Friday, 1 November 2013

Head Above the Parapet

How do you write your pitch or article so that it stands out above the thousands of others that are also doing the rounds trying to grab the attention of the stressed and snowed under editor? It can be hard to remain positive and motivated when you know there are thousands of writers who, just like you, are fighting for those all important and highly coveted publication slots - but, with a bit of thought, some inspiration and thinking outside of the box, it can be and should be you who makes it through. Why shouldn't it be?

The first thing I'd say is to KNOW YOUR MARKET. The importance of this cannot be stressed enough. This is closely followed by KNOW WHICH EDITOR TO SEND IT TO. It's no good sending an editor of a magazine a pitch that shows them that a) it's a generic round robin e-mail sent to all of their rival magazines too or b) it shows them that you haven't bothered to read their magazine or have read it but have missed the point. Would you reply to someone who got your name wrong or who didn't know who you were? They don't like it and they won't commission you. So, whatever you do - DO YOUR HOMEWORK.

The next thing I consider to be important is to NOT TRY TO SELL THEM WHAT THEY ALREADY HAVE. It can be tempting to read one issue of the magazine and try to emulate the same thing. It won't work. Editors need new material that hasn't been done to death so package it up from a different angle. Do you have personal experience or knowledge and expertise in a certain field that would make it a better and more interesting, living, piece than if it were written by a staff writer with no clue on the topic? If so - get in there and flaunt your wares shamelessly!

A big clue I picked up on whilst reading magazines is to check out the 'COMING NEXT ISSUE' section. This will tell you what the editor has lined up so you won't make the mistake of offering them something they already have covered. The READER LETTERS page can also be a mine of information too as can the EDITOR'S NOTE, usually at the beginning of the magazine. They give you a valuable insight into what the readers like and dislike in the magazine and also give you a glimpse into the psyche of the editor and what he likes in the magazine.

So do consider the above when you're pitching to editors. Show the editor that you have a professional approach, know the magazine, care about the magazine, have thought hard about what readers and the editor might be interested in and presented it a way that clearly shows you are capable of writing well and you'll stand out from the crowd.

Happy writing
Julie xx

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