How to become an expert at pitching magazines

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Interested in publishing an article, review, or other piece of writing? Unless you’re gifted with the world’s best network, you’re most likely going to have to pitch publications.

various magazines in stacks
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Heather John Fogarty (MFA Writing ’18) has spent years not only pitching to editors herself but, as the senior editor at both Bon Appetit magazine and the Los Angeles Times, reviewing pitches from fellow writers. “Pitching is a muscle that needs to be exercised and kept in shape,” Fogarty said.

Read her tips for crafting a pitch guaranteed to get you noticed.

  • Know your audience/market. Editors have limited time and resources, Fogarty said. You need to be able to show that your piece is in line with their publication specifically. And your pitch should be tailored to that publication—which means you need to read the publication. “There are very few stories you could pick up and drop from one publication to the next,” Fogarty said.

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“There are very few stories you could pick up and drop from one publication to the next,” Fogarty said.

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  • Make me care. You are selling the editor a product, an idea, or an experience. Your first line should tell them why they want to read this, and give them a reason to continue reading. Your pitch should be able to double as the first paragraph of the article you write, Fogarty said. And it needs to be specific—you can’t just pitch an article on “tomatoes” to a food magazine, she added.

  • Find a new way in. How are you going to tell the story you’re writing about in a unique way that hasn’t been done before? This means reading a lot, Fogarty said—reading other articles in the vein of what you’ve worked on, and reading articles published by the publications you want to be published by.

  • Less is more. Readers want short content, Fogarty said. And writing short is more difficult than writing long—you have to get to the heart of the piece more quickly, and you have to do it in a way that’s fresh and fun to read. Which brings us to…

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"...writing short is more difficult than writing long—you have to get to the heart of the piece more quickly,"

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  • Style. Good writing style—a fresh perspective, an interesting POV, and good writing organization—is the most important element of your pitch (and your article), according to Fogarty.

Editors almost always prefer to work with known quantities—writers with whom they’ve worked before, Fogarty said. But a great pitch, showing you’re familiar with their publication, you have a unique take on a topic and a strong writing voice, and the qualifications to take on the story can make you stand out from the crowd and start building your bylines!

 

Photo by Charisse Kenion on Unsplash

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