Guest Post By Alexandra Rosas
Every blogger wants to see their words published. It’s why we submit. We already know that rejection comes with the writing territory, and the more times you send your work in, the greater the chance of hearing “No.” But we keep on submitting, because we know we have something to say.
I love opening my inbox to read the words, “We love your piece and would like to run it in our next issue,” as much as any other writer, but in all honesty, those emails are few and far between. To increase the chances of hearing yes to submissions, we have to perfect our pitching technique. That means knowing who to pitch and where to pitch. How plays a big part in there too.
Pitching is competitive. Magazine editors receive lots of pitches for just so many slots. Pitching takes confidence (even the pretend kind), so sounding like what you’ve sent in is the greatest thing in the world, is required. As a blogger, you’ve spent time reading the content of the site you’re targeting, and you know there is talent out there. Good stuff written by competent people, it’s what every editor I’ve worked with has told me they want. They dream of editorial calendars filled with that month’s themes and the hot topics hitting the news, all written in a can’t-turn-away-from style.
You can up your chances of being that dream catch for editors by following these absolute musts before you pitch:
- Be familiar with the magazine’s style and content. Don’t pitch a “1-Minute Cupcakes in a Mug!” piece to a magazine called “Made From Scratch with Hours of Love.”
- Tell the editor why you’re a good gamble. What is it about you that makes you the one to write this piece? When I pitch my memoir essay pieces, I preface with a few sentences on my life as a first generation American and how this provides a fresh perspective on life in America. I’m qualified to write it because I’ve lived it. Remember the editor doesn’t know you, so tell them who you are in a two sentence bio, and include links to your most prominent work.
- It helps to have developed a good reputation. Be sure you always deliver, never miss a deadline, and come through with what you promise. It’s a small world, and editors talk. Be the kind of writer where words like “dependable, reliable,” are used when talking about you. Here’s a handy tip: name drop every chance you get about who you’ve worked with.
- Provide a connection to you and their magazine. “I’ve read your issue from April, 2014, and really enjoyed the piece on homeschooling. I’ve been homeschooling since 2010, and would love to offer a follow up piece on homeschooling during the high school years.” This tells them why you’re a match.
- Editors have to fill their pages with content that is quality and stands out enough that people will want to keep reading. Find an angle that is unique and sparks interest. Along with relevancy and timeliness, a compelling style makes it hard for any editor to say no. Your job is to convince the editor that’s why their audience wants you.
- You really do need to pitch three or four months before a print issue is on the stands. I just sent in a pitch on women and insomnia for a May issue on women’s health. The editor loved the idea but her May issue was already filled. I sent this story idea in the first week of February thinking that was enough lead in time. I will now pitch four months out.
- No typos, no errors, spell everything the way it should be. The magazine, the editor’s name, anything in your submission must be correct.
- It can be overwhelming when you gather your gumption and decide to go for the big submit. For me, the most important thing to remember is to break things down step by step and talk myself through. I start with “Editors want good writing.” I move on to asking myself if what I’m sending in is good writing. If it’s not, then I go back and polish everything up until I can honestly answer, it’s the best thing the editor will read that day.
Pitching is not for the shy, so get over your delicate nature and follow up if you don’t hear anything in two weeks. Ask if they received your initial inquiry dated such and such, “Hello! My name is xx and I sent in a pitch about women saying no to dying their hair. I wanted to know if you’ve had a chance to look at it yet. If you think this is something that would interest your readers, I’d love to tell you more!” Emails do get lost. A submission slush pile does exist. That’s why it never hurts to follow up. It also shows interest, not just a passing 3 AM impulsive submission.
If after you’ve pitched and done everything right, you still get the “Don’t call us, we’ll call you,” response, no worries. Re-work your pitch. Turn it around with a few tailored tweaks and send it on to your next publication, the one that is just waiting for you.
Alexandra is an award-winning blogger and BlogHer VOTY four years running. She is a published author, live storyteller with The Moth, and co-producer of Listen To Your Mother Milwaukee. You can follow her adventures of life in a small town where she tries hard to go unnoticed on her personal blog Good Day Regular People. She is a contributor to Huffington Post, Purple Clover, MetroParent, and several other online sites. Find her online as Twitter and Facebook.