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Pitching to a magazine

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Inky_Wretch, Dec 2, 2009.

  1. Inky_Wretch

    Inky_Wretch Well-Known Member

    Inspired by JayFarrar's McSweeney's story, I've decided to give freelancing a shot.

    I've got a story idea that would work in some outdoors magazines. But I'm not sure of how to pitch it. Do you write a few graphs detailing the event and why you think it'd be a good story?

    Hell, I'm not even sure when to pitch it. The 2010 event isn't until September, so should I bring it up now or wait a bit?
  2. playthrough

    playthrough Moderator Staff Member

    You've got the right idea on the pitch. Write a few kick-ass graphs to pull them in, then tell them why it would be a good story for their readers and why you are the best person to write it. Make sure you know the magazines you're pitching to; many have online guides for freelance submissions. If they say they only buy 500-word short pieces, take them at their word.

    As for timing, I'd say now is good. Hard to ever go too early.
  3. Precious Roy

    Precious Roy Active Member

    I was wondering about this stuff too. I have access to a former NBA superstar that fell apart and is now making his comeback as a coach. A move was even made about him, but nothing about what he's doing these days.
    I want to pitch this to a major magazine, but how do I go about doing it? Do I need the whole story ready to go or should I pitch the idea first?
  4. golfnut8924

    golfnut8924 Guest

    Anybody who wants to try their hand at freelancing for magazines needs to purchase the Writer's Market. There is a book version which they print every year with updates and there is also an online version which can be purchased at www.writersmarket.com. I have both. If you buy the book (can't recall the price, not too expensive) you get a discount on the online version at $40 a year.

    Basically, it's a collection of all the magazines, newspapers, book publishers, etc. who accept freelance stuff. For each publication, it lists their submission guidelines, how much they pay, what type of stories they're looking for, how often they use freelancers, their contact information, etc. It is EXTREMELY helpful. And for only $40, you will pay for it with one assignment easily.

    I bought the book at a Barnes & Noble. Most bookstores carry them. I know Borders has them. The book has 3,500 listings and the online version has even more. Both versions are categorized by subject, so you could look up all the outdoors magazines and view everything you need to know about them in terms of submitting stuff.

    Highly recommended for anyone trying to freelance magazines.
  5. cyclingwriter

    cyclingwriter Active Member

    I usually set up magazines with my fastball and then finish them with my curve. Seriously, writer's market will answer all of your questions and then some.
  6. JayFarrar

    JayFarrar Well-Known Member

    Thanks Inky, it is done, BTW, about 5,700 words and I'm super pumped.

    Anyhoo, in my case, I just got a lucky. I was familiar with the pub, knew that it would fit their market and threw it out. I've grown used to rejection. So I wasn't counting on it.

    When they said yes, I was over the moon.

    I think the keys are getting it in front of the right person, having a working story idea and experience as a writer. Having a package of clips ready isn't horrible either. I don't think I'd have the story ready, just a few grafs of your idea.

    Not like I'm sort of expert now, just lucky.
  7. ringer

    ringer Member

    Study the magazine you want to pitch so you have a good handle on its audience, its style, and the section it would fit. Call to find out who edits that section. Write him/her a concise, compelling pitch and be sure to follow up in about a week (since you're way ahead on the timing).

    If it's a really great idea, you might get more than one yes. Have a plan in case that happens. Or -- to cut down on stress -- pitch your first-choice magazine first and go from there.

    Consulting "Writers' Market" (as suggested above) is also a good idea -- it might include a few places you hadn't considered pitching.

    Good luck!
  8. buckweaver

    buckweaver Active Member

    Be careful about "double-dipping," though. Some magazines HATE that.

    I once sent out a pitch (unsolicited) to a magazine I liked, never heard back. No response at all. Sent a pitch to a separate magazine about a month afterward, that I figured would definitely take it. It did. Later that year, the article was published.

    Got a scathing e-mail back from the first editor, about 10-12 months after I sent him my pitch and a month after my story was published. He blasted me for my "poor form" and lack of professionalism, saying that I must be new at this. Said they wouldn't accept a piece that was submitted elsewhere. I bit my tongue, but did write him back a short note to say that I assumed he had no interest after I didn't hear back for, you know, about 10 months.
  9. cyclingwriter

    cyclingwriter Active Member

  10. golfnut8924

    golfnut8924 Guest

    That's a BS move by that editor. They were in the wrong.

    It's incredible how long some of them take to get back to you. Always keep track of what stories you pitched where and on what dates you did it. It's not uncommon to wait several months for a response.

    Each magazine has its own policy regarding first or second rights, or "double-dipping." Some places don't care if it's already been published. Some don't care if it's published somewhere else later as long as they're the first to run it. Some buy exclusive rights which means you can't publish it elsewhere (for a certain amount of time usually). Writers Market lists each publication's policy regarding this.

    I had one story that was published in two magazines at once. Same story word-for-word. Both magazines were aware of it. Both were fine with it. Got two paychecks for the price of one.

    And learn to accept rejection. If you pitch 20 stories and get 1 single yes, consider it a success.
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