Whether you're dreaming of being published by a national magazine or honing your ability to entice the deep-pocketed clients in your small-business backyard, your pitch is absolutely vital.
It's either your Zeus lightning bolt or your Achilles heel — there's no in-between.
The writer's pitch is the most powerful instrument because it's the key to the gateway between you and the job.
The gatekeeper is the magazine editor, you are the fearless adventurer, and the pitch is your key.
This is how you can make sure that key will fit:
Hemingway swears that "there is no friend as loyal as a book", and Stephen King says simply "read a lot, write a lot". Their advice to us is summarized by Richard Steel, who says, "reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body." You wouldn't walk into the ring without training first, so why would you pitch without flexing the muscles of your mind, by reading on the subject?
Every successful writer you know will tell you the same thing and it's true every time. If you want to write a truly great pitch, write a lot of them. Don't write your first pitches to the big clients — start where it doesn't matter. Odesk and Elance are two rotting dung heaps crawling with beady-eyed Scrooges who won't (or can't) pay nearly what you're worth. But the most dismal places make the greatest training grounds. Pitch there every day. Don't expect great clients — even though you may find one or two — but do it for the training.
Become a Stalker
Don't turn your nose up at stalking your prospects. Call it surveillance or the gathering of intel if it makes you feel better. But in the end, it's all one and the same. You need information about the magazine, journal, blog, website and/or company you're pitching to. And don't forget your gatekeeper. Your editor is a powerhouse and should be respected as such. If you don't know as much about your editor as you do about the magazine, don't pitch until you do.
Know the Guidelines
Just about ever magazine has guidelines. If you can't find them, don't worry about it because not all do. It really depends on the level you're at. When you start pitching to your high-end prospects you'll need to do your research. Writer's Market 2014 (or whatever the current year happens to be) is the best tool on available.
Tread lightly here, but honest flattery goes a long ways with any human being. If you have nothing to flatter with, don't flap your lips needlessly — lies won't get you anywhere. They're disrespectful and your editor will see through them.
That's all for this half; be sure not to miss out on the better half of The Art and Science of the Perfect Magazine Pitch — Part 2. That's where I cover the most essential piece of pitching advice I've ever learned — how to rid yourself of pitch rejection. Completely. Not to mention three other vital points, including the proper pitch length, your hook and how to hone the power of your writing voice.
Photo by Leonardo da Vinci and butlavabrva.sk: Image Source