So you wanna be a writer? How to pitch to editors and publications
You’ve got a great idea and know how to write it but what can you do with it? Do you write up your idea and just put it on your Facebook page knowing what a harsh and ill-informed critic your auntie can be? Do you hide it in a folder on your computer that you won’t be able to forget about because it’ll be there all the time, judging you for abandoning it?
Or do you do a bit of digging and find a publication to send it to? Assuming you’re going for the last option, here are some helpful hints about how to pitch an idea to editors and publications that might prove useful.
Research, research, research
Research can mean a lot of things and the reality is you’ll probably be doing more research than writing, so get good at it. Look into the publication you want to send it to – even read it (might sound stupid but a lot of people don’t), research whether they’ve run anything similar recently, and most importantly, research the piece you want to write. No point getting all the way to talking to the editor if they then find a glaring hole in your idea that you would have spotted if you’d just spent a little longer making sure you’d covered all the bases.
Target the right section and the right editor
Don’t just send it to their general email address. No one in the entire history of the internet has ever checked the general email address of the company they work for, so just don’t bother. Find the section you’d like to see it published in and send it to the correct editor. Once you’ve found who you’re looking for they should have an email address linked to the publication somewhere.
Make sure the idea you have is clear and concise in your summary of it and try and keep it as short as possible. Also, if you’re worried you might be giving away too much, then don’t. If the idea is good, just leave out a few small details which you can introduce when you’ve started to develop a relationship / received a reply via email.
Give a brief summary of who you are
“My names Jane / John and I’m a writer and I’ve got an idea for . . . ” sadly won’t be enough to show off your writing credentials. Make sure to list any other (if you have them) credits to your name or any competitions you might have won, courses you’ve taken, or even any Tweets you posted that got over 500 Retweets. Feel free to even spruce them up a bit. Don’t lie, but you’re a writer – make yourself sound good!
Be patient (but don’t fall asleep)
Patience is key to a lot of things in life (which is why there are so many goddamn quotes and sayings about being patient on your sister’s Instagram page) so that’s something you’ll have to get good at. But that’s not to say you should never chase people up.
Editors will be receiving a lot of emails about a lot of things and even if they like something you’ve sent them, it might get lost in the general jungle of life, so give it a little time and then maybe drop them an email to double check they’ve got it. Probably don’t call though. 1) It’s kind of annoying and 2) who the hell has a landline anymore anyway?
So there you have it – a few (hopefully) helpful hints that could help you on your journey to your first Pulitzer prize (or at least a paid writing gig). “But what about writing for Film Daily?” we hear your internal dialogue saying. Well, here are some more specific hints for pitching to us.
Before you send us something, make sure you’ve done a ton of research on us. And by that we mean our style, our tone, and our voice. If you don’t like ours, we mostly likely won’t like yours.
It maybe a great idea in your head but it’s got to come across to us. Maybe try it on some friends first to make sure they know what you’re talking about before you send it over.
Give a brief summary of who you are and your past credits
You could be anyone. And that’s fine. Just let us know who you are and what you’ve done before and that’ll really help us get the ball rolling.
Feel free to followup on your pitch, but don’t send us other pitches
You will hear back from us so don’t panic. If it’s taking a bit of time feel free to drop us another message, but don’t send us another pitch until we’ve dealt with the first one.
Include samples of your previous work
You don’t have to be a published novelist. You don’t even have to been published anywhere. But it’s really, really helpful for us to see something else you’ve written.