How should I pitch a magazine story?
January 30, 2011 10:33 PM   Subscribe

Give me advice on how to pitch a story to Wired? Should it be short or long? Personal or impersonal? Do american magazines have a specific standard formatting for submitting pitches or is it all ad-hoc?

At a random book event I struck up a conversation with an editor at Wired. He gave me his card and told me that I should pitch something since they're always looking for new material. I've written stories for the latin american market but never for the US (or in english for that matter). I've started writing several proposals, but they turn way too long and sometimes a bit impersonal. Please give me advice on how to pitch.
posted by Omon Ra to Media & Arts (5 answers total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
For the love of all that's holy, keep it short.

eg: "Hi Whatsyourname,

It was nice to meet you at the YYY on QQQ. Anyway, I'm following up on your suggestion that I send you a pitch. I want to write a story about PPPs and QQQs, and their impact on YYYs. I would include interviews with DDDs and an angle about how it all comes back to UUUU.

Does this sound like something Wired might be interested in? Thanks very much for your time,

[Footer with link to online portfolio etc in the likely event the editor won't remember who you are]

Done. Nice and easy.
posted by smoke at 10:53 PM on January 30, 2011

Oh and if you want to make it more personal, you can include a PS or something like eg "PS I tried out those mimosas you recommended, delicious!"
posted by smoke at 10:54 PM on January 30, 2011

I've written features for Wired. When I have something i want to write, I write my editorial contact an informal e-mail saying what I want to write about. Like, a paragraph or two. So I guess that's what you should do too.
posted by escabeche at 11:59 PM on January 30, 2011

Sure, send an informal email, but it's very likely that as a new (to him) writer, you'll need to write out a full proposal before you get cracking. So once you get a nibble on the pitch, check out former New Yorker writer Dan Baum's page on how to write an effective magazine proposal (note: he's selling his services as a proposal ghostwriter of sorts). The sample proposal (PDF) is flat out excellent, almost as good as reading an article itself.
posted by jng at 12:58 AM on January 31, 2011 [7 favorites]

Tim Ferris explained how he pitched an article to Wired here.
posted by LC at 11:46 AM on January 31, 2011 [3 favorites]

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