To gain work from magazines and newspapers, whether you are looking to write a feature article, profile, essay, review, travel piece, or any piece really, first you need to win the publication over with your idea – you need to pitch your story.
- Why this topic?
- What will your angle be?
- What do you already know?
- What narrative style would best suit the piece?
- What makes this topic of interest to others?
- Who is your reader and market?
Brainstorm your ideas, using a mind map and grouping your ideas:
o Why are you interested in this topic?
o What makes this subject so topical at the moment?
o Why would this topic be of interest to others?
o Do you have a question you want answering that could become your focus question?
o What possible angles could be explored?
o Which angle will you take?
o What do you already know about the topic?
o What do you still need to find out?
o Which information is the most important? (You will need more information than you will use.)
o Which information adds a new or broader perspective on the topic?
o Where and how can you find this information? (Books, journals, family members, interviews, surveys, online, locational, etc. You should use more than one source.)
- Narrative tools and literary techniques:
o Style: you will need to writing in keeping with the style of the particular magazine or newspaper you are pitching to
o Point of view
o Narrative distance
o Plot: opening, development, climax, wrap up, end
o Character development
o Dialogue, quotes
o Think demographics and interest areas.
o Who would be interested in reading about this topic? Why?
o Which publications would this piece best suit? Why?
o Who are the readers of the publication you are interested in?
o Which magazines and newspapers would be interested in your topic?
o Have they published anything similar in the last 12 months?
o What is the average word count for similar types of pieces?
o What is their rule with numbers (10, ten, X)?
o What is their rule with names (first names, last names)?
A story pitch should include:
- A working title
- An outline of the topic and your particular angle
- A synopsis of your piece
- An outline of the research to be conducted
- An outline of the target readership
Once you have a pitch proposal ready to go and a perfect publication selected, contact the editor:
- Do not send a generic email.
- Introduce yourself: what else you’ve written, why you ‘fit’ with their publication.
- Show some knowledge of the publication.
- Write your pitch the way you intend writing your story: lead, headings, structure (max: 350 words).
- If you have more ideas for other stories, it is worth mentioning these too.
- Offer links to any of your previous publications.
- Sign off politely.
So, what are you waiting for…GET PITCHING!
Photo credit: Newspaper