Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Hitting the spot

How do you know when you have written the perfect pitch that an editor will snatch up? It's not always as easy as it seems. You can do the usual things that writers and editors suggest: Read several back copies, cover to cover, including adverts, letters page, etc. But even if you do that, sometimes you still get a negative response. And if you keep getting negative responses from the same editors for everything you pitch to them you may be forgiven for thinking that your ideas and pitches just aren't up to it.

Well, you'd be wrong! There are many, many reasons why editors don't respond favourably (if at all) to your pitches/article ideas: They've run something very similar recently, they've just accepted a pitch from another writer on a similar theme, the topic you're covering just isn't current enough for them, your style of writing doesn't appeal to them, they are bursting at the seam with copy and there's no room for yours, they just don't want copy from freelance writers because they do a lot of it themselves, in-house.

But, thankfully, there is light at the end of the tunnel. One editor's reject is another editors delight! If one editor rejects your idea, repackage it and send it to another editor - keep doing this until you run out of editors (this should take a long time!) and when you've exhausted all avenues, go back to your pitch, try going at it from a different angle and re-pitch it to the first editor you sent it to... stranger things have happened - they might accept it. You never know.

To be a writer you need three things: 1. knowledge, 2. Talent, 3. Tenacity/determination. And it's the tenacity and determination that you need the most! Keep going and you stand a chance of being published. Stop, and you have no chance whatsoever. Just something to think about.

Happy writing

Friday, 14 June 2013

Like Buses

I don't know, you don't have an article idea for ages and then all of a sudden several turn up at once! And, have you noticed that when you have little or no time to write, all your ideas flood out, but when you have all the time in the world to write, you get none! I think that's called Writers' Law!

But don't knock it! Make hay while the sun (sore point at the moment, sorry!) shines as they say. I find that each single article idea can generate at least three spin offs - with a little lateral thinking. You could target three different magazines with one idea that's been tweaked.

For example:

Idea: Cake baking.

Spin off 1: Is our obsession with cup cakes fuelling obesity? - for a national newspaper.
Spin off 2: Cup cake baking for the terrified! A beginner's guide to baking the perfect cup cake using your unique flavours - for a cookery magazine.
Spin off 3: The history of the cup cake - for a history magazine or specialist magazine.

You can do this with absolutely any idea you have for articles and the more spin offs you can think of the better! Think of the selling /money making potential you can have if you treble your pitches from one original idea!

Let us know how you get on.

Happy writing

Julie xx

Sunday, 2 June 2013

Make your approach in 5 easy steps

It's an interesting time to be a writer. Times are changing - there are less outlets for our work and more people trying to make a living from writing. The competition is fierce so how can you make your pitch stand out from the rest?

It's all in the approach. Your initial contact with an editor is all important so it's essential you get this first contact right. What I would advise is this:

1. Make sure you send your initial query to the right person: find out the name, contact details and how they like to be approached from the publications website on the internet, the magazine itself, or phone them. Editors do not like to be addressed as 'Dear Editor.' It marks you out as sloppy, unprofessional and not bothered to find out about the magazine.

2. What style of pitch do they want? Length, details, a short initial query, full article, a short bio of yourself as a writer and samples of your previous work? There's no point sending them the full article if all they have time to read is a short pitch.

3. The tone of your pitch needs to be right: not cocky or overpowering but professional and polite. Don't tell the editor their job! Let them be the judge of whether they think your article will be perfect for their magazine.

4. Be a grammar puss: Check, check, recheck and check again your spelling and grammar in your email to the editor. Any spelling mistakes and grammatical errors will mark you out as an amateur and will not give the editor a good impression or much faith in your ability to write good copy.

5. Don't be needy: once you've prepared the pitch, are sure who to send it to and how, send it off and forget about it for at least a week. Don't go harassing the poor editor five minutes after you've sent it. Editors are incredibly busy people and are not constantly gazing at their computer screens waiting for the ping of their in box. Unless the editor states otherwise, leave it a week before gently nudging. A short, polite e-mail stating who you are, what you sent and when, whether they received it and whether they've had chance to look at it is all that's required.

Following these five easy steps will get you closer to having your pitch accepted. Having a professional and polite, knows-what- they- are- talking- about approach will give you that edge when to comes to pitching articles.

Happy pitching!
Julie xx