Is there anything worse than a blind pitch? Whether you’re writing one or getting one, pitches can be a painful process. To new writers, the successful pitch formula is an enigma never to be mastered. To editors, poorly written pitch letters litter their inbox like grocery store plastic bags. After five years of on-again-off-again freelancing, I still have trouble creating a pitch editors will bite on, at least when it comes to the blind pitch.
Each April, I teach a half-day freelance writing workshop at the Nackey S. Loeb School of Communications in Manchester. A big segment of the seminar is spent on pitching. My advice is to get to know some editors first and find out what kind of stories they are looking for. Do they want you to submit a completed story first, or do they want a short pitch to consider first? How long are their pieces? Will taking a few photos improve your chances of landing a story? What parts of the publication are easiest to break into? Etc…
Eventually I get to the blind pitch – a.k.a. pitching an editor whom you’ve never met or spoken with before, typically at a larger, national publication. Really that’s what everyone is there to hear, getting their byline in Real Simple or Field and Stream. It may be my lack of confidence in front of a crowd, but when I explain to them that the best I’ve ever been able to get out of blind pitch are a few emails back from an associate editor, followed by silence, I can see disappointment flash across their faces.
Next month, I am slated to teach my Freelance Writing Workshop again, this time for a full day. For this extended seminar, I’d like to come armed with new and useful information, and if what they’re really want are tips on blind pitches, I figured I better get some together.
Hence my self-imposed first ever March Pitch-a-Thon. For the month of March I will focus at least one day a week and all additional down time to pitching as many publications as possible. The emphasis will be on publications where I don’t know the editor and where I’ve never pitched before – blind pitches. I’ll provide updates here, as well as some samples of my writing and pitches, as a resource for my future seminar students. It’s also one of those public shaming, deadline-driven initiatives to ensure I actually get things done.
Here’s my to-do list as I open my first ever Pitch-a-Thon:
- Make a list of stories you can rewrite or re-purpose for a national publication.
- Conduct additional research or editing to get these pieces ready for submission.
- Write those pitches.
- Find the right editor to send my pieces and get those pitches out the door.
- Come up with a list of stories I’m going to research and write from scratch, and a list of possible publications to send them.
- Gather sources, photos and other important information editors would want to see with my pitch.
- Write and submit the pitches.
While I tackle #1-4 this week, I threw this little Eat Pray Love-style pep talk to watch (at the top of the page).