By Terreece M. Clarke
There are a variety of things a writer must take into account when making a pitch to a publication. A writer must meet and get to know the publication. So I’m advising writers to take it out on a date.
Make an appointment, clear out the distractions and ask the publication about itself:
- Are you printed often?
- Who’s your audience?
- What’s your tone? Are you authoritative? Cheeky? Friendly?
- How much of you is written by freelancers? Any specific sections?
- What have you talked about in the past year?
- Are there certain topics you just love to have?
- What’s your editorial calendar like?
- How much do you pay?
- Do you offer kill fees?
- What about rights? Are you naughty – taking all rights or do you like first serial North American rights?
- Who edits each section?
After a lovely date in which you two had so much to talk about you should go home and decide if you think there’s a future there. Are you two compatible? Would the publication be interested in what you have to offer? Are you willing to take the next step and make your intentions know through a promise ring (query) in front of the folks (editors)?
Getting a good feel for the publication is one of the most important things a writer can do because editors can tell when a writer is comfortable with its audience. Nothing will sour the relationship more than a pitch that is completely out of sync with the audience and tone. It signals sloppy research and less than noble ideals. It’s like using your ex’s ring to propose to a new love – not cool.
How is the query challenge coming along? What steps have you taken to get started?