Tuesday, 28 October 2008

#50 - Pitch a story, not a list of destinations

Or how to avoid annoying an editor.

Annoying freelancer habits
The other week, I asked one of my editors what freelancer habits annoyed her most. This was her response:

“I think the most annoying emails are the ones giving someone’s life story and then just saying ‘so I can write any kind of article you like’.
“A close second would be ones that just give a list of well known countries the writer is about to travel to and asking me if I’d like any articles written about them… it’s up to writers to pitch story ideas to me, not the other way round.”

The freelancer’s job
OK then. Hands up – who has made a pitch like that at some point? I know I have, and it’s very easy to see this editor’s point. It is the freelancer’s job to come up with a story idea. It’s important to get to the point in a pitch. You are selling an idea, not asking whether an editor would like to give you some work.

The destination is not a story in itself
If you put yourself in the editor’s shoes, would you be likely to commission someone on the basis of a list of countries they are going to? Of course not. I refer back to my earlier point – a destination is not a story in itself. And if that mantra doesn’t stick, then be aware that you’re going to annoy a few editors.

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