Over the course of my profession, from my newspaper reporting days to my freelance writing days, I’ve pitched loads of tales. In my function as author and editor of Lifehacker’s Offspring vertical, I nonetheless pitch concepts to my very own bosses principally day by day. However I additionally area loads of pitches from freelance writers—much more so since I put out a call last week looking for new voices.
As these pitches began rolling in en masse, it turned clear to me that some writers are inexperienced with the Artwork of Pitching and may benefit from a bit of steerage from somebody who has been there and finished that numerous occasions. So earlier than you pitch an editor your subsequent story concept, learn the following pointers.
Do your analysis
You’d suppose this is able to be apparent, however my inbox signifies it isn’t: Know the publication you’re pitching earlier than you pitch. A great chunk of the freelance pitches I obtain both aren’t parenting associated in any respect, or don’t match the tone or function of Lifehacker. Earlier than you may write for an outlet, you must learn that outlet. You can not skip this step.
I do know writers spend loads of (unpaid) time writing pitches, and it may be tempting to craft one normal pitch to ship round to a number of editors. However you’re more likely to land an project when you’ve finished the work to hone the angle and tone of your pitch to finest match that individual publication. I can normally inform by the second sentence of an e mail whether or not a author has ever truly learn Offspring.
A part of studying and attending to know the publication is looking for what it has already printed—particularly what it has printed on the subject you wish to pitch. You possibly can assume a meals web site has already finished a slew of posts on “fast and simple weeknight dinners,” so earlier than you pitch that as an concept, search to see what they’ve already written. You may discover a gap of their protection (hey, the place are all the fast and simple weeknight casseroles?) or a singular angle they haven’t but explored—and that’s the concept you wish to pitch.
Subsequent, search for submission pointers. Some editors (normally editors at huge publications who obtain a lot of pitches) will let precisely how they like to be pitched, and what info they need upfront. Some editors need accomplished items; others (like me) need simply the concept. Some need accomplished items to be connected as a doc, whereas others want to have the textual content copied and pasted into an e mail.
Usually talking, not following the rules precisely isn’t going to mechanically disqualify you from ever writing for that website, but when they’re telling you the best way to make the method simpler for them, then make the method simpler for them. They’ll be extra more likely to learn—and settle for—your pitch if it’s in the popular format.
Persist with e mail
I, like many editors, obtain loads of e mail in a day. The overwhelming majority are pitches of some type, whether or not from a public relations company selling a shopper, a writer selling a e book, or a contract author pushing an concept they’d like to put in writing for our website. I dive in when I’ve time to wade by way of them, and bounce again out when I’ve to get again to my very own reporting and writing (which is how I spend the overwhelming majority of my day).
Having all of the pitches in a single place makes it a lot simpler for an editor to compartmentalize, handle their time, and file issues away. If pitches are additionally coming in from Fb Messenger, Twitter DMs, and LinkedIn, not solely can they get misplaced, an editor can rapidly really feel bombarded.
An instance of this: Not too long ago, somebody who wished to pitch me an concept first requested to pal me on Fb. I didn’t acknowledge them, so I deleted their request. They then despatched me a LinkedIn request, which I accepted, they usually started messaging me hyperlinks to movies they’d produced and individually added me to a LinkedIn group message with a bunch of individuals I have no idea as a way to ship me extra hyperlinks. After I toggled again over to Fb, they’d additionally despatched me a message request there, asking for my e mail tackle so they may pitch me.
It felt like this particular person was throughout my social media, pinging me from a number of instructions, when all they needed to do was look up my email address and ship me a pitch (they nonetheless haven’t truly pitched me, by the best way).
Some editors will say they don’t thoughts when you ship them a pitch through social media, however many extra editors don’t prefer it, so that you’re finest to stay to e mail except they are saying in any other case. (And don’t message them to ask for his or her e mail tackle except you’ve already hunted for it and completely can’t discover it. Chances are high superb it’s printed on the web site someplace.)
What to place in that e mail
Now that you just’re able to compose your pitch, hold it transient, and hold it related. I like when freelancers who’re pitching me for the primary time inform me a bit of about themselves (in a sentence or two, that’s), so long as it pertains to why they’re one of the best particular person to put in writing up the concept they’re sending me. For those who’re pitching me a bit about parenting a transgender youngster, and your youngster is transgender, that tells me you’ve got a perspective and expertise that’s related and useful to our readers. If you’re pitching me one thing health-related and you’ve got a background in nursing, I’d wish to know that.
Alternatively, once I open a pitch and encounter seven lengthy paragraphs through which the author introduces themself and provides me a bunch of profession and household background, however I can’t appear to find the precise concept, that’s an excessive amount of info. Present a quick introduction, then a concise abstract of your concept. If the concept is well-formed, this could actually solely take a paragraph or two. If you end up beginning to ramble or over-explain, that normally means the concept is simply too imprecise or basic and it is advisable to tighten it up.
Additionally, when you’re pitching an editor for the primary time, embody just a few hyperlinks to beforehand printed work. If in any respect potential, select hyperlinks which are most related to your pitch by way of content material or tone. For those who’re pitching a bit about youngsters and psychological well being, for instance, and you’ve got beforehand written about psychological health-related matters, that’s what an editor will wish to see.
Lastly, give the editor a while to reply earlier than you ship a followup e mail. Each editor operates in another way in how rapidly (or slowly) they reply. Some editors at huge publications obtain dozens of pitches a day, and should solely reply if it’s a “sure.” I feel it’s truthful to verify again in on a pitch when you haven’t heard something in a few weeks, however solely verify in as soon as. For those who’ve despatched two notes about the identical pitch they usually’re nonetheless not responding, assume they’ve determined to go.