LaToya "Toi" Cross is an experienced storyteller and editor. Today, Toi shares some valuable insight for writers on preparing your pitches for editors.
It’s not an easy task, but it’s a necessary one. We’re in such a creative space of socio-politics, activism and innovation, and honestly, who doesn’t want to get their message or product out to the masses. For the writer who has the vision but not-so-much the tools needed to see it soar into fruition, don’t trip. That’s where I come in. In this quick guide, I’ll break down the steps to follow when pitching an editor. Who am I to tell you the moves? Let’s just say I have a bit of experience in this area.
Having to sell your idea in a sweet, concise letter to an editor is hella nerve wrecking but if you’re about good results, you better get to putting in that action. Here are a few key notes when initiating dialogue with an editor.
Editors are always looking for fresh voices and refreshing perspectives. There are a million ideas floating out there, choose one (*insert Swizz Beatz voice “On to the next one”) or three or however many and tweak that bad boy with your unique approach. Think about what will make your angle different. Do some digging around your topic and jot down what will make your stance/interview pop.
Dig Deeper: Think visually too! Since the digital space is dominating, what multimedia elements could further illustrate your story?
If you’re introducing something totally new, be sure that it matches the tone and readership of the publication you’re looking to pitch. Which brings us to point dos.
.@TeenVogue IS LOOKING FOR FRESH VOICES TO FEATURE AS FREELANCE WRITERS. Pls send pitches+writing samples to Melanie_Mignucci@condenast.com
— Elaine Welteroth (@ElaineWelteroth) May 6, 2017
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Know the publication. As a former writer and editor of a national publication with a very direct demographic, you’d be surprised at how many pitches I received that failed to identify with the core of our content focus and audience. Your pitch should align with the culture of the publication, so this is where research comes into play. It is important to know the pub’s tone, nature of their content, and core readership base.
Dig Deeper: A good way to uncode the outlet’s magic, is tapping into the platform’s social media pages. How do they connect with readers and convey messaging? What kind of conversations are being stirred in their comment sections? Does feedback differ on specific accounts - i.e. Are voices on their IG more laid-back than readers’ opinions on their FaceBook or Twitter account?
Read the website and/or magazine. Go beyond the homepage and study the topics being covered and how they are covered, not only to learn their style, but to also make sure you’re not pitching an idea or individual (celebrity, public figure etc.) that was recently featured. Remember the key word here is 'fresh' -- a refreshing perspective.
Don’t be lazy. If you’re pitching your story to multiple publications, addressing the WRONG one in your email is an ultimate no-no. Yes, this has happened numerous times and the pitch or note gets dismissed quickly. This not only shows that your “copy and paste” game is weak, it shows that you didn’t take the time to personalize your message to properly fit the media outlet. Therefore, any authenticity that may have initially existed, has taken flight. This also goes for spelling and grammar within your email. Misspelling someone’s name, may come as human error, but that’s another reason as to why you can’t bypass proofreading your copy before hitting that “send” button. If you don’t care about the presentation of your work, then why should anyone else?
Ok, so you’ve done the pre-game work. Now, it’s time to put it all together and curate a bomb and creative pitch letter. Keep it detailed, but brief. Offer a brief introduction stating who you are and why you’re reaching out to the publication and specific editor . Be sure that the focus of your piece is clear. And don’t shy away from showing some personality.
Dig Deeper: Tone plays heavy in the email-chain, so make sure that you’re exuding the right energy and your article idea is mapped out: potential sources; if it’s an op-Ed, be sure your argument/perspective is clear.
Also, provide links to previous work. If you’re just entering the writing field and have no clips to share, I’d suggest sharing a creative writing piece or providing a sample intro to the idea you’re pitching.
Happy pitching! It’s a hustle, but it pays to dream proactively.
LaToya "Toi" Cross is an experienced storyteller and editor who produces content to share, learn & analyze the creative, social & psychological world that surround us all. Keep up with her on Instagram and Twitter.