I’ve just been made editor of a new publication, and that has involved inviting pitches from writers.

It’s an exciting new role.

I’ve had some wonderful features suggested and now delivered or well under way by some fabulous writers.

But I’ve also had some stinkers.

The number one thing that shines out of the ones that have missed the mark has been a sense of entitlement – with would-be contributors telling me I should commission them because they’re blinking marvellous – and readers are absolutely bound to want to read their suggested piece.

That’s never going to work with me, I need someone who shows they understand how these things work – to succinctly outline an idea, with a timely ‘hook’ and brief information about them that proves to me they’re a safe pair of hands. When outlining a pitch to an editor, you need to say what ‘could’ work and how elements of your feature would fit together, showing you understand what’s needed. Asking yourself ‘so what?’ And ‘why is this idea interesting right now?’ are useful steps to take before pitching – not declaring you’re ‘perfect.’

This is also an instance where a solid grasp of grammar can be a real boost – send me a pitch that demonstrates repeated misuse of apostrophes and I’m not going to be keen on commissioning you. Combine said howlers with the ‘I’m brilliant, me’ approach and it’s an all-round disaster. 🤦🏻‍♀️

Also, please don’t hassle me too much, after receiving dozens of pitches in a day, with a substantial on-going workload, I got back to as many people as I could, as quickly as I could. A mardy or over insistent ‘why haven’t you replied?’ isn’t going to improve the chances of me asking you to contribute.

It’s over a decade since my books on this subject were published or that I ran workshops for wannabe freelance writers – so quickly sharing these tips based on recent experience is taking me right back.

To all the fantastic writers who have sent me compelling pitches or I’ve approached to write for the new publication — because I know I can trust them to brilliantly contribute — a big, big thanks from me.

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