Great work day yesterday. I managed to get a good chunk of work done on my article. If my day hadn’t been interrupted by an appointment, I would have finished it. Today, for sure.
I worked a little later than usual – 6 pm – because of the interruption. I spent an hour trying to locate a home for my latest article idea. I narrowed it down to three possibilities and went for the one that paid the best. Why not? If the idea fits and I can slant it to their particular style, why not get paid top dollar for it? The other two markets could work with a little tweaking of the slant. And if all else fails, I can make it a regional story that could fit at least three different regional pubs.
As I walked through some of the writer’s guidelines, I noticed some that seemed to fit given their titles, but on closer inspection clearly weren’t going to work. Had I not looked, I’d have wasted time and effort. Not that my pitch will be accepted, but I’ve increased the chances by doing the homework.
How do you go about pitching ideas? I ask myself these questions:
Do they publish this kind of idea? Browse the online magazine or head to the library or bookstore (are any bookstores still open?) to see what content appears.
No, really – do they publish this kind of idea? Don’t kid yourself. If you think it’s a killer idea and they’ll love it despite the fact it doesn’t fit, you’ll be disappointed.
What do I need to do to fit their style? Who is their audience? What do they read most? Luckily for us, most magazines have a “most read” and “most commented” section of their online version. What stands out? How does my idea fit with that theme?
Are they going to be okay with an electronic submission? I’ve done paper queries, but they take up a ton of time (and paper). If there’s a publication that allows for email queries, I’m going to pitch to that one first.
Whose voice do they want? What kinds of experts are they going to need to see in the story? Or is this a story that’s from a personal perspective only?
What samples do I have that can convince them I’m the one for the job? Because my own samples are from business and trade mostly, I choose ones that have a more conversational tone for consumer mag pitches. Choose ones that have strong hooks and showcase your best writing.
What process do you use to make sure your pitches are near perfect?