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A perfect pitch

There’s nothing that makes an editor happier than a perfect pitch.

And so I had a happy day today because I received this pitch from Alyssa Martino:

Hi Julie,

As I believe you know, I’ve been involved in the Matador Network community since early this past fall. I have been cultivating my Matador travel blog, commenting on articles and blogs, and reading up a storm. I recently contributed an article to Matador Goods, called “If Guidebooks Could Talk,” which explored the personas of various travel guides. My personal blog is here, and as shown in my online portfolio, I have also written for Boston’s Weekly Dig, MetroWest Daily News, ourfuture.org and Poptimal.com.

I would like to contribute a short piece to Matador Change about teaching English to refugees in the U.S.. This is something I was briefly involved in in Upstate New York (Utica has a huge refugee population!) and believe that Matadorians would be very interested in.  I would like to emphasize the importance and impact of teaching English to migrants as a sort of psychotherapy for those fleeing trauma and conflict, encouraging travelers/do-gooders to consider this option while putting down roots in the states.

I envision the article as having a short introduction on refugee statistics in the United States. Next, I would provide a summary of reasons why this practice is important, pulling from my own experience to highlight the positive impact and personal fulfillment of my volunteer work. Finally, I would conclude by providing some specific cities–and links to relevant centers–that have large refugee populations and could benefit from more English teachers and volunteers.

If you are interested in this concept, I can have a draft ready by the first week in February. I look forward to hearing back from you and hope we can connect further via Matador Network and our dual interests in travel and writing.

Thanks for your time and this opportunity.

Best,

Alyssa

**Julie — I tried to really utilize “How to Write an Attention-Getting Query,” as well as advice I once recieved in a freelance writing class. I’d really benefit and appreciate any quick feedback you have for me on this pitch itself and if it “worked.” Always looking to maximize utility of queries, and thought you would be a good person to ask – no rush and no obligation, of course!**

After tweeting about how perfect I thought this pitch was, several people asked if I’d share Alyssa’s pitch so they could learn from it. I asked Alyssa for her permission, which she gave graciously.
What did you learn from her pitch? What questions about pitching do you still have? Leave your thoughts in the comments below and I’ll respond to your ideas and questions.

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11 responses »

  1. Wow, she pretty much covered everything that we learned about pitches at MatadorU… nice pitch Alyssa!
    My only question is, does it grab an editor’s attention more to begin by introducing yourself or by introducing your idea for an article?

    Reply
  2. Ah! I have the same question as Abbie actually. What about starting with *insert attention grabbing lede on refugees in the U.S.*?

    I think I was advised to do that at one point and neglected to do so here! Does it take away?

    I guess what I’m asking is, Julie, did you keep reading because you recognized my name? What if this was a cold pitch to an editor at a magazine or site I’d never written for? Would a topic-related lede be more fitting?

    Reply
  3. I know a couple of editors who don’t want to know anything about the writer, so take what I’m about to say as a preference that may be entirely personal! 🙂

    One of the reasons I thought your pitch was so solid, Alyssa, is because you introduced yourself succinctly but thoroughly, and you made that introduction relevant to the specific pitch you were making. You positioned yourself as someone who would know something about the subject she proposed to write about.

    I like when writers tell me a bit about themselves for that reason, but I also like it because I tend to file that introductory information away in my brain and reference it as needed for future assignments. Sometimes, I’m looking for a writer who can handle a specific topic, and I’d much rather reach out to a writer I know, in most instances, than one I don’t. To me, that personal information indicates that you want to establish a long-term professional relationship if there’s a good fit between yourself/your experience/your skills and the publication. In this case, there is a good fit.

    And that’s the other reason your pitch was so solid: You knew the publication to which you were pitching and you made it clear (without being arrogant or obnoxious) that you knew Matador’s content interests, as well as our overall mission, vision, and vibe.

    You might be surprised by how uncommon good pitches are. And perfect ones?

    Well… 😉

    Reply
  4. Pingback: Some retrospect on pitching « The Pen and Paper Chronicles

  5. I guess there’s no recipe then. It’s really about knowing the target – the “mission, vision, and vibe,” as Julie mentioned.

    …and it all finally clicks.

    Still not sure if this makes the art if pitching easier or more difficult! It’s a lot of work to get to know a publication. But if you love it…it won’t seem like work. I guess that narrows down where we should be pitching.

    Reply
    • Ha! I feel you there, Alyssa. From the other side of the desk–the writer side–I’m always obsessing over pitches. I’ve found it really useful to run my pitches by friends and colleagues. I actually have a small group of other writers I do this with and it’s been invaluable. Lots of times, I find that I’m way too close to my pitch. As you wrote in your post on your blog, I feel way too excited about it and find that I’m not conveying the clearest pitch I can. In these cases, it helps me to run it by them for feedback. (Bonus: It helps me become more open to constructive criticism. 😉

      Reply
  6. Wow – thanks for posting that. Super helpful!

    Reply
    • Hi, Amiee-

      Glad you found the pitch helpful.
      Are there any other aspects of writing/pitching/publishing you’d like to read about here?

      Reply
  7. Julie and Alyssa – Thanks for posting such a helpful piece and the introspections that follow it are equally valuable. Julie, I love the idea of running pitches past friends. It seems so silly, but though I almost always run articles past friends, I almost never run pitches past them. Thanks!

    Reply
    • Yes, running pitches by other writers is really helpful. Hal and Carlo of Matador are my “pitch pals” and their insight and feedback are so useful. They help me see shortcomings I miss on my own.

      Reply

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