Pitching Part 2: Five Components of An Irresistible Pitch

Pitching Part 2: Five Components of An Irresistible Pitch

Last week I looked at how to console yourself when a pitch gets rejected by an editor. This week, I present the salve and solution. There are five components of a good pitch that will turn rejections into successes.

1. The Hook
2. The Pitch
3. The Body
4. The Credentials
5. The Close

The Hook

The attention grabbing hook: Start the sentence with something irresistible and snappy.
Problem/solution hook: Ensure that the problem genuinely afflicts the audience of the magazine
The Informative hook: A couple of little known but intriguing stats to lead into a broader discussion/pitch.
The question hook: Start the pitch with: Did you know… Have you ever imagined if… What would you do if…
These questions should be reserved for when the answer isn’t apparent at all. Otherwise the question is redundant.
The personal experience/anecdote hook: Written from the author or subject’s perspective. Although be wary of this when the publication doesn’t accept first person submissions.
Attention grabbing hook: Such as a grabby, exciting part of the story.

Hooks to avoid

  • Personal introductions: Boring! Get straight to the point.
  • Self-aggrandisement: In all cases, getting straight to the point with a concise, powerful and targeted pitch will win you brownie points. This is a precise way to demonstrate your writing ability, respect for the publication and so on.

Pitching Part 2: Five Components of An Irresistible Pitch

The Pitch

This should be the second paragraph and talk about what you are offering. It should offer a proposed title for the piece, and a word count and additional media that is within the range permitted by the publication. Keep it short and sweet. Don’t select a wide ranging topic or it may be bounced.

The Body/Story Outline

This is a brief outline or structure of the piece. It should flow in a logical way and contain interesting and relevant sub topics. This should be in a bullet point format, or can be succinct and in a single paragraph.

Common mistakes made with the story outline

  • Don’t fish: In other words don’t send a query or state that you’re available for assignments without a specific article topic in mind. This won’t garner a response from time-pressed editors. After you have written 2-3 times for them, then you can state your availability for more briefs or ongoing work.
  • Don’t raise questions that can’t be answered: For example saying that you will interview someone to find out something. This may cast a doubt in the editor’s mind.
  • Don’t over-cluter the outline: Don’t get bogged down in data or too much detail. Reserve this for the story itself
  • Don’t tease: Being deliberately mysterious or teasing will not be looked on favourably by an editor. They want to know about the answers to questions that you pose.

Pitching Part 2: Five Components of An Irresistible Pitch

The Credentials

Make sure that you roll all of your relevant experience into a neat little paragraph. Don’t ramble too much here. Also, think outside of the square in terms of your experience and don’t berate yourself or sell yourself short. If you don’t have much writing experience, you may instead have a lot of hands-on experience in the topic area, or professional experience in the industry where the publication is targeted. All of this could be classified as credentials as well.

  • Professional experience in the topic area
  • Industry experience in the area of publication
  • Academic degrees or training in the topic area
  • Teaching experience
  • Personal/first hand experience in the topic area
  • Writing experience (professional or recreational)

The Close

Close the pitch with a little sign off, and remember to include a timeframe for submitting the piece to the editor. Provide your email, phone and skype (or whatever mode of contact that you prefer). Then finish with a polite, but not overly familiar sign off like best wishes or kind regards.

Response time

Add an additional two weeks over the stated response time, just for a buffer and to allow them to get their email back log in order. Don’t hassle them about it whatever you do.

When one door closes…

Actively seek out another door. But don’t jam your foot in there! If you tweak the pitch and change it to suit a different publication, your idea may grow some wings and fly really high!

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4 Comments

  1. This is a wonderful post!!

    I learned a lot here. In fact I’ve printed this and have it posted near my desk where I can refer to it easily.

    Many thanks!!

    Best Regards,
    Eric

    1. This is so flattering that you printed it and have it near your computer, I am deeply flattered, thank you! I hope it helps with any pitching you’re doing. It did help me a few times. Thanks again Eric, you are lovely, hope things are going well for you right now. 🙂 x

  2. Things are going well both personally and creatively. Had a few bumps in the road health-wise but they are working out favorably.

    I’ve sold some of my art to a publisher (more about this on my blog when I’m able to announce it). Also, some interesting projects of my own in production which I’ll post very soon.

    Thanks for your support Athena. You are a true inspiration for me!!

    Very Best Regards,
    Eric

    1. That’s brilliant Eric, so happy that things are flowing much better for you in your personal and professional life. Yes I look forward to your updates on here again including hearing about cool new projects. Beep me when they are up so I go on there and go through your posts, I have liked a lot of people on this thing and now I will have to sort through them to get to your stuff in the reader. Look forward to it, take care 🙂

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