If you're new to writing, or even if you've been published online, the best thing you can do as a writer is work on your writing.
Sounds obvious, I know.
But when you work on improving your writing, you'll not only continue to get better and better with stronger writing, you're also more likely to be published consistently and it's easier to make writing a regular practice.
That said—if you're making mistakes in your pitch email, the best writing in the world might not get your foot in the door at an online publication you'd like to add to your portfolio. I've seen many pitching errors as an editor, so I wanted to share a few of the most common with you—and let you know how to avoid them.
Getting Names Wrong
In my opinion, it's totally okay if you don't know the editor's name when you're pitching. But it's not so great when you get their name wrong. I don't know how many times I've receive a pitch that opens with "Hi Jennifer!" (Or some other 80s child name the gals of my generation know well). It doesn't really annoy me, but at the same time, I feel like you're just sending out a mass pitch and have no interest in this publication specifically.
If you're going to write up a form letter for your pitches, it's also totally okay. But check and check and check again before sending it to make sure you have the right editor's name and publication name. (I've also had people pitch to me with the wrong publication name in their email).
Just do your best to review it over and over again before pressing send.
More and more, people are craving relationships with other human beings—and personality is key to successful businesses. Think of yourself as a business. You're a writer who's trying to get published, but you're also a person. I like to know a little bit about who you are.
Obviously you want to be professional and keep it short and concise, but showing a bit of your human side and a touch of personality is always a great way to show off who you are.
Remember that your pitch is like a first impression, and it's the first writing sample of yours that the editor you're pitching will read. Try to write the pitch with the same tone and voice you would use to write the story.
Most pubs will tell you in their submission guidelines how long it takes for them to respond to pitches. If you've pitched and haven't heard back within that time frame, it's a great idea to follow up with another email. I've had some pitches come in and I mean to get back to them or read them over again, but before I know it, the email is buried in my inbox and I forget.
I will always welcome a follow up email. If you're not doing it, you should give it a go. Editors often just need a little reminder.
Not Giving Enough Detail
I strongly recommend against sending a pitch email where you just ask to write for the publication, but don't include an actual pitch. (I did this in the past and the editor in me now cringes!)
The reason is, you want to grab the editor's attention. But if you're giving them nothing to look at, it's making them work harder than they likely have time for. Any time I see a pitch where someone says they would like to write for us but don't include links to writing samples or include an idea for an article, I usually don't end up finding the time to respond. (I hate doing that since I'm a writer, too! But I just can't respond to all the emails all the time...)
Be sure to include an idea in your pitch and make sure you have links to previously published work.
Also, always remember to give your pitch a headline, and include a couple of paragraphs telling why your story is right for that publication.
That's just some of my advice. For more inspiration and encouragement, sign up for my email and I'll send you weekly tips, advice and more. I promise there's more good stuff to come! Sign Up Now