How to Pitch an Editor, Not Piss Her Off: 5 DON’Ts

NOThis spring I’m teaching a couple of sessions of “How to Pitch an Editor, Not Piss Her Off” and thought I’d put some top-line pitching advice here, in case you won’t be at the super fab conferences for the whole shebang.

But for now … 5 DON’Ts when pitching an editor:

1. Don’t address me as “Dear XXX” in your pitch. Or, worse, please for the love of all correctly placed semicolons, don’t address me as “Dear Tracy.” God, no. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against the name Tracy — perfectly nice name. It’s just that my name is Natalie. I do, however, have something against the name “XXX” (those were college days, OK? Seriously. I’m a mother now).

2. Don’t expect me to do your work. Please don’t send me an email that says, “I’d LOVE to write for ParentMap. I really love your publication. Do you have any openings?” If you pitch me, pitch me. What do you want to write about? What’s your idea? What’s the blog you want to share/sell? What content brilliance do you have for back-to-school/autism awareness/St. Patrick’s Day cocktail hour innovations? I get hundreds of pitches a week, from hundreds of writers and marketers. I might only connect with you electronically for 11 seconds. What do you want me to know?

3. Don’t, forget where commas go and other punctuation, and rules’ for writing and stuf like that. M’okay?

4. Don’t be clueless about the publication, site or blog you are pitching to. A good pitch and subsequent relationship is like a good marriage. You need to do your homework and find out what type of site this is, and whether your voice and product is a good match. It’s like this: If my site is a boxer brief, and you are into tightie whities — it’s possible we’re not going to get along. Peek around a bit first, open up the drawers, see what’s there. And please, please, get the name of the publication right. Half the pitches that come to me are for submissions to “Parent Map.” But I am the editor at “ParentMap.” One word — see that? Would you go on a second date with a guy who gets your name wrong? Ewww.

5. Don’t forget what it is you have that is special. A writer friend of mine calls it the special club. What special clubs do you belong to? Maybe you love to blog about food and are a shark at photographing your homemade, heart-shaped, Bento-boxed, hand-cranked-peanut-butter-and-lingonberry-jelly sammies. Maybe you write with grace and wit and humility about navigating both motherhood and sobriety. Maybe you live with your cowboy husband and impossibly gorgeous homeschooled children in a 22-foot renovated Airstream in the middle of big, beautiful nowhere. Whatever it is you have, don’t forget it. Your special club is your key.

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