Why Pitching “Bad” Ideas Is a Good Idea | LET’S GET PUBLISHED

blog0922

Before you scroll down to the comments section to scold us for our latest bite of advice, take a deep breath. Never judge a blog post by its title, right?

So far in our LET’S GET PUBLISHED series, we’ve covered how to choose the right publication to submit your pitches to and how (and why) to keep track of the pitches you do submit. Never once have we advised you to submit a story idea, to anyone, before giving it some serious thought first.

So why, then, are we screaming at you to pitch “bad” ideas? What’s that about, huh?

The thing is, nothing you submit is ever going to be perfect the first time around. Either it’s just not refined enough to make it past the first publication barrier or it doesn’t quite fit the mold of what that particular editor is looking for.

But sometimes, you have a pitch you’ve been brainstorming and fixing up for a little while. You know it’s not perfect. Keeping it to yourself just because you don’t think it’s ready, though, is only going to hurt you. Here’s why.

You are your absolute worst critic 

Have you ever noticed that it’s the ideas you think need the most work that other people grab onto the fastest? It’s always the idea you don’t think will make it to the next round that gets picked up first. There’s a reason for this: you spend a lot of time with your ideas, and after awhile, none of them are ever going to seem appealing enough to you to sell.

When we spend enough time mulling over our story ideas, we become desensitized to them. Have you ever just casually said to someone, “Oh, I’m writing a book/article/story” and wondered why they seem so intrigued? Is it really that big of a deal? It is! You’re just so used to it, it doesn’t look that way to you anymore. We face the same dilemma when pitching ideas. So when you don’t think something is quite good enough—pitch it anyway. Just do it.

You might get more helpful feedback than you expect 

It’s not always easy to predict how editors are going to react to your idea submissions. Some, okay, most, will pick the ones they like and spend their time pursuing those: they’ll just ignore the ones they aren’t planning on using, because they get hundreds, and they’re not robots. They can only do so much.

Some editors, though, particularly with small publications and newer blogs, will respond to your pitches even if they’re not quite ready to move forward in the publication process. You might actually get some decent feedback on how to revise your pitch to make it stand out more, broaden its subject matter or clarify its purpose. You never know, so it’s worth taking a chance regardless of whether you’re completely confident or not. Which, of course, leads nicely into our final reason to pitch, even when you think you have a “bad” idea. 

You never know until you pitch 

Honestly, if you never just “go for it,” you’re never going to get published, anywhere, no matter how much time you spend refining your skills. Pitching to publications is an experience in itself, so even if it feels like no one is ever interested in the ideas you’re throwing out there, it’s so much better than never pitching at all.

As we mentioned above, sometimes what you think will never make it will end up doing exactly that. The more time you spend worrying about whether so-and-so will “like it,” the less time you’re spending getting it out there for people to see, working on other projects and getting better and better at pitching, writing and selling as you go.

Have a bad idea? Pitch it. At least now you know what we mean by “bad.”

You can do it. The moment just before you hit send is the worst. Okay, waiting to hear back is pretty awful, too. But that gets easier to handle, too. We promise.

Image courtesy of Novelty Revisions.

Advertisements

How to Find the Publication that Fits Your Pitch | LET’S GET PUBLISHED

blog0908

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.