We all have specific websites, magazines, journals and other publications we read on a regular basis. It’s tempting, when we start thinking about getting more of our work out there, to pick one of our favorite content hubs, seek out their pitching guidelines and formulate a pitch, article or story that fits exactly within that publication’s scope.
As a writer, the best creative strategies are the ones that leave our minds open to seemingly infinite possibilities. Seeking out a specific publication before you have an idea in mind automatically puts you in a box, a cage to hold back your creativity, which is exactly what you don’t want to do when you’re first starting out.
Here are our tips for finding a home for your ideas after you’ve already constructed them, the first installment of our latest series, designed to help your ideas get the attention they deserve.
Who is most likely to pick up your pitch/article/story?
We’ll discuss audience identification a little bit later, but for now, pay close attention to who you think you’re writing to. This will differ depending on whether you’re working on a fiction or nonfiction project.
Picture who you imagine clicking on your article or picking up your story if it were to get published someday. Teenagers? College students? Older adults? Readers of a specific literary genre? Knowing who you’re targeting will help you narrow down options when you’re looking for places to submit your pitch.
Stay away from well-known publications … for now
Let’s be honest: The Huffington Post probably isn’t going to respond to your first, second, third, maybe even your eighth pitch. The bigger the publication, the less likely you are to get noticed. It’s not even that your pitches/articles/stories aren’t worth reading … hundreds of others’ submissions are, too.
When you’re searching for places to pitch to, start small. Just because you get published in a journal or magazine or on a website no one’s ever heard of doesn’t mean it doesn’t count! You’re published! You might even be able to continue contributing to that small publication, get more experience, build your portfolio and eventually be able to work your way up to more well-known pubs.
Work with one pitch at a time
Whether or not you’ll submit only the pitch or the entire article at the beginning depends on the publication. Some magazines and other online media outlets have you submit a short pitch for approval; some will ask for a short pitch along with the article/story already written.
It’s a good idea to stick with one pitch at a time, and let it make the rounds. As we’ve mentioned before, and as we’ll discuss later on throughout the month, your pitch might have a perfect home. If you’re lucky, it might be able to fit in more than one (so you’ll have to choose). But if it doesn’t—that’s okay. You can either choose to tweak it, wait awhile and send it out again, or put it to the side to use for a different idea in the future.
The most important thing to remember when you start pitching is that patience will pay off. Sometimes publications take weeks to accept pitches, and it takes a little while to get into the rhythm of knowing when it’s time to move on to a different outlet.
The more you pitch, the easier it will get, and the more likely you are to, eventually, see your words on the web, in print or both.
Image courtesy of Novelty Revisions.