Last week, Garance Franke-Ruta had a succinct and valuable piece in The Atlantic, “How (Not) to Pitch.”
It’s exactly what it sounds like, and as a senior editor at the publication, Garance has great gems to share with freelance writers. She talks about overseas assignments, stories versus topics, contact information, following up, and more. Here’s an abridged version:
1. Contact an editor before you go overseas so you can pitch from the scene.
2. Don’t write to ask if you can pitch–just write with a pitch or ask to be put in touch with the appropriate editor.
3. Pitch stories, not topics.
4. Send your pitch in the body of an email, not as an attachment, for faster reading.
5. Be careful of using texts or direct messages to send pitches to editors, unless you know them very well.
6. Editors like to work with a query rather than a pre-written story, so work with them on developing your idea.
7. If you do send a fully written story, make sure it’s not a rough draft.
8. Fact check!
9. Don’t forget to include your phone number in the pitch email.
10. It’s okay to send a follow-up email in a couple days if you don’t hear back about a pitch.
11. Ask for a response within a set period if the story is time sensitive.
12. If sending your pitch to multiple outlets, let all of the editors know.
13. Rejections aren’t personal.
14. Include one sentence to one graf about yourself if the editor doesn’t know you.
15. If you want something long, like a book excerpt, considered, send it with the original pitch or have it ready to go in case the editor wants to read it immediately.
16. Lock down your primary source before sending in the pitch.
17. Find out what the publication/editor’s policy is regarding cross-posting to a personal blog.
The full story is here.