Editors get a bad wrap. Sometimes it's justifiable. Other times, not so much.
An editor may see several hundred pitches a day. More if the target of a writer's affection is a big league player in main stream media. Not as many if the inquiry is sent to a mom-and-pop blog operating out of Des Moines.
Editors are notorious about not answering writer's probings. An author could go weeks, months or years and never get a response from an editor.
Are there any ‘magical formulas' to help a particular presentation stand out from the huddled masses of offerings and be ushered into the golden throne room of published?
Yes. I braved the wind, snow, and scorn to approach several editors to ask what every freelance writer is asking:
"How can I get you to accept my story?"
Here are some of the replies I received.
Have A Unique Story Which Educates
And not just a ‘unique story' but one that has been researched. The story can't be a piece already done hundreds of times from the same, or similar angle. Find something new — and don't make it a sales pitch.
"I prefer pitches that are not ‘sales-y,' says Esther Kiss, founder of Born to Influence. "If they aim to contribute value to our audience, as opposed to purely promote themselves, I'm always open to learning more."
The purpose of a pitch is, ultimately, to get your story published. If the pitch is vague, the editor may rightfully assume the article will be vague and into file 13 goes your excellent prose.
Elizabeth Adan of Toke Tank says "Clear details about the business and contact info" will get her attention.
"The pitch needs to be clear and concise — the elevator pitch idea. Get to the point," agrees Megan Close of Keller Media, Inc.
"Originality is important," adds Close. "We hear a lot of pitches each day, and anything which sets yourself apart is generally a good thing."
"Anything I hear today I've already heard before. A story that is presented uniquely and fresh is what I require," says Mike Shields II, Owner, Team 33 Productions. "If the pitcher can paint word pictures effectively then he's probably moved to the top of the pile."
Have an event coming up in six-months? Forget about the pitch. To succeed, the pitch must be timely.
Adan said, "A timely element, within the next two weeks, means we're more likely to write about an event."
To gauge the timeliness of a story pitch, look for the hook.
"The pitch should be about an upcoming event, a major holiday or a tie-in to a current news story and must demonstrate why it must be done right away," adds Katrina Cravy, owner of Katrina Cravy, Inc.
Providing sufficient information to determine timeless in the media pressure cooker is also key to getting a thumbs up from a harried editor.
"What I look for in pitches is relevance and enough information to work with under the pressure to continually create content," says Anna with Vontechnology.
A pitch must be relatable.
"What makes a pitch stand out?" says Jennifer Magas, Associate Professor at Pace University and a former NPR reporter. "The timing and whether you can relate your pitch to current events or a human interest story."
Engage the Editor
Roberta Perry, founder of ScrubzBody, says, "Give a little of what's inside the subject header and then give the best possible answer in the first few lines."
Another tip to engage the editor is to personalize the email. "The media can SMELL mass mailings," points out Cravy,
Research on the recipient cannot be overstated.
"Know who you are pitching. Do your research on the individual's you are speaking with and tailor your pitch," says Close.
Enthusiasm helps put the wind in the sales when engaging the editor.
"If you're not excited about what you're pitching, it's unlikely anyone else will be [either]," added Close.
To quickly engage the editor, "Put your main point in the subject line and opening sentence," says Jennifer Lee Magas. "Most editors don't have time to stick around for a surprise ending."
Make your pitch perfect by proofreading like an editor. Be sure the pitch is grammatically correct, punctuation is spotless, and you have attached any attachments you said you would include.
Make It Brief
Get too wordy, and your pitch will end up in the deleted file quicker than the editor can hit delete.
"Imagine writing your pitch on the back of a business card," shares Magas. "If it won't fit, it's too long."
Adam Hatch, staff writer for FreelanceWriting.com agrees. "Some pitches I get are near a thousand words long, at which point the author might as well just send me the piece," says Hatch. "Just tell me what you have and why it's worth my time. If it's solid, I will want it."
Jerry Nelson spends much of his time poking Trump’s meth-addled, uneducated fans with a pointy stick and is currently writing a book of muskrat recipes as well as a scrapbook of his favorite death threats. His life’s aspiration is to rule the world with an iron fist, or find that sock he’s been looking for. Feel free to email him at email@example.com if you have any questions or comments — or join the million (seriously) or so who follow him on Twitter @Journey_America. Never far from his Marlboro’s and coffee, Jerry is always interested in discussing future writing opportunities.