@_Simply_Ri asked me a question that I get a lot, so I decided to dedicate this post to the people who often wonder, how the heck do you pitch an editor when you want to write for them.
There are no rules written in stone but from personal experience, there are some general techniques that seem to work all the time. Here’s what works for me.
1. Don’t take anything to heart because editors may take while to respond (8 times out of ten), especially if they work in web. They have a lot going on and in today’s wack economy and company structure, they’re most likely wearing several hats meant for extra bodies that will never get hired. So, give them about a week to get back to you. If you still don’t hear from them send one more check in e-mail or a Tweet nudge (if you have a rapport with them on Twitter) and be done with it. I’ve had editors respond a whole month after I’ve reached out, so you have to be patient but also not dwell on it and don’t take things personal.
The flipside to that is, some editors are just plain funny style. You have the jerks who won’t ever respond and sometimes, people who will tell you no at first because they don’t know you but reach out later as you develop your career elsewhere. It has all happened to me and I’m still learning how to let it slide. However, I still wish I had been warned before entering the game. It would have saved my sensitive soul some stress.
2. Don’t send your pitch without soliciting and getting approval to send it first. Once upon a time, when I was new to the game I cold pitched an editor at a magazine that I really liked. She told me that she didn’t like my pitch but that she would keep me in mind for assignments. About a month later, that same story idea ended up in the magazine under her byline, womp womp. Lesson learned. This brings me to the next tip…
3. When you reach out to an editor, keep it short and sweet. Introduce yourself, explain that you’re interested in the publication and state briefly what past work or interests you have that are relevant. Don’t send clips right away. Ask in your introduction if they’d be interested in seeing some of your past work. If they are, send about three to five links or article clips. If you have no clips, play up your interests and how that might translate to a good article. Don’t be afraid to inject your personality into your intro, especially if it’s a laid back type of publication. Be professional but don’t be too rigid unless it’s actually a business magazine.
4. Do your research. Make sure you know what types of stories the publication likes and who actually works there. This is easier now that we have the Internet. As someone who works as an editor, I can tell you it’s a pet peeve and it happens more than you might think like, people pitching River Dance to a hip-hop magazine–stuff like that.
5. Don’t give up. It’s hard but not impossible.
That’s all I got for now but feel free to ask more questions in my comments box.