1. Be familiar with the publication’s tone and themes
This may sound simple, but you’d be surprised how many pitches I receive where I can tell the writer has never looked at our website. For example, avoid pitching a research and data-driven study on dog training to a publication that wants first-person parenting stories. Chances are, that pitch will be deleted without even a response to the writer.Also make sure you’re writing in the style of the publication. For example, if I receive a well-written story for Red Tricycle, where the writer uses our friendly, conversational tone and keywords, I’ll be more likely to respond to the writer, even if the story pitch is not the exact match.
2. Use the right punctuation style, and for the love of all things: ONE SPACE AFTER THE PERIOD
I cannot stress this point enough: You must whatever style your target publication is using (chances are it’s use Associate Press [AP] Style) when you write your story. I don’t care how much you like double spaces after periods or the Oxford comma, if the publication doesn’t use them, neither should you! If I – as an editor – have to go through every sentence eliminating the extra spaces after punctuation, I’m tempted not to do it and reject the piece.NOTE: I know it’s tough to break the habit of two spaces after a period. So make it a practice to proof for that, or do a “find and replace” once you finish drafting your article.
3. Allow plenty of time to pitch seasonal and time-sensitive posts
I see this a lot when holidays and time-specific occasions come up. The truth is the editorial calendar is typically planned out months in advance, and most editors are working several weeks out when scheduling holiday and time-specific posts.For example, last November I received a terrific article about ways to get kids involved in Giving Tuesday. But it was submitted Tuesday morning. By that point, it was too late to publish and promote on social media because our Facebook and Twitter queue was already programmed a week prior. So make sure if you have something to pitch that is time-specific, pitch it well in advance.
4. Tell me where else you’ve written that may be relevant
If you’re pitching me at Red Tricycle, a site dedicated to parents and kids, make sure to tell me if you’re a writer at Scary Mommy, HuffPost Parents or another parenting website. This goes with other niche publications and specializations. Your credentials can work for you and give yourself even more credibility; so be sure to tell us that’s part of your brand and what you have to offer.NOTE: On the flip side, don’t stress or let it deter you from writing if you don’t have other bylines or credentials. Remember, we ALL started somewhere!
5. Promote the heck out of your published stories
If I’m working with a writer who consistently promotes his published posts on Facebook, Twitter and on a blog and email newsletter, I’m more likely to remember that individual when additional writing opportunities come up. Why? Because I know they are vested in seeing their article get as much reach and readers as possible.Don’t let simple things like style and timing get in the way of making your writing stand out to an editor. We want to work with awesome writers, so follow these guidelines and get ready to write often.