An Intro on How to Pitch Publications

Hi there, Friends!

I’m teaching a few writing workshops at the Visual Arts Center of Richmond on the ins and outs of freelancing, and I wanted to share a little sneak peek of my class. Below is an excerpt from my writing workshop on pitching publications. These are just a few things I’ve gleaned over the past 9 years on pitching various magazines, newspapers and websites. In my writing workshop, the pitching segment of the class also will addresses types of pitches (with examples), my pitching pro-tips, how to brainstorm story ideas, and what to do when an editor doesn’t respond to your query.

The second half of my class will address how to turn one story idea into many, along with the writing/editing procedures that follow after you’ve been assigned as story.

Best, Marissa


HOW TO PITCH

With the current climate of the media, editors are relying on freelancers more than ever. They are looking to hire writers who are in-the-know and can pitch great stories.

WHAT IS PITCHING? Pitching is sending an editor a story proposal (AKA query) that summarizes what you will write in your story while also explaining why the story is relevant, timely and a fit for the publication.

BEFORE YOU PITCH you need to do research on your story idea and the publication you are pitching. 

    • While researching the subject-matter, make sure you have a specific angle that makes your story unique and authentic. If you want to get on an editor’s radar, be sure you craft story pitches that are well-researched, relevant and insightful. Nothing annoys editors more than broad topic story pitches without a defined angle.
    • Read the publication. Familiarize yourself with the magazines/newspaper/website’s sections. If it’s a magazine, see what kind of stories are published in the front-of-book and features sections. See what columns are regularly featured from issue to issue. Study the publication so you can understand where the story will fit.
    • Scope out the publication’s website and see if they have posted any pitching guidelines or an editorial calendar.

TYPES OF PITCHES

    • Pitches much like stories come in all shapes and sizes. Some are brief and to-the-point and others are longer and more in-depth.
    • When you write your story proposal, make sure all your ducks are in a row, and be prepared to answer any follow-up questions your editor may have. You’ll want to include the who, what, when, where, why of the story.
          • For instance, you’ll want to include statistics and research to back up your idea, list what people you are going to interview, and explain why the timing is right. If you are an expert or have a personal tie to the story, you explain that as well.
    • The style and tone in which you write your pitch is crucial to you receiving the assignment. While your story proposal should be pithy and straightforward, it shouldn’t lack in personality. Write the pitch like you’d write the story.

For more on pitching stories, read my article “How to become your editor’s MVP” on MediaBistro. And to sign up for one of my freelance writing workshops, visit VisArts’ website.

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