Frequently I receive emails from prospective writers asking what I seek for FundsforWriters. Some go as far as to ask what I pay, how I pay, and how quickly I pay without so much as a hint to what they propose to write. While I know cultures change from country to country, even state to state, the fact is it’s rather presumptuous to ask how you’re going to get paid before you demonstrate you’re a writer.
If you wish to pitch a magazine, website, newsletter, anthology or prospective client, please do the following first:
1) Read up all you can on the entity before you make a connection. If it’s a magazine, study the ads, the old articles, and the masthead to see how many articles are usually written in-staff versus freelance. And if they have guidelines, by all means read them several times.
2) Have a website or blog that demonstrates who you are and what you are capable of doing.
3) Know what you’d like to pitch to the publication after understanding what they need.
When you pitch, do NOT say the following:
1) You are a new writer seeking to break in.
2) You want to know how and when you’ll get paid.
3) You want the editor to tell you what to write.
4) You cannot find the guidelines.
5) You are retired, a student, a stay-at-home mom, disabled, a PhD candidate, etc. unless that has everything to do with what you are pitching. It’s all about the article and your experience in writing THAT article, not your life’s history or ID.
When you pitch, the editor absolutely wants the following:
1) A memo to them personally, not “the team,” or “the editor,” or “to whom it may concern.”
2) A pitch for a story that matches the publication perfectly.
3) Enough bio to show you are THE person to write the story.
4) Link(s) to your online presence.
5) Smart writing in the pitch to match the smart writing in the proposed article, not a dry “here you go.”
You are submitting in hopes that your brilliance and creative talent are suitable enough for the publication to hire you. But you have to realize they don’t know who you are. When you approach them without respect, without reading the guidelines, without knowledge about what the entity is and who their readers are, you are begging for rejection.
Definitely what NOT to do (taken from a real submission attempt without alteration of how it was spelled or worded):
WANNABE: Hi, I would like to be part of your community as a freelancer writer. please send me details
HOPE: They are all on the website. (My signature block has the website.)
WANNABE: Can you please share the link?
HOPE: So, you have not been to the website www.fundsforwriters.com? A writer does not contact an editor until they have studied the site and determined what the publication is in need of.
WANNABE: i visited it, but couldnt find the place
HOPE: www.fundsforwriters.com/submissions – You click on it at the top of every page on the website.
And…no, this person did not land the gig.