Like the act of writing itself, getting published is a process. Often a long, unpredictable process that involves more waiting than anything else. You have a lot of ideas, and you just want them to be heard, dangit! How do you know you’re doing it right if no one’s emailing you back?
Just because you’re stuck waiting doesn’t mean you can’t continue to crank out, and submit, more ideas elsewhere. How—and why? We’ll show you.
Keep a running list of pitches
There are several reasons you shouldn’t ever just “wing it” when pitching a story idea, whether it’s to a magazine, blog or part of a proposal of sorts for your agent. Some online submission forms don’t automatically send you a copy of what you’ve just submitted, and if someone comes back to you and says they’d like you to develop and send in your story … and you don’t remember your exact pitch … that might be a problem.
Keeping a list of ideas you’ve pitched, where you’ve pitched them and whether they’ve been accepted, rejected or ignored can help you figure out your niche (which topics you tend to gravitate toward writing about), which kinds of pitches fit certain publications (and which don’t) and can even help you get used to the time gap between when you pitch and if/when you generally get a response. Once you pitch one idea to a publication, you can take advantage of that gap and pitch different ideas somewhere else while you’re waiting.
Teach yourself to track your own progress
The more you pitch, the better you get at it. We won’t say it gets easier, because that would be a lie. Over time, you do start to get a better sense of what certain audiences want to read, what they already know, what they want to know and how to construct pitches that will grab editors’ attention.
The same way journaling can give you the chance to look back at your younger, less experienced self, keeping track of your story ideas over time, regardless of whether they’ve been accepted or not, allows you to look back at the kinds of pitches you were submitting last month, last year, even a few years ago, if you’re really dedicated (go you!).
Never pitch the exact same story twice
What if an idea for one publication or agent gets rejected or ignored, but you want to try and pitch it somewhere else? It’s true that your pitch may have been overlooked because it’s not quite the right fit for that particular publication’s audience or that agent’s requested genres. But the pitch itself might also need some revising. Maybe it’s not specific enough. Maybe it’s almost there—but not quite ready yet.
It’s okay to try an idea out in more than one place, if the first or second don’t work out. But don’t pitch the exact same idea every time. Play around with your angle. Keep your audience in mind. Keep working at it, either until it finds its fit or until you decide it’s time to move on to something different.
If you want to get published, it’s important to remember there’s only so much you can control throughout the process. But if you want it—and we mean really want it—you’ll find a way to make it work. You’ll figure out how to improve your pitching strategies and find not just where your stories fit, but where you fit as a writer, too.
Image courtesy of Novelty Revisions.