By Bianca Mendez
Any aspiring editor and writer knows that if you want to make it in the magazine industry, you need be bursting with great ideas. Pitching stories as a new freelancer or for an edit test can sound intimidating, so Ed asked the pros for their best tips for wowing an editor with a genius story idea.
Have a Fresh and Timely Hook
“A timely hook is essential for any good pitch, even if the heart of the story is something evergreen like Thanksgiving or spring cleaning,” says Sarah Bruning, a writer whose work has been featured in CNTraveler.com and Cosmopolitan. “The hook can be anything from a new book coming out to the launch of a new product to a recently published study or survey.” Skimming through social media or even grabbing brunch with girlfriends are also great ways to pick up on trends. And don’t forget to to ask yourself “Why now?” to make sure whatever angle you’re covering feels fresh and new, adds Jenna Birch, a health and wellness freelance writer.
Tailor Your Idea to Your Audience
Think about it: You probably wouldn’t find a story about Kylie Jenner’s lip injections in Good Housekeeping. Figure out who’s reading the publication you’re pitching to and why your idea resonates with them. Bruning suggests reading a few back issues to understand what the magazine covers. And be sure never to pitch something that’s already been covered. “Do your research and make sure there’s nothing in the publication that resembles what you’re writing,” says Alyse Whitney, an entertainment freelance writer for Glamour.com and Bustle.
Get the Editor’s Attention
“Editors get so many emails that they want to be able to skim your idea and know if it will work right away,” says Whitney. She suggests writing a catchy hed in the subject line so your pitch email stands out from PR pitches right away. Also, Birch notes that just like in a story, a snappy lede is important. “Make yours tight, interesting, and bring the pitch straight to the point.“ Write no more than three short paragraphs for a feature pitch, and only a couple of sentences for web.
Show that You Can Write the Piece
Not only do you have to prove to editors that your idea is awesome, but you have to show them that you are worth assigning to. Birch suggests including clips that touch on a similar topic as the idea you’re pitching, especially if you’re new to freelancing. Mentioning sources is another way to gain credibility. Bruning notes that suggesting appropriate sources, whether it’s a professional expert or a real person, helps bolster the argument that you’ll be able to handle the piece and knock it out of the park.