Tuesday, July 15, 2014

How to Pitch Story Ideas to Magazines and Newspapers



The odds of winning the Lottery and becoming a millionaire are approximately 1 in 14 million. For authors to find a publisher, the odds are somewhat better.  Maybe 1 out of 500 or 1,000 queries, depending on the agent / publisher, might lead to a contract.  These publishing professionals receive 150 – 500 unsolicited book pitches per day! from writers.  Competition for writers when pitching at magazines and newspapers is less fierce.

You Don’t Need to Write Completely New Articles
As an author you did a lot of research already for your book, and you wrote a manuscript. What is
easier than to “re-work” this content? Tips how to do this can be found here in our former blog

How to Calculate a Book Page
Have you ever calculated how much time and money you invested in your book(s)? Added up the
hours you were sitting on your computer, typing away … and then the time you spend editing?
Multiplied by $30 or whatever you think is your writing-hour is worth? Divided the amount of your
editing invoice by the pages of your book?

Get Links to Your Website or Author Page
No matter if you get published paid (or unpaid at Huffington Post for example): Your website or
author page link is garantied, included in the short bio about you as an author at the end of the
article. It will be a longterm boost and a reference piece for your future publishing career.


To Sum it Up:
What is the benefit for you as an author to pitch to magazine editors?
  • Higher compensation / per page or word
  • No completely new content necessary
  • Build your platform and brand
  • Earn more money – and faster!
  • Less competition with other writers
  • Less time necessary to market an article
  • Articles will link to your site and market your book

Study Potential Contract Givers’ Websites
This is an important point! The biggest pet peeve for freelance employers or media is, when they receive pitches from people who haven’t read their magazine or researched their company – or when they get a query for a topic that has just been published. Know the magazine inside out!
Before submitting anything to a major publication, make sure you read its guidelines!  Plenty of good writing is rejected because the writer was too lazy to meet the guidelines. It goes without saying, but you should strive to avoid grammatical or spelling errors when contacting editors

Update your Writer Portfolio / Resume
If you have never freelanced before, your resume will be built from whatever past writing you have done. Pull out the writing-specific duties you ever have accomplished and describe them. Add your best blog posts or guest blogs or articles you have written for newspapers and magazines of all sizes – as more as better! Include sections that outline your education, professional affiliations and contact information. Check if you can use any of these points to add to your portfolio / resume:
  • what’s your credibility?
  • what are your credentials?
  • what other articles or books, blogs or articles for newspapers or magazines have you
  • written previously?
  • the size of your e-mail newsletter list
  • your website traffic and your Alexa.com ranking
  • number of blog comments
  • high-profile reviews,
  • testimonials or references for your writing from bestseller authors
  • what communities are you a part of?
  • who knows you as a writer and who is aware of your work?
  • where does your work regularly appear?
  • how many people see it?
Being visible to the right audience for the work you are trying to sell. A website or a blog is an absolute necessity these days. You have to be able to present your work online and to establish a powerful SEO (Search Engine Optimization).

Do Offer Several Images
Take images yourself with a good camera or buy high-quality photos in TIFF for print and in JPEG for online magazines to accompany your articles. You might send them with your first pitch if they are really appealing. Even if your article is not taken, your images might be purchased. Magazines and newspapers always scramble for high resolution photographs.

Learn to Write for the Web
If you offer magazine articles to online publications, get tips how to write for the web. Write with the “punch line” first, starting with the conclusion, rather than building up. One way to learn to write this way is to write the section first with all the details, and then go back and start it with a lead sentence or two. There is a huge difference between writing a book and writing short pieces for a magazine:

More Details How to Pitch

Jaclyn Law gave in an article via Mastheadonline.com more details:

  • check the masthead or website for editors’ names and contact info. Most publications accept pitches by email. Put your idea in the subject line.
  • pitch short pieces in the beginning. Check out the masthead (often on the first pages or last pages of the magazine/newspaper) to find out which types of stories are open to freelancers.
  • plan ahead! Magazines that publish monthly, have four- to six-month lead times; research and pitch ideas well in advance.
  • tell the editor how you will approach the story: first person, interviews with experts
  • how many words: one magazine page = approx. 750 words single space
  • why the article is timely: news hook, season, awareness week, anniversary and what fresh angle can you bring to the topic?
  • why you are the right writer: background details or credentials that support your case
  • mention if you’ve been published elsewhere
  • Editors like to see packaging ideas, e.g., boxes or sidebars (see writing for the web!)
  • polish and edit your query: spelling, grammar, punctuation – it must be perfect!
  • if you haven’t heard back after two to three weeks, follow up with a friendly email
  • proofread your writing several times and meet your deadline
  • provide fact-checking info; be open to feedback; make revisions promptly and you will have a chance to get a bigger story next time.
Here are Some Examples of Magazines to Pitch

If you want to expand your magazine writing: Have a look at
11 Websites to Find Freelance Writing Jobs and read about a great example how a writer could leverage a small part of his books content

Perfect for shy writers
Content book marketing is also perfect for shy writers who might cringe at stepping outside their comfort zone. They can promote their books at the end of each article they write and even add links to their website or book sales page. Traditional media is more and more outsourcing, barely any full-time writing staff is left, which means they are open to pitches from freelance contributors.

Your articles are creating content people love to share, because it is either funny / witty or useful advice or otherwise interesting for readers. Content is used to draw in your ideal readers / reviewers and to build a platform. The result: you will increase your exposure, show your writing skills, grow a loyal following and attract reviewers.  Use your writing to earn more, to spend less time “marketing” and do what you like to do most:  WRITING!  



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