Sunday, 9 July 2017

How to sell your feature ideas to a magazine

I recently received an email from a lady who'd read my book, "Freelance Writing: Aim Higher Earn More". She asked, "My question is, how do I pitch? Do I write a story then think what magazine to send it to or do I write to the magazine asking for a page for a story?"

I did write a small section in the book on this, but it doesn't go into much detail on pitching because it's aimed at people who've got the basics covered and are now looking for new markets and new sources of inspiration. So... how to pitch?

You need to write to the magazine outlining your idea, why you're the best person to write it, and why you think it would suit their magazine. Be aware that many publications have six month lead times, so you need to be thinking aboug new year features now, in July. Weeklies have a shorter lead time. It varies between publications.

So to pitch, email the features editor / commissioning editor / managing editor and explain in one or two paragraphs what your feature idea is, why you're the best person to write the article, why the publication's readers would enjoy it, and provide a 'hook' - a link to an upcoming event, season, or newsy topic, to make it current and newsworthy. Make the idea really compelling, be able to provide pictures if you can, and with any luck, you'll get a commission if you keep doing this repeatedly, and for long enough!

When I write a pitch, I keep a copy of it and record who I've sent it to, so that when I'm uninspired, I can return to my previous ideas and see if I can use them to generate more work. I have hundreds of pages of ideas that I recycle with every new season.

In terms of sending completed articles on spec, there are a handful of magazines who ask for articles to be submitted in full, on spec. A case in point is 'The Oldie'. Look online for submission guidelines for the publication you want to write for, and they may have specific advice on this. If they don't specifically ask for articles on spec, then the rule of thumb is to send the idea only, and not write the article until you receive a commission. The Oldie's submission guidelines are here:

Good luck!

If you're interested in my books, you can view them here.