or her attention, the rest is up to your lovely thing. That’s what really makes or breaks the deal.

So if by some stroke of luck a retailer looks at your work and likes it – even though your submission is ghastly – you could still get the order. But that’s a very big “if.”

[Read: What makes retailers say yes?]

Most of the time, retailers immediately delete or throw away poor quality submissions without even glancing at the product. Sure, you might get lucky every once in a blue moon, but is that really the kind of hit rate you can build a business on?

If your pitch sucks, it’s highly likely that the retailer’s eyeballs and your lovely thing will never meet.

And that’s a tragedy.

So that’s the first part of the answer. If you don’t need to make money anytime soon, feel free to continue sending very basic, bog-standard submissions.

But let’s say you actually want to get some cold, hard cash through the door. Like so much in life, the more effort you put into your submissions, the better results you’ll see. But here’s where it gets good.

Indie retailers receive so many awful submissions that even small improvements to your pitch can make it stand out from the crowd. Learning how to do it properly will repay your time and effort many times over.

Hear that rumbling sound? That’s your competitors scraping the bottom of the barrel. Hardly anyone writes a decent pitch email or cover letter. Believe me, I’ve got three hundred less-than-stellar examples in my inbox right now. And almost no-one writes a really good one.

You know how many truly outstanding submissions we’ve received since we opened our shop?

Submissions that made us sit bolt upright and spit tea all over the monitor? Submissions that got us genuinely excited about stocking a product and scrabbling to make an order?

[Read: Advice for the stressed and overwhelmed]


Yep. Five. And all from artists, I might add, from whom we’re still buying. So it’s actually pretty easy to kick your submission up a couple of notches. Simple tweaks can make all the difference.

After all, retailers aren’t ogres. We won’t say no simply because you split an infinitive in the second paragraph or because the pictures on your line sheet are a bit small. We’re not looking for perfection. We just want to feel seen and understood by you. We want a little bit of respect and human connection. We want you to make it easy for us to say YES.

So here are five quick things that help take a submission from basic to quite good:

1. Find out my name and spell it correctly.

2. Tell me what kind of lovely thing you make right away.

3. Tell me why my customers will be interested in your work.

4. Show you know something about my shop.

5. Don’t pressurise me to reply.

Any one of these small changes could help your lovely thing to be seen, considered and ordered by potential stockists.

Just imagine what could happen if you decided to get REALLY good at writing submissions.

Clare Yuille Bio Picture

Hello, I'm Clare Holliday. I'm a shopkeeper who's helped thousands of creative people sell their work to stores, galleries and regular customers all over the world. Now it's your turn.

Worry less. Sell more.