In baseball, you get three strikes before you’re out of the ‘ole ballgame. During those three pitches, the pitcher must make sure his form and technique are as accurate as possible in order to get the player to strike out.
Fortunately (and unfortunately), freelance writers get more than three pitches, which means our opportunities are endless. However, constantly pitching stories may make those opportunities seem very limited, like you’re out of the game. 9 times out of 10, you’re pitch won’t grab the attention of an editor, a publishing company, or even your boss.
So what makes a successful pitch? How do you get them to notice you? Two weeks ago the editor in chief, Hrag Vartanian and senior editor, Jillian Steinhauer of Hyperallergic came to speak to my journalism class, during which time Steinhauer gave tips on how to write successful pitches.
She narrowed it down to three main points:
- Be short and concise.
- Present your ideas.
- Provide links to pieces you have already written.
Steinhauer said that she doesn’t even skim pitches that are too long. You need to be as clear as possible with as few words as possible when explaining your ideas for stories. This will show that you are capable of writing a story in the same manner and that you know how to pick and choose which information is most pertinent. Lastly, make sure to provide links to pieces you have already written so the person you are e-mailing can get a sense of your writing style and see what kind of experience you have writing about certain topics.
One of my favorite websites, The Renegade Writer, has a great post on pitches called 5 Ways to Fake Confidence in Your Article Pitch. Not only will this post teach you how to be me confident in general it will also help you to make sure your pitch doesn’t “dangle off the loser board.”