By Ken Powell –
Hope’s FFW is a great newsletter and completely deserves its reputation as a great resource for writers. The newsletter is one of a handful. In every edition there is at least one publication I think “I like the sound of that – I’ll send them an LOI or a pitch!”
But there’s a problem, a catch-22 if you like: Hope’s newsletter is way too popular! When I first subscribed to FFW as soon as I’d read it I would start researching the publications – check out their style, recent articles etc. But my pitches usually bombed even though I had a really good rate of acceptance from other publications I’d researched. The penny dropped when I noticed one publication I’d just read about in FFW had “closed their doors for submission due to a sudden increase in pitches” before I got further than the research. Of course! We were all pitching the same editors at the same time.
As soon as I clicked on to this, I changed my approach not just with FFW but with all the newsletters I receive which list magazine submission details. Suddenly my rate of success with these editors vastly improved. I use a staggered approach now. Here’s what I do:
1) I read FFW as soon as it appears in my inbox but only for the Editor’s Thoughts and the Featured Article. It’s always good to get new ideas and encouragement.
2) I look at time-sensitive notices like competitions. I admit these are low priority for me as I’m too busy with non-fiction work to do much story writing. I also ignore grants because not many of them apply to the UK where I live.
3) This is the important bit: I file FFW newsletter in a special email folder and ignore it for about six months. That way, if there’s a flurry of pitches from eager writers, I miss the crush. These publications have usually been around for a while, so there’s no rush! I have a stack of about two years of FFWs and other newsletters ready to use now.
4) I then pick an FFW from the back catalog and choose publications to pitch. The choice can be random – might be from six months earlier, or four months, or even a year. It really doesn’t matter as long as it’s old.
It’s almost stupidly simple but what a difference this has made to the acceptances I’ve seen! Now I have a level playing field to pitch to rather than trying to shout to be heard after the sudden interest has died down. I’ve found that if you’re good enough you won’t ‘miss the boat’. As long as the publications keep running, they’ll always need new articles.
For instance, just recently I pitched a piece to Little India – the largest overseas Indian magazine in the world – which Hope wrote about at the end of May last year. Despite being a big publication, I heard back from them within 24 hours accepting my pitch and the article was published in April this year. I’m quite certain that had I pitched the editor back in May I probably wouldn’t have heard from him at all. Sometimes, it seems, the last shall be first.
Ken Powell is a British freelance writer specializing in Asian society, travel and education but writes whatever is needed to put food on the table. When he’s not writing, he’s looking after a wife, two kids and a half-crazed puppy.