In this second half of The Art and Science of the Perfect Magazine Pitch, we'll cover not only the proper length, hook and the power of your writing voice, but the most effective piece of pitching advice I've ever learned — how to never feel the sinking despair of rejection again. Bold promise, but trust me, you'll thank me for it.
Let's get to it.
Think Like a Minimalist
Keep your pitch concise. One of the biggest rookie mistakes is writing a long, flowery, narrative introduction. Another mistake is writing over a page and a half. Unless you have Jane Austin's command of words (and your editor lived in Victorian England in a past life), you'll want to keep it minimal — one and a half pages max.
Paint a Flawless Title Picture
Every pitch needs a hook, and this is what many writers don't understand. The subject line is the first and most powerful part of the hook, but it doesn't end there. The purpose of your first sentence is to get your editor to read the next, and the second sentence has the same responsibility; to get the editor to read the third. That's where the hook usually ends and you get into the substance of your pitch.
Pitch with Intestinal Fortitude
When you've crafted a masterpiece — and only then — send the pitch in. Before that critical moment, you should know that a good writer may spend hours on the perfect pitch. Some take days, allowing their research to incubate in the primordial darkness of their subconscious minds before tapping it out onto the screen. Regardless of how long it takes, this is the most important thing.
Write with blatant honestly and an unmatched boldness.
I'm not saying to try to sound like someone you're not — be yourself because it's your unique voice that'll win them over. But if your voice isn't delivered with confidence... well it's not really your voice at all is it? It's a watered down version of who you are, and no one likes anything watered down. If you sip from a glass of watered down wine you'll spit it out and glare at it for wasting your time — and that's exactly what your editor will do if you write without confidence.
Rid Yourself of Rejection
Now that you've written a masterpiece of a pitch, you send it and wait.
This is the worst part for most writers, but I have a method that'll make it the best.
As soon as I release the pitch into the great digital void — the pitch I've labored over for hours, researched, stalked, and pounded away at incessantly — I let it go.
Out of sight and mind I let it go; I've done my job and done it well and now it's time to move on to the next masterpiece. I may not be the best fit for them because every magazine, blog and journal has different needs; some of those needs are writers with a different style.
It's like marksmanship.
Every CRACK of the rifle should surprise you because you've allowed yourself to forget that this is the end result. The result in target practice is a smooth, steady and thus accurate squeeze of the trigger.
So I move on immediately to the next pitch, and if I get that wonderful response of acceptance, it's not a relief so much as it's a pleasant and joyous surprise, packed with the same adrenaline punch as the cracking shot of a rifle followed by the sweet smell of gunpowder.
It's an acquired taste, but that's the point.
Over time and practice, you'll be able to let your pitches go, like parents let go of their grown children. Once you've acquired that ability, the sting of rejection ceases to exist and your pitches are no longer a humble plea for work, but a powerful word painting of who you are and what you can do. It no longer matters whether or not they accept you, because you've accepted yourself.