by: Carol Bryant
A pitch letter to a magazine editor or website manager is very similar to a blog post. It’s called a “letter” for a reason – it is a letter. It’s a letter personally written to individual journalists, writers, or editors (and more recently website owners and bloggers) that shares a specific story idea with the express hope of media coverage. Pitch letters are also called query letters.
In addition to calling attention to your blog, which can increase traffic to help you monetize, a successful pitch can mean add notoriety in a positive, purposeful way (i.e., establishing yourself as an expert). Here are some do's and dont's for pitching traditional print magazines:
- Be concise, make every word count
- Look outside your genre for magazines you might not have considered for pet market (i.e. women’s magazines)
- Follow up as directed in the query directions. Wait for a reply, don’t pester.
- Ideas should be unique and fresh
- State that clips are available or provide links to online clips
- Follow submission guidelines
- Keep tabs of who you pitched: when, what and why (spreadsheet)
- Include an appropriate subject header that grabs attention
- Thank people if you hear back, whether it’s a yes or a no
- Name drop if you have been referred by someone there
- Be able to sum up the angle of your pitch in one sentence; the actual pitch is longer.
- Think of deks that magazines put under headlines: what is yours?
- If you feel you need to follow up with an email, since your story is time sensitive, do so with original piece pasted below it. Editors will not remember your pitch, especially with the high volume of mail they receive.
- A good way to start a follow up e-mail query is: “I know you are busy, but I wanted to be sure you’ve received this and if it is a fit for ___ magazine.”
- An angle is something you read and think “ooooh, I never thought of it that way or heard of that before.” What is your angle?
- If you cannot write your own dek, it probably means your idea is too vague.
- Do let go if you hear nothing after 2 followup queries. Move on and don’t stalk people.
- Never say” “I expect to hear back from you…” Don’t be pushy.
- Don’t follow up constantly; be patient.
- Don’t send your query without proofreading: Big NO!
- Don’t use HTML formatting that may not show up correctly in email.
- Don’t use emoticons and slang.
- Don’t send from an email that is cutesy or personal. Hotmail and AOL can send the wrong message. Use a gmail or personal email. ( i.e. email@example.com <<< not a real address) )
- Don’t send clips as attachments or graphics. (many places will accept a link to a web page with all clips listed… should you say that? Yv)
- Don’t send the same pitch to a variety of magazines.
- Don’t start the letter with “Dear Editor” or “Dear Sir or Madam” – find the correct contact. Call the magazine if you need to!
- Don’t sit and wait for a reply – begin working on your next pitch.
- Don’t give up if your pitch gets rejected or if you hear nothing. Recraft, rewrite, repurpose.
- Do pitch to an unfamiliar magazine.
- The way you write your pitch is a reflection of the way you’ll write your article. That’s how editors perceive it. Don’t bore them, but remain professional.
Where: The Sheraton Premier; Tysons Corner, VA
When: May 16 – 18, 2013Registration: http://registration.blogpaws.com/