Are you a freelancer or are you looking for a way to break into freelancing? Learning how to pitch to publications, magazines, and publishers is vital if you are.
Writers should learn more than just how to write good short stories, articles, blog posts, or books.
A successful writer also knows how to put together a convincing pitch.
What Every Writer Should Know About Pitching Publications, Magazines, Or Publishers
Pitches are directed to the appropriate editorial team. A great pitch says why your idea is a suitable one. It includes the most necessary, essential details about an idea.
When you land a successful pitch, you’ll receive a brief in return: A binding contract between writer-and-editor to deliver your promised pitch.
Always read a brief carefully. While it’s binding, it doesn’t necessarily mean a final article sale. This depends on many factors, including exactly what’s stated or agreed to during the brief.
Ready to talk about writing a compelling pitch?
Here’s how to craft your next pitch with as much care as Mona Lisa’s smile.
A First Pitch
A first pitch should always contain an introduction about you, the writer. (Don’t be rude anywhere, introduce yourself first!)
Follow writer’s guidelines, or ask for them if they aren’t available online. Find out the editor’s name and address them.
Include more detail in a first pitch.
Remember: You and the publication or editor don’t know each other – yet.
Some get rejected, some get accepted, some never get responded to, and many open a line of communication with an editorial team for the first time.
This is how it works, and don’t let any of this get under your skin.
If you pitch, you will write.
When approaching any publication with a pitch, you should always:
- Read Guidelines: Guidelines are available online, or ask for them first. If you’ve skipped reading their basic editorial guidelines, they’ll know you didn’t put in the effort. (And subsequently, they might pass.)
- Study Style: Read a publication before bothering anyone on their editorial team. Know what ideas are appropriate for their market (versus not). Get a good idea of how they like it first.
- Search Ideas: Always research an idea that you think is original. Has it been done before? Has it been done better? Has it been done to death? Can you say something new? Find out if the specific publication has ever run anything similar.
10 Tips For A Better Pitch
Pitching well (and convincingly) is an art, just like painting. And just like being a painter, you can’t rely on anyone else to hold your paintbrush for you.
It takes a lot of practice. It takes a lot of rejection. It takes a lot of research.
But the good news is that there are ways to make pitching easier.
There are things editors like, and things editors don’t. Include more of the things they like to see from a pitching writer, and you’re halfway there.
1. Communicate (Or Pitch Blind)
A first, introductory message to the editor is just polite.
It opens communication and says hello. It sometimes requests guidelines, details, or ask if unsolicited pitches are accepted. A first message can also ask if publications have a specific pitching window: many do.
2. Detail Your Devils
A pitch should be detailed.
An editor doesn’t just want to know that you’ve got this great idea. Editors also want to see what you’re going to do with it.
Don’t just say, ‘An article about bridge.’
Be specific and say, ‘An article about the card game of bridge played online on platforms like Bridge Base Online, with interviews from three daily players.’
See? The second one improves it.
3. Why This Article?
Always tell an editor why the piece you’d like to write is relevant to their readers.
Why is this article important? Then, why is it important specifically to their readers?
[Look at their ‘About Page‘ on their website to find out what they are all about.]
An editor is in charge of their publication as a business venture. Sell your idea like you’d sell any other consumer product.
If they say yes, tell them what you can deliver.
4. Why This Article, Now?
Ideas are often relevant to the time they’re being written in.
Let your prospective editor know why this idea should be written right now.
If not, they might not see a viable reason to yes right now, either.
5. Name Your Sources
While it’s not true for every pitch out there, article or feature pitches should detail your sources.
Especially stories with experts, interviews, or human interest pieces will need this special touch.
Editors should know where this idea ends up if they agree.
6. Dear Sir / Madam
Avoid addressing editorials as anything non-specific.
No ‘Dear Sir/Madam’ for pitches. Find out who the editor is, and address the correct person directly.
If you don’t, it can seem unprofessional, and your message could even be auto-flagged as spam. Plus, the extra effort is always appreciated.
7. Be Brief
Editors see hundreds (and occasionally, thousands) of pitches in the average week or month. Never waste their working time with long-winded pitches. They just don’t have the time.
A great pitch is short, but detailed.
8. Keep Pitches
Save pitches, even unsuccessful ones.
Pitches can always be refined, edited, or polished. A rejected pitch can even be perfect for another publication, but just not for the one you asked first.
A lot of writers have slower days for inspiration. Then, consult your growing pitch collection for some thoughts.
(And remember, don’t accidentally sell the same pitch twice! That’s a definite no.)
9. It’s Okay (To Follow Up)
It’s okay to follow up with a publication that hasn’t gotten back to you after pitching them.
If their response time isn’t listed in their guidelines, a few days or weeks is a good time. Large publications can – sometimes – take several months to a year.
If the idea is time-sensitive, mention it.
10. Pitching Can’t Take Longer
Work on pitching abilities until it feels like a reflex.
Pitching should never take a writer more time than they would spend on writing, researching, or editing the article itself.
Time and lost moments are money, especially to writers.
The Last Word
By Alex J. Coyne. Alex is a writer, proofreader, and regular card player. His features about cards, bridge, and card playing have appeared in Great Bridge Links, Gifts for Card Players, Bridge Canada Magazine, and Caribbean Compass. Get in touch at alexcoyneofficial.com.
If you enjoyed this, read his other posts:
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- Essential Advice For Writing The Christmas-Themed Story
- 30 Essential Websites & Web Apps For Writers
- 15 Ways To Edit A First Draft
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- The Top 10 Blogging Trends In 2021
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- 10 Common Mistakes Journalists Make (& How To Avoid Them)
- Forewords, Prefaces, Prologues, & Introductions – What’s The Difference?
If you want to improve your writing, buy The Complete Grammar Workbook.