Five Mistakes I Made Pitching Editors that Cost Me the Byline

Pitching is all about building trust with an editor that you are capable and worth investing in. You know their publication; you’re easy to work with; you’ll do a good job. You prove all of these things by writing the best pitch you possibly can. This takes practice and being able to learn from your mistakes or—in this case—mine.

Here are five mistakes I made in an email pitch that negatively impacted the pitch itself and, in some cases, my relationship with that particular editor.

1) I got the editor’s name wrong

I’ve misspelled two different editor’s names. Both times my pitches were rejected. Imagine that? It’s one of the things spell check will totally miss: Sara versus Sarah, Robin versus Robyn. Check, double check, triple check the spelling of the editor’s name.

2) I didn’t wait until the next day

By the time I’ve prepared my pitch, I’m so ready to send it out the door. But I’ve learned that—especially if it’s a pitch to a new editor or publication—waiting until the next day is almost always a good idea. I’ll work on a pitch until my eyes lose focus. I won’t see the logic holes or grammatical errors or that magical phrase that would sell the thing. Letting the pitch get cold and taking a second look gives me perspective and makes my pitch stronger.

The first time I pitched one of my dream publications, I’d been working on the email for DAYS. I was so sick of it that as soon as I got the email to a point I thought it was okay, I just sent the damned thing. The next day I read it over and realized that I’d repeated a sentence twice (a copy and paste error). My confidence was shattered, and the pitch was rejected. Whether it was for that reason, the duplicated sentence didn’t help, and maybe my pitch could’ve been stronger overall if I’d given it that extra day!

Patience is key unless your pitch is time-sensitive!

3) I didn’t TRIPLE proofread

That’s right. TRIPLE proofread. The last thing you want an editor to think is that you’re not SUPER CAREFUL, because they don’t have time for sloppy work. By the way, Grammarly (a browser-based grammar checker that will proofread your emails for you!) has saved my butt sooooo many times. Please try it out. For your sake.

4)I sent (several) pitches with broken links

One of the publications I write for most often updated their website, and links to articles I used as clips stopped working. I sent multiple pitches by copying and pasting my links from past emails that were broken. Check your clips. They matter.

5) I didn’t check a publication’s website to see if they’d published similar stories

I wasted my time and the editor’s. In this case, the stories were dissimilar enough that, although he didn’t take my pitch, it didn’t cost me the relationship. But if the stories are super similar, it’s evidence that you’re not reading the publication that you’re pitching to. Do your homework for several reasons: you’ll develop pitches better suited for that particular publication by learning their angles and language. And, if you’re like me, reading always spurs new ideas.

Want more tips about pitching? Sign up for my monthly newsletter to download my free Guide to Pitching Editors ebook.

Photo by Sarah Briovon

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