How to write an intriguing magazine pitch?
February 21, 2011 7:59 AM   Subscribe

Writing magazine pitches: help me as though I were a child.

Going the rote MeFi/Google search brought this previously up, but seeing as how I don't wish to pitch an article for Wired, have no professional contacts, I figured I'd re-ask the question with a focus on my special snowflake details.

Update for my own previously question: still writing the occasional local food focus column for the local English newspaper, but am finding it increasingly unsatisfying. Not the subject matter itself, but the paper. Frankly, it really isn't a very good newspaper---lots of headlines along the lines of "Woman Spots Horse; Town Shocked"---and its subscribers tend to be along the lines of elderly Anglophones who really only want to read about the next Rotary meeting and whether or not their language will accosted again.

As I say, not exactly the audience I'm aiming for and truthfully, not a newspaper I want to build a career from (I know, I know...we all gotta start somewhere...).

I'd like to learn how to write a magazine pitch. I do believe my POV regarding food is unique and worth reading. I just need to figure out how to say so in a succinct manner that will get a magazine interested. I'm thinking along the lines of magazines like Food & Wine, Saveur, Bon Appetit, the Art of Eating, etc.

So please, if you would be so kind, to give me pointers, websites, some personal experience, Hive Mind, I'd really appreciate it.

(Also, I am fully aware that there will be rejections before celebration, but it's about damn time I stuck my neck out and took a chance.)
posted by Kitteh to Media & Arts (4 answers total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: It may be difficult to pitch an actual regular column at first to an unknown magazine, but you may be able to do it.

What you ought to do is identify some magazines or papers that you would like to be published in. Research their submissions policy, and follow it to the letter.

Generally speaking, you submit pitches to an editor. For magazine pieces, pitches should be about 250 words in 3 paragraphs.

Paragraph 1 is the hook. It should be an excerpt from the piece you're proposing to write, and should be written in the style that you are proposing to use for the piece. It has to be good, and it has to capture the attention of the editor within 5 seconds. It has to leave some sort of question dangling there, something that makes the editor or whoever want to read more.

Paragraph 2 outlines the article that you're proposing to write. It should also be written in an engaging way, but it's also a summary. It should identify questions that will be answered in the piece. It should also touch on why the piece you;re proposing is relevant to the magazine - its readership and its editorial policy.

Paragraph 3 talks about you. Why are you qualified to write this piece? What will your sources be? Why are you approaching this magazine in the first place?

If you do the pitch right, you'll come across as a good, competent writer who will not miss deadlines and will add value to the magazine. Apparently, not a whole lot of freelancers have all of these attributes.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:00 AM on February 21, 2011 [7 favorites] has a section of "how to pitch to [name of magazine]" but you have to be a member ($55/year). (I am not a member, but if I were you, I think I might become one.) They also have a section of pitches that worked (but these seem a little old to me.)
posted by purpleclover at 12:05 PM on February 21, 2011

Best answer: I used to be a pitchee. My biggest piece of advice is to know the magazine you are pitching to inside and out, and to make sure that the story you are pitching is an exact fit for that magazine. If it's not, the editor will think you are either stupid or lazy, and likely will hesitate to read a pitch from you again.
posted by Camofrog at 12:43 PM on February 21, 2011 [1 favorite] is a very helpful (subscription-only) website which gives very specific "How to Pitch" info about many magazines (it's also a bit less US-centric than Mediabistro); if you're going to invest in one subscription, I would do before I did Mediabistro.

Also, the boards at may be helpful. And free!
posted by Sidhedevil at 2:10 PM on February 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

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