Pitching Your Story

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.

newspaperIn preparing your pitch you might consider the following questions:

  • 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:

  •  Topic:

 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?

  •  Knowledge:

 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   Voice

 o   Tone

 o   Point of view

 o   Narrative distance

 o   Themes

 o   Plot: opening, development, climax, wrap up, end

 o   Structure

 o   Character development

 o   Setting

o   Dialogue, quotes

 o   Foreshadowing

  •  Audience:

 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?

  •  Market:

 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




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