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.