I am no stranger to the art of the pitch. Not only have I written hundreds of them, but I also receive quite a few for my House Guest series at my newspaper blog. I have learned that while there may be numerous strategies for writing a successful pitch tailored to speak directly to a specific editor, there are also some universal mistakes that every writer will make at some point.
If you want to create a polished pitch letter then make doubly sure you have avoided these eight mistakes:
1) Emoji’s Are Lame
When I open a pitch from someone I do not know and they are asking me to publish their work on my site, I immediately delete their email when I see an emoji face in place of words. If you cannot use words to express your ideas, wants, or feelings then you are not showing me that you can write well. OWN YOUR WORDS.
2) You Are Not That Humble
There is something awkward and low-class about receiving an email peppered with phrases like, “OMG, I would love you if…” or “pretty please” or even “it would be such a humbling honor if”. Begging is unprofessional and manipulative. If you truly are humble then show by the structure of your pitch letter by expressing respectful language and following basic etiquette.
Get to your point as quickly and clearly as possible. Tell the editor who you are and what you want in fewer than 100 words. Then paste your BEST links – no more than three at the end of your pitch. Be sure to leave a friendly yet professional- NOT lovey-dovey – salutation with a call to action like, “I look forward to hearing from you soon!” BOOM. Done.
4) Proving You Have No Idea Who The Editor Is
Do not tell the editor you are pitching that you found them by Googling the Internet. Take the time to actually read the site you are pitching and get a feel for who they are, what they publish, and take note of how you might be able to contribute in an innovative way. Then take the time to express that to the editor!
5) Clips With Broken Links Are Worse Than Not Sending Clips
If you send a few clips of your work then make sure that the links you use actually work. Do not make the editor email you back asking for workable links. First of all, most editors won’t bother to ask, they will just delete your email. Secondly, if you start an editorial relationship by making your editor do the leg work to find out about you then you are immediately telling that editor that your work is sloppy.
6) Pitching The Wrong Material
Do not pitch a site with a story that clearly will not work. For example, my blog is a non-political, non-religious humor site for moms, so imagine my surprise when I got a pitch from a right-wing religious woman who wanted me to share her list on why housewives need to accept Jesus in their hearts to be better wives and mothers who serve both God and their husbands. NOPE. This woman clearly has never read my blog. Ever.
7) Be Patient, Dear Grasshopper
Do not be impatient while waiting for a response. It is customary to wait at least 7 – 10 business days before you send a brief and super polite follow-up email. Make sure you read the site to see what they say about follow-up emails and general contact guidelines. They may ask you NOT to do this.
8) Slap Dash Emails Are Lazy
Do not take 5 minutes to write a pitch. TAKE YOUR TIME! I cannot tell you how many emails I have received that were full of spelling mistakes or smashed up sentences that looked like the person was sending me a drunk text. Polish your pitch. This is the first point of contact and it should reflect that you are a solid writer, so use your big kid writer words.#8 Your pitch letter should not look like a drunken text @housewife_plus Click To Tweet
REMEMBER: When you pitch a magazine, a website, or another blog you need to be polite, professional, and brief. Make your point boldly