The Ultimate Pitching Guide
Plus places to pitch your work, podcasting and more
How are we all doing? Still hanging in there? There is a light at the end of the tunnel at last in the nightmare of this pandemic - it won’t be much longer, now. That being said, as a reminder, it’s okay to take things at your own pace - you are under no obligation to come into close contact with anyone, or to go into crowded areas. Health and anything related needs to come first.
Here at The Disability HQ we have been slowly putting together plans for further down the line. We have slowly started to put plans in place for season two of our podcast, for example; we will be implementing a business structure so that we can pay freelancers to write for this newsletter. We are still looking for mentors to take part in a voluntary pilot scheme to provide mentoring to younger freelancers, too.
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ICYMI - the last 7 days in disability and freelancing
Is body positivity ableist? This is a really interesting read.
This is a small glimmer of hope in the nightmare that is this pandemic.
This is going to be controversial, this new BBC documentary. And it has been rightly criticised on Twitter. PSA: no one is the arbiter of ‘how disabled’ someone is.
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Let’s be clear about this: pitching is hard. And it can feel really disheartening to receive rejection after rejection. Freelancing relies a lot on the ‘elevator pitch’ - not just if you’re a journalist or writer of some sort. Pitching is something we have already started receiving inquiries about - so we thought we’d put together a whistle stop 101 guide to pitching. We have tried to make this as inclusive as possible, too.
Do Your Research
If you’re going to partner up with someone, you are going to need to at least know a little bit about the person on the other end. Start with the basics; if you’re pitching to a magazine or newspaper, do not pitch to an email that is something like firstname.lastname@example.org. Find the most relevant person who is in charge - the commissioning editor, an agent, the book editor, whoever. Find their name, and if they have any requirements listed - sometimes editors have a company web page with their preferred books they want to read, for example. Be specific and tailor the pitch to them - think what you have to offer them.
Big Yourself Up
Think about your subject lines. Make it really, frankly, freaking obvious this is a pitch - something like FREELANCE PITCH: in the subject line will do.
Freelancers are their own brand. No one is going to do your own marketing for you. So, state it clearly as to who you are - and include links to any relevant work. If you can, try use assertive phrases - apologising may feel the right way to go. (Trust us on this - the four people behind this are women, and we have arguably been trained to apologise when after something.) All you need to say is thank you for your time.
Be Concise But Actually Interested
Ideas need to be specific to become tangible. Asking to just write about, y’know, TikTok and stuff, will not get anywhere. If you wouldn’t approach one of the Dragons on Dragon’s Den like it, chances are this will not get commissioned.
So. Think about what your idea is. Make it as specific and concise as possible. Keep it simple and as relevant to the person you are pitching as much as possible. A few sentences will cover this. If you can pitch it under a minute, chances are it’s a good pitch.
Be interested in the idea as well. Stand it up, be passionate about it. If it’s the right thing to do, pitch it.
Follow Up, Follow Up, Follow Up
Rejection is not the end of the world. There will always be someone interested if you have a good enough idea; earlier this year I scored a number one news item for the Metro on Apple News. Not bad for a piece that was actually scrapped earlier, and for triple the fee. All you have to do is to find the right person. Keep your idea, do not just get rid of it because someone is not interested - 90% of the time it is just because there is no space or budget.
If you don’t hear from someone in, say, a week, follow up. Just send an email to politely ask if they are still interested in the idea.
… And An Example Pitch That Was Actually Commissioned
This is an example of a pitch that was actually successful, and will be in The Author at some point this year. The headline was the subject - and it was helpful as I had already corresponded with the editor before. We agreed a word count and fee, and this was ready to be written up.
Authors Now Use Podcasts To Promote Their Books. Is It Worth It?
When it comes to book releases, there are a lot of different ideas as to how to promote the work of authors. It could be via live interviews, streams, etc. However, there is a new trend - and that is for authors to release podcasts in line with their new book, as a ‘limited run’. Examples of this include Terri White (Coming Undone), Dolly Alderton (Ghosts) and Pandora Sykes (How Do We Know We’re Doing It Right?) Podcasts, we have known for a long time, are a big business - but do they really impact the sales of books on release day?
This would be an FAQ style long form feature to explore this and the impact of the podcast on the book sales. I would also expand with quotes from authors, publicists, as well as book sellers and related firms.
Do you have any pitching questions? Hit reply to this email and we will try to answer before the next newsletter goes out.
[AD] This newsletter is sponsored by Swirl Global. A community of swimmers, advocates, parents, teachers and others, founders Steph and Rachael focus on bringing inclusion to the world of aquatics, through education and resources, including sensory friendly swimming aids. You can take part at swirlglobal.com.
Places To Pitch - and other resources
Based in the US and love internet culture? This pitching app is ideal for you.
If you know all about TikTok, you should not miss this.
Bookworm? Pitch the Guardian.
Our friends at Freelancing For Journalists compiled a list of places to pitch this summer.