I was so excited to attend this weeks Freelance Journalism Class because it was about how to write the perfect pitch when sending out queries to magazine publications. Researching on the internet can be helpful but it is really overwhelming at times and can make for “lazy” mass pitching.
Our instructor, Greg Pratt, gave us some great pitch examples from one of his colleagues and mentors: John Threlfall, who is also a Journalist himself and an Instructor at The University of Victoria. Check out Johns profile here.
John is the ex-Monday Magazine editor-in-chief so he has a lot of experience in pitching and what the perfect pitch should look like.
In the examples of good work and bad work, John made some very important points about pitching:
-Know your market- finding the magazine you want to write for and knowing that publication in and out. Reading it cover to cover is the best way to find the tone of the articles and how you should structure your writing. Even reading a few of their past issues will give you some great insight into the writers who consistently write for the magazine.
-Never underestimate the power of politeness- when addressing an editor you should be casual but not too casual in your first inquiry. Also if you say you’re going to get back to an editor with something like an article example, than do so even if you haven’t heard back from your first letter.
-Never bother an editor with obvious questions-before you pitch a magazine you should already know if they actually hire freelancers or if they only have staff writers. How often does the publication go out? What are the writers guidelines?
Do the research and already know the answers to these kinds of questions. Which brings us to the next point:
-Do your research and prove you’re worth their time!
-Pitch first, write later- Greg says this is the most common way freelancers write, but not in ALL cases. Interviewing usually comes after you’ve sealed the deal with a magazine to write an article for them. It’s not likely you will interview someone first in hopes you get the job, but some publications do take articles that are already written. Again, this is something you should know from the writers guidelines.
A great pitch should always be short, specific and to the point and informative. Having a proven track record does help, but you can leave that out if you’re a newby like me 😉 Make sure to include your contact info as well since you want that editor to get in touch with you.
Apparently some people don’t include stuff like that… so don’t be one of those
Stay tuned for next weeks class details and I hope you enjoy!
Happy writing! xo