As I’ve said before, author branding is critical in this competitive publishing industry. Whether you decide to go the traditional publishing route or self-publish, if the potential readership doesn’t know who you are, they won’t care to buy your book. And one way to get them to know who you are is by getting published in magazines and newspapers.
Getting published in periodicals provides you with a potentially large marketing platform. The key is that you want to pitch an article that actually delivers value to the publication’s audience. That should be your priority. Advertising yourself is a secondary benefit. By pitching an article that is actually useful, you are more likely to get published, and the readership is more likely to read what you have to say.
Below are some tips you can use when pitching articles to magazines and newspapers. I just used my own advice yesterday and ended up landing an article in an upcoming issue of Windy City Times.
- Pitch on a topic that is timely – Editors want news that is fresh. And with today’s newscycle flying by at breakneck speed, fresh is about a week tops.
- Research your publications – If you’ve never read the magazine or newspaper you are pitching, don’t pitch them. You need to familiarize yourself with their content and audience base before pitching. What kind of material do they publish? What sections would be appropriate for your article? Who are the section editors?
- Personalize your pitch – It’s always best if you actually know an editor at the publication. If you do, personalize your pitch. If you’re a long-time reader, add that. Anything you can do to sweeten the deal will help. Yes, maintain formalities, but editors are people too.
- Mention your credentials – If it will help you get published, mention your credentials. Why should the publication let you write this article? What makes you so qualified? Whether its journalism credentials or otherwise, it will help to mention it in your pitch.
- Outline your article idea – You don’t have to have a firm grasp of every detail you will discuss in your piece. But you should be able to provide a general outline in your pitch. Why are you writing the article? What sources, if any, do you plan on interviewing? What types of questions do you plan on asking? What do you hope to find out?
- Do not do simultaneous pitching – If you pitch a magazine or newspaper article, pitch to only one publication. Once you receive a rejection, pitch it to another publication. Do not do simultaneous pitches. You will make enemies with editors this way. If time is of the essence, mention that in your pitch. In fact, give a specific deadline for a response, e.g., “Please respond by Thursday as this article is time sensitive.”
- Think like an editor – The best advice I can give for pitching is to think like an editor. Do not think like a writer. You can trumpet how wonderful your article is all you want. That matters little. What does an editor want? An editor wants solid content delivered on time and that will attract readers. Learn how to pitch with that in mind, and you’re golden.