Would you like to write for big, national magazines, or high-traffic websites?
All you have to do is impress an editor.
It’s not always easy to do. Most editors I know get a hundred or more pitches every week.
But there are a few ways to cut through the clutter and stand out:
Schmooze power. I’ve met editors in person at networking events and pitched them ideas on the fly. Which is why you should always have a lot of them up your sleeve.
Hang out with them. I’ve heard great things about the weekend events the Journalism and Women Symposium holds, for instance — I gather editors from the big magazines go.
Connect on social media. With a simple reachout on Twitter or LinkedIn — I like “Are you the correct editor to query about X topic?” — you might catch their eye. Then you can follow up with some story ideas.
Smile and dial. I have one mentoring student who gets all his assignments from talking to editors on the phone. If you can get through the voicemail and snag an editor live on the phone, and you’ve got that gift of gab and story ideas at the ready, this can work. The advantage here is if they don’t like your first idea, you can quickly pitch another — or ask about what types of stories they’re looking for right now.
Query letter. This is still the golden ticket of editor-reachout methods, in my view. A well-written query that spotlights a fresh idea that’s a perfect fit for a publication’s readership will get you in the door every time. You don’t need connections, a lot of clips — just that sparkly, fine idea.
If you’re not getting responses, learn more about how to write a strong query. My experience having reviewed many writers’ pitches is that most queries are pretty weak. Here are a few links to help you with that:
- How One Query Letter Got $6,000 in Assignments
- If at First Your Query Letter Doesn’t Succeed
- How Writers Can Send Query Letters Without Facing Rejection
- Query Don’ts
- Why Editors Don’t Respond to Your Query
- Nothing helps like seeing query letters that worked…you can grab 10 of them from Linda Formichelli, or take a look at the ones we have in the Resource Library in Freelance Writers Den.
Letter of introduction. For trade publications, magazine inserts and other markets where it’s hard to tell what articles they might need, a strong LOI is your ticket. My quick LOI tips:
- Speak their language. Absorb the tone of their publication and write your LOI in that exact tone.
- Do your research. Learn something about this market that you can mention.
- Get a referral. Obviously, this won’t be possible every time, but a referral will greatly up your odds of success.
- Stress your expertise. Why are you the absolute best writer for them to work with? Share your experience with them.
- End with a call to action. A good one is “May I send you some clips?”
No matter what approach you take, know that getting editors’ attention takes time. It’s a numbers game — send more LOIs and queries, and you’re more likely to get results.
If you’re not getting results, get some feedback on that query or LOI and make it better.
Need feedback on your query or LOI? I give a lot of tips in here…