Every week, my email inbox is flooded with pitches for stories and photo shoots. Of the dozens of ideas presented, very few will actually get published in FLARE. While many have potential, only a handful are winners. I wish I had a hundred more pages every month to fit them all in. Here are a few tips on making your pitch to any magazine stand out:
1. Understand the readership
Make sure you’ve read several issues of the magazine to get an accurate idea of their readers. At FLARE, I can’t use a feature on the challenges of parenting. That’s a better fit for our sister publication Today’s Parent. A feature on a local store owner who has been in business for 50 years works better for a newspaper or city magazine.
2. Explain your idea
A one line pitch makes it as far as my computer’s trash can. Tell me why your idea will work for FLARE. What makes it compelling and why will readers love it. What’s the “news”? I receive too many generic pitches. “Fitness trends from a personal trainer” sounds as exciting as yesterday’s workout socks. However, I’ll jump on a feature that promises an insider’s look at a hot new fitness trend promoted by an of-the-minute celebrity.
3. Include samples of your work
I need to read a new writer’s past published articles or blogs to feel confident that he/she will meet our standards. Provide links to web sites – and make sure they work. If you send scans, make sure they are legible. Which leads me to…
4. Don’t pitch before you’re ready
If you think you’ve got great ideas but you’ve never been published, a national magazine isn’t the best place to start. Start small and build a solid portfolio of clippings. Launch a blog and contribute frequently. When I started freelance writing, my very first piece was for a trade magazine. I wasn’t paid but I was able to use it as an introduction to other trade magazines and local newspapers. When I felt confident to approach the monthly glossies, the editors were already familiar with my work.
I’ll be back again next week. In the meantime, you can follow me on Twitter at www.twitter.com/lisatant
Photo: Courtesy of HBO