If you read a lot of pitches, as I do when I work with writers, the difference between the ones that sell and the ones that don’t often becomes abundantly clear.
Pitches that pique an editor’s interest and make them want to hear more from the writer, even if they don’t like that particular story idea, all have one thing in common: Personality.
Here are a few other things that make a difference:
Writers will often miss the chance to show that they’re fun and creative people even when they’re pitching service or trend stories that could use a bit of lightening up. Remember, editors are only human and we all like to work with people we actually like and enjoy being around.
If you don’t clearly know the angle, the purpose, and the gist of your story, how do you expect the editor to get it? The clarity in your pitch has to be both about the idea and the execution of that idea. Or simply, what do you want to say and how are you going to say it?
Introducing a sense of urgency in a pitch is a very good way to answer the question “why now?” that most editors will ask of any idea. By acknowledging this aspect of the piece in your pitch, you make the editor’s job infinitely easier because you’ve not only shown her why the story is important and would make good reading for her audience, but also why she has to commission and print it now.
Look, I’ll be straight with you. No editor is going to pay $1 a word to a writer who doesn’t know what she’s talking about. The reason an editor pays that kind of money is so that she can assign something, have it off her plate, get it in pretty near perfect, send it to her superior and accept all the accolades for having done a good job.
For most writers I’ve worked with, it happens approximately after the third (successful) pitch. Something just clicks, an instinct forms, and suddenly, they can see exactly what needs to be said and how. They no longer need to labor over every sentence and paragraph. They are easily able to send two, three, five pitches a week effortlessly.
But those first few pitches are difficult, and it takes writers months, sometimes years to write those successful pitches and understand what works.
Without feedback, all you have is trial and error. And sure, many of us have figured it out through just that. But it’s also a long process that limits your progress.
Which is why I’ve launched my newest program: Pitch Critiques.
I work with you on your pitches to make sure you have the feedback you need not only on what you can fix, but what you’re doing right, so that you, too, can form an instinct around what works and the kind of stories editors are excited to buy.
(2 places gone, 10 places left.)