Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Sucking Eggs

I'm not trying to teach my grannie to suck eggs here, but it does no harm to get back to basics with your article writing and it might well help you get that sale. I know you know it and you've heard it a million times before, but I can't champion enough the importance for article writers to research the market, follow the individual editor's/publication's submission guidelines to the letter, address the pitch/article to the name of the current editor of the magazine and not just Sir or Madam. If you're not sure who the editor is, and you should do if you've researched the market thoroughly, then look at a current issue of the magazine to clarify. If it's not clear whether they take pitches from freelance writers then find a phone number/e-mail address for the editor in the magazine and make contact. This is no time to be shy! You won't then waste yours or the editor's time if they don't take freelance contributions, but you might gain a sale if they do.

Most of all, from my own experience, it's important that article writers, (any writer for that matter), keep trying. Keep looking for new magazine's to pitch to as well as pitch to your old favourites and to never give up. If it's a no from the editor this time, it might be a yes next time. There's usually no rhyme or reason to why one pitch makes it through to acceptance whilst another doesn't  -  that doesn't really matter. What matters is you don't let all the 'no thank yous' stop you from trying again. There will be many no thank yous, but there will be some yes pleases too.

 Yes it is hard to get an article published, particularly in the current market. Lots of magazines have gone under, but there are plenty of survivors and new magazines popping up. So go back to basics, widen your net and you might find yourself pitching to and being published in magazines you never thought you would be in!

Happy pitching.

Julie xx


  1. "There's usually no rhyme or reason to why one pitch makes it through to acceptance whilst another doesn't - that doesn't really matter."

    It's often the way that you feel moved to comment on the one thing you don't agree with and not the ninety-nine things you do - so advance apologies, but I think I'll have to hold up a polite hand of objection to this!

    There may be no apparent reason, but I would argue that there will be one, more often than not. The pitch is sloppy. The idea is dull. The idea has been done recently. It's good but another writer's is similar and better. Lots of possibilities.

    You're right that you shouldn't be put off, but I do think it matters to think a little about - but not agonise over - where a pitch may have gone wrong (or indeed right). You can learn a lot about the editor's likes and dislikes, and your own selling technique.

    But I do like your blog, Julie!


  2. Hi, Alex,

    what I meant was that you don't always know what was wrong with your pitch as editors either just give a polite no thank you without going into why, or don't get back to you at all. So, in that respect, you don't always know if it was your pitch itself, or another reason.

    Yes, we should always be striving to improve our pitches and that will come with practise or through our market research: by reading the magazine we can see the tone of it and adjust our pitch accordingly.

    I haven't sent many pitches out this year as I'm in short story mode at the moment but I intend to get some magazines this weekend and have a good read (all in the name of research, of course!) and try and formulate some pitches - I need to do this for the journalism course assignment anyway - so it will be interesting to see how I get on.

    I was lucky a few months back to have the editor of one of the writing mags go through my pitch with me, and why it failed, which was a great help. I know editors generally don't have time to tell you what was wrong with your pitch, so I am eternally grateful that he did!

    We live and learn!

    Julie xx