Once you’ve come up with a brilliant idea for an article, the next step is to pitch it to editors who can help you get the visibility you’re looking for.
Unfortunately, there’s no way to guarantee that your pitch will be successful, and considering that most editors receive hundreds if not thousands of pitches from would-be writers every month, even rejection letters have become something of a rarity.
But as difficult as it is, the pitching process is something every writer has to go through at some point in their career, and the good news is that there are plenty of things you can do to increase your chances of getting noticed.
1. Track down the right person
Most magazines and websites have multiple editors that deal with different topics and sections, so it’s important to make sure your pitch reaches the right person. Sometimes you can find a “Submission guidelines” or “Writer’s guidelines” page with the information you need, but if you’re not sure who to contact, you can always call or send a quick email to ask which editor deals with the section you’re interested in pitching to and how you should get in touch.
2. Mention sources or experts
Editors love it when you can quote experts or have access to sources with firsthand knowledge of the topic you’re writing about, so rounding up one or two people who are willing to be featured in your article can greatly increase your chances of success.
For instance, if your article refers to a study, you could try contacting one of the researchers for a few original quotes or if your story is about the challenges working mums face, you could interview a working mother to get her insights on the issues you’re highlighting.
3. Keep it short and to the point
Editors are busy people, so it’s best to keep pitches as brief as possible. While there is no ‘right’ length for a query, your first email shouldn’t be more than a couple of paragraphs that sum up your idea, explain why you should be the one to write it, and possibly share a link or two to some of your writing samples. If the editor is interested, he or she will get in touch to ask for more information.
4. Come up with a great subject line
The subject line of your email is the first thing an editor will see, and research conducted by Buzzstream and Fractl shows that 85% of publishers decide whether or not they are interested in a pitch just by looking at an email’s subject line and 75% prefer subject lines that are under 10 words. They also indicated that subject lines should be tailored to the writer’s beat and should be both specific and descriptive.
5. Do your research
The surest way to have your pitch ignored is to suggest an idea or article that isn’t right for the publication or has recently been covered. Before you put together a pitch, take the time to read the publication and research what sort of articles and topics are popular, how they are structured, what the average word count is, and whether or not your topic has previously been written about.
Keep in mind that even if a topic has been covered in the past, you can usually still write about it as long as you’re able to come up with a fresh angle.