7 Pitching Mistakes You Might Be Making

Pitching is probably the most difficult part of writing. The actual writing and editing gets easy after a while, given you actually enjoy writing even a little bit. But pitching remains difficult, whether you're pitching editors you've worked with before or pitching someone new for the first time. It's not easy coming up with ideas that a) you like, b) you think the editor will like, c) you think work for the magazine/website/publication, and d) you think people would want to read.

There are plenty of articles out there for every kind of writer, so I strongly encourage you to do some Google searches on pitching, particularly because there are writers and editors much more experienced than I am who can give you juicy insider tips. I've only been on the writing end of things, unless you count editing for a college newspaper. But I've found decent success with pitching, through research, consistency, discipline, and a drop of courage.

The best way to get your pitches ignored or rejected is never to send them at all. I know it's scary and intimidating, especially if you're invested in the publications your pitching. However, pitching is something you can get better at. I can't promise you that your pitches will get accepted after reading this, but I can promise that your pitches will be neater and more organized (if you put in the work).

1. Your pitch has typos

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You'd think this would be the easiest mistake to avoid, but apparently, it's not. If the struggle is that serious, copy and paste your pitch into a word processor and check the grammar and spelling. A typo is a surefire way to make sure your pitch gets ignored or rejected, because if you can't write a clean email why should they expect that you can write clean copy?

2. You emailed the wrong editor

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If you want to write for the Wellness section of a publication, your best bet is to email the editor that oversees that section specifically. You don't start at the top rung and work your way down. That means you shouldn't be emailing the editor in chief, the managing editor, or the editorial director unless they say that they're open to pitches.

3. Your introduction is weak

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A pitch is about more than a good idea, it's about convincing an editor that you're not only capable of writing it, but also that you're well-suited for it. If an editor has never seen your writing before, a pitch is a small way for them to see your style, so if your introduction is bland they likely won't consider you. Think of a pitch as a story and succinct résumé.

A pro-tip is to have someone you know read your introduction.

4. Your pitch is too long

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Your pitch should be no more than three paragraphs, including the introduction and conclusion. That means, your idea should be neatly summarized in one paragraph. Editors don't have time to read essays. Introduce yourself, sell your idea, and politely wrap it up. The more concise your pitch is, the more likely it is to be read.

5. Your pitch is vague

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Don't pitch an editor something general, like "I want to talk about how the Olympics are racist," or "I want to talk about how Kanye West is overrated." Both are general ideas that have already been discussed. Ask yourself, what can I bring to the conversation(s). And if you're still unsure, ask yourself what sort of position on the issue might work well for the publication you're pitching. Whatever you do, just have an actual angle or story to tell.

6. Your email is too casual

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It's OK to be friendly and lighthearted while you're pitching an editor. However, don't be like, "Hey, I had this awesome idea for something I could cover for X website. What do you think?" Make sure you're putting in the work and treating this like the business that it is. Respect professional boundaries and don't get personal unless you and your editor have built a decent working relationship.

7. You pitched them something they already covered

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Big mistake. It shows them that you don't read their publication and that you're kind of lazy, neither of which make it likely that they'll want to accept pitches from you. At the very least, go to their website and search up terms related to your idea.

Image: Simon Hattinga Verschure/Unsplash, Giphy (7)