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What is Pitching?

A little less baseball and a little more Devil Wears Prada

You’re ready to be a journalist: To break a hard-hitting scoop like Woodward and Bernstein or perhaps have your The Devil Wears Prada moment and shake up fashion journalism. Unlike Anne Hathaway’s character, your road to success likely won’t begin by landing an ill-advised job at Vogue (despite having no aspirations or interest in the pub). Instead, journalists write pitches to get their ideas and writing published.

Let’s talk about what pitching is and isn’t :

A pitch is not: a love letter to the publication and the editor. We stan a fan girl. But in an inbox dumpster fire that is modern life (mine currently sits at 1,968), nobody has time to read your 10-page treatise on how much you love their funny, irreverent, sharply worded prose. Okay, so, get to the point.

A pitch is not: vague. This is not a social call. You’re not here to make friends or LinkedIn connections. Unless you have a pre-existing relationship with an editor, don’t send an email saying, “Hi, I’m looking for work”.

A pitch is not: your already completed article. There are many, many reasons why this is not a good idea (from the publication already having a similar piece written but not published yet to the editor not liking your angle), but as a rule, most editors don’t accept finished work. Save the work and wait for your idea to be accepted. Even if the publication greenlights the idea exactly as you propose it, maybe they will want a longer version, a shorter version.

A pitch is: a summary of your idea in one to two paragraphs. It explains your angle, why your story is relevant and timely, and why it fits the publication. Ideally, it should also explain why you are the right person to write the story. It gets right to the point.

A pitch: shows off your writing style. It can be playful, serious, quirky, and has song lyrics. Mine often do.

A pitch is submitted to the right editor. Find the publication’s masthead and the section editor. Send it to them. Spell their name correctly. I’m much less likely to answer an email sent to Alexandria.

A pitch is followed up on in 1-2 weeks. Most of my pitches aren’t read until I send a gentle nudge, hello, hi, remember me, just checking in, email.

That’s pitching! If you’re curious to learn more or want one-on-one help, I provide writing coaching. And if this email helped you, please share it with a friend. Have a great week!

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