A thought about Pitches

The writer’s usual form of exercise. (Credit: Zugr at Unsplash)

Recently, I read a newsletter from a woman who runs a blog for writers. She talked about a forthcoming post a guest-blogger wrote about  how marathon-running tips could be applied to writing. It was one of the metaphorical “what kindergarten taught me about business” types of post which are currently very popular on the net.

She also said she was looking for more guest-bloggers and feel free to send her a pitch.

Now, the post got me thinking about my own situation. I’ve had a really crappy neck and back for years. I’ve received physiotherapy for both and got a ton of exercises I need to do each day to build up my muscle strength. I figured this was going to get in the way of writing rather a lot and so, with my ADHD head on, I set out to find a way to minimise the damage.

You know what? I succeeded! Not only have I managed to incorporate the exercises into my day but I’ve added other weight training exercises too and increased my body weight substantially just by building muscle tone. More than that, rather than these exercises getting in the way of writing, they’ve made me more creative, able to concentrate more and get more done in the day. I figured this was a perfect thing for a blog dedicated to helping writers improve what they do and how they do it.

So I pitched a post about how I fit exercise into my day as a writer and how that’s had the accidental effect of improving my writing, why and how it could be applied to other writers’ lives.

The reply I received?

She told me that if I ‘read the post‘ I would have seen a health-related post (the marathon tips one) had just been used and so obviously this pitch was no use, thanks all the same.

Now fair dues, I didn’t expect the post to get used straight after the marathon one. But I did check out the site to make sure there weren’t any/many other posts about health, sport or exercise and, as far as I could see, it was pretty limited. The post would have been fine for use at some near point in the future.

But this editor really hadn’t got the difference. The post she published was a metaphorical ‘how writing is like running a marathon’ whereas mine was a ‘how you can keep healthy as a writer and write more not less through exercise’.  These two are clearly different subjects even if there is a unifying idea of exercise.

I could just write an unprofessional rant about how silly the editor was for not understanding a pitch, but I won’t.

Instead I’ll offer these two observations:

  1. We’re all human. Just because I wrote my pitch one way, doesn’t mean an editor – busy and overworked with a ton of pitches to reject – will automatically read it the same way. We all interpret things differently.
  2. It’s my job as a writer to make sure I write a pitch which is attractive and editors will read it the way I intended. If an editor ‘doesn’t get it’ that’s not his or her fault: it’s mine, all mine.

That’s a toughie – especially when you feel your hard work on a pitch has been completely misunderstood – but it’s the difference between being professional and being an unpublishable amateur.  There’s two things I have to do with this pitch now:

  • Re-write it so the main thrust is clearer – maybe even make the specific point that it is a real-life case study and not a metaphorical application
  • send it to a different editor. I don’t actually know if this editor misunderstood the pitch or really just didn’t want anything more remotely associated with health right at that moment. Her reasons could well have been very good ones.

Sending the pitch back to the same editor would merely say ‘you’re an idiot! How dare you not publish my idea!’ That would be, alas, writing suicide and not what I want to communicate at all. I love exercise but I’m not prepared to die for it.

Metaphorically speaking, of course.

Related articles to do with pitching and guest-blogging:
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2 thoughts on “A thought about Pitches

  1. A dear friend of mine is an aspiring writer, especially in poetry. I know of others who have taken writing as a professional career. From what I gather, their inspiration is to write. Just write. They often struggle to market their work correctly and properly, which at times impacts their confidence and add pressures to the way they currently write. I’d like to think I’m an business entrepreneur, where creativity and being different give you recognition and gets your noticed. I have on many occasions shared with them ideas of how to get their work noticed, even if it was unorthodox approach. I run the risk of going off topic here but if I was a writer, where writing was my career and profession, I’d certainly look at the area of business and marketing to understand how to sell their work, for all the right reasons.

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    1. Yes, you’re right – professional writers have to be able to market their work properly. I spend about an hour each day just doing this, reading emails from various marketing gurus, writing LOIs and pitches to editors takes another hour and yet another might be spent on write book proposals which are, effectively, carefully constructed advertisements for agents and publishers about why they need to have you on their books.

      I think most writers (myself included) hate this part of our work and can get so sucked into the marketing aspects that we never actually have the time to write anything! I’m still learning to juggle the load so that I spend no more than a third of my time on marketing and selling myself and two-thirds doing the business of writing itself.

      But I often fail. Yesterday, for instance, was spent entirely on this blog putting clips and recommendations together and I’m still nowhere near finished…

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