Thursday, 29 August 2013

Right Person, Right Time

The path of a freelance writer is not a straight or easy one. There are obstacles in our way and route to publication can be a long and winding one. But, if we want to succeed and be a regularly published freelance writer we have to be prepared for that journey.

It doesn't help when some magazines seemingly make it incredibly difficult for writers to contact them with potential feature ideas! They don't always print contact details in the magazine themselves. This is where a bit of lateral thinking comes in.

I had come up with a few ideas over the weekend to pitch to a certain magazine. Now, when I last tried to pitch to them I couldn't find any email addresses. I knew who the features editor was, but had no clue how to contact them. So I enlisted the help of a Facebook friend who had been recently published in that magazine and asked her. They very graciously obliged and I had that all important contact e-mail. I didn't get a commission that time.

So, I looked in a recent copy of the magazine and saw that the features editor had changed. So, using the same format of e-mail as last time, but with changing the name I sent my pitch off. But it bounced back. All the best laid plans and all that - that'll teach me for trying to be too clever. Any way, I decided that the best course of action was to actually phone the features writer for that magazine who was the only one listed as having a phone number.

It is always nerve racking phoning a magazine editor. But, it pays to remember that they too are human, just like you, and do want to hear your ideas - they need a constant supply of good content. Just remember to be prepared, though. They might want you to tell them a bit about yourself and your past publications. They might also want you to talk through your ideas there and then. On the other hand, they might just give you a contact name and e-mail address to send your pitches too. Sometimes they might not be that co-operative and say no thank you not to day! You have to be prepared for all eventualities.

This is your chance to sell your writing to that editor. Take your time to think about what you are going to say and listen intently to what the editor says to you. Either record their instructions or jot them down for reference later. Slow your breathing and speech down and try to relax. The editor doesn't want a jabbering, stuttering wreck they can't understand on the phone. Don't let your nerves get the better of you.

It takes time for an editor to get to know you and your work so don't expect miracles with your first few pitches. Your pitches might not be accepted initially, but keep trying. Make sure you have read several back copies of that magazine and the recent issue and you are pitching appropriate ideas. Having said that, I once pitched an idea to a magazine I hadn't tried before and got my first pitch ever accepted by them. On the other hand, with another magazine it took several attempts. KEEP TRYING!

Happy pitching and phoning!
Julie xx

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Make it a habit

To make any kind of headway as a freelance writer you have to be coming up with ideas and pitching several of them a day. It's no good sending a pitch out when the mood takes you, once in a blue moon. By sending out your pitches regularly to the same magazines you are making an impression on that editor and getting your name known. They know you are not just a one trick pony and that you are a serious writer.

But you want to make the right kind of impression. You don't want to bombard them with article ideas that are so far off the mark they are left wondering if you actually know what magazine they are features editor for!  And that takes time, preparation and research.

You have to read back copies of your chosen magazines as well as the latest issue. And don't forget to look at the 'what's coming up next' section so you don't pitch an article idea they are already covering next month. Notice the tone of the articles they do publish. Is it chatty, or more formal - do they use lots of quotes from experts or more case studies from ordinary people?

Writing your pitch in the style of the magazine shows the editor you have bothered to read their magazine and can write in the style they favour. And don't forget to address your pitch to the right person, otherwise there's a risk it will get banded about for weeks before reaching the right person, or, worse case scenario, it just gets deleted. Look in the magazine as there is usually an e-mail address or phone number you can use to find out who the appropriate person to address and how, is.

But the most important thing is to try and make pitching articles a habit not a thing you do when you've got a spare five minutes or so. Regular pitching is your friend! The more wonderful, appropriately pitched article ideas you send out there, the better your chances of a hit.

Happy pitching!


Friday, 9 August 2013

What's your inspiration?

What would you say is your biggest inspiration when you are searching for ideas for your articles?
For me it is often reading through back copies and recent issues of my target magazine that will start my creativity popping. By reading the magazines I can get a real feel for the ethos of the magazine  - what they are trying to achieve by what they publish, their readership, and the editors likes and dislikes as to the material they want in their publication.

At other times it might be something someone says or does, or something I've read elsewhere or seen on the TV or Internet that might set me off. For me - inspiration is everywhere. I just have to capture the idea and work into something viable for publication.

Le us know what were the more quirkiest methods of inspiration for you.

Happy idea hunting!

Julie xx