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


  1. Great advice Julie! I've come up against this very subject in the last week...

    I am going on the phone next week to try and get the information I need.

    Good post, thank you.

  2. Thanks, Maria - glad my post was so topical for you - and good luck!
    Julie xx