For my first real magazine writing job, I didn’t have a clue what I was doing. I read about pitching online and paid $15 to get a template (there weren’t any free ones around at the time). I threw an email at a number of editors and attached my story. Then I got that magical reply — an editor had accepted my story. It’s the best feeling as a writer and I want you to have that same success.
That’ s why one of my magazine editors Kineta Booker and I, have teamed up to bring you a pitching template that’s simple and effective to get you started:
I like to follow this simple structure when I pitch an editor.
- A clear subject line.
- Addressed to the editor’s name.
- One sentence introducing yourself. You are selling the article idea, not yourself, so keep this brief.
- One sentence introducing the article. Suggested title (if it’s already written a word count is included as well).
- A small paragraph explaining the article, what you’ll cover, what angle you’ll take, and who you have lined up to interview (if you are going to).
- A couple of lines about why it fits their magazine/website and why it will be useful or interesting to their readers. Will they be able to relate, learn from it, be better informed, be entertained? (Make sure you have actually seen their articles and know that the magazine/website is a good match for your story!)
- Whether it has been printed somewhere before and when. Many editors will take reprints but they need to know they are not getting first rights. (This site has a very thorough rundown of rights and what they mean.) You don’t have to include which rights you are offering them in the pitch. Simply mention if it has been printed somewhere before.
- Timeline — tell them when you can have it ready by, or attach the full article if it’s already written — for example, This article can be ready for you within 5 days from acceptance.
- Attach the article (if it’s written) and links to a couple of samples of your writing so they can see your voice and style.
- Your name and contact details — email and/or phone number.
Here’s a good example from Megan Nolte on Influence&Co’s blog
Subject Line: Exclusive Contributed Article Submission: Reaching Out to Editors
I hope you’ve had a great start to your week! My name is Meagan Nolte, and I’m a publication strategist at Influence & Co. I have written an exclusive, non-promotional article for The Knowledge Bank.
In my article, I offer advice to thought leaders and marketers about how they can reach out to editors to get their content published online. I’ve included actionable tips about how to write the email so it’s more appealing for a busy editor to read, and I’ve provided examples of both good and bad emails.
I think this article would fit perfectly on your site. It helps further the conversation presented in another article published a few months ago and will help provide your readers with a more well-rounded knowledge of this topic.
My article and headshot are attached for you to review. Feel free to make any editorial changes that you see fit, or let me know if there is anything else you need.
Remember to sign off with your contact details too.
Final notes on pitching
Keep it brief and precise — editors are busy people.
Kineta Booker says, “Don’t ask what payment is. The editor knows to talk about that.” Trust that if they like your article, they will contact you to discuss rates.
After you send it off, expect to wait a while. You may not hear a reply at all if they’re not interested. After a week you could send a one- to two-line polite email reminder. If you still don’t hear back, assume they’re not interested. Send you idea elsewhere.
When you get rejections, don’t let it discourage you. It may be that they’ve just run a similar story recently, or that your idea would be better for later in the year.
Pitching can be difficult but don’t give up too soon!
Pitch a lot. Expect that 90% will be rejected and just keep pitching. Most areas of writing take a lot of work to break into but once you’ve been published in one place it does become a lot easier — I promise!
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