1. We’re stoked to have Kat Muscat donate her wise words to Pitch, Bitch. Kat is an editor, writer, and feminist based in Melbourne. She writes primarily about sex, sexuality, gender and mental health. Her work has been published by Scum, The Lifted Brow and Voiceworks. She was also editor at Voiceworks for a while, so we asked her some questions pertaining to being new to pitching and writing.

    What does someone who has never pitched before need to know?

    The publication they’re pitching to. When you’re reading a journal or whatever, look for the themes and also silences. Is it a more conversational space or are they going to be after footnotes? If an article has just run on the relationship between body hair and the amount of tea people drink then maybe don’t pitch in that exact vein. Submit either in a style that is cohesive with the publication’s modus operandi, or look for particular gaps you imagine an editor would be keen to fill. Also, editors are incredibly time-poor peeps. So it’s really best to keep your correspondence clear and on point.

    Read the submission guidelines and follow them. Please. Generally speaking though, a couple of sentences outlining what your piece is about, reasons it’s a good fit, and why you’re the one to write it, is all you need to start off with. Unless mentioned otherwise, it doesn’t hurt to attach a 300-ish word extract so we can get a feel for your writing style.

    What mistakes do first-time pitchers make?

    It’s super important to communicate your particular angle or hook. Tired subjects can have new life breathed into them with a fresh perspective. But if we can’t tell how your writing will be giving readers that, your pitch may land in the too-hard basket. As mentioned above, know the publication you’re pitching to. Editors can tell, trust me. This is more than simple egoism on our behalf—really, why would you want to be published in something that’s not worth the effort to read and (hopefully) even buy?

    Lastly, while a couple of typos isn’t going to make us dismiss your pitch, it is important to get it as polished as possible before sending it across. An extra pair of eyes is very helpful for this—as is generally just getting used to showing other people your work for critical feedback. The standard of your pitch does signal to us the amount of work you’ve put into it, and by extension, what you’ll be like to work with.

    What should you do if you don’t hear back from an editor? And if a pitch isn’t successful, how can you figure out what to change next time without concrete feedback?

    Sometimes stuff does just get lost in the inbox, so a follow-up email two or three weeks later doesn’t hurt. This is also dependent on the place, and their procedures, number of staff and all that. Also, avoid sending unsolicited updates to a submitted piece, because if it has already been read, this just translates to more work for the editor. You don’t wanna be the person creating more work. Many publications simply don’t have the capacity to provide feedback. Considering this, it’s a good idea to read the issues that your work was unsuccessful for (this will also increase your familiarity with the magazine, which is great). What do the selected pieces offer that yours perhaps lacked? Have you followed the submission guidelines? Is the quality of your writing up to scratch? If you’re worried about the latter, find ways to get critical feedback on your work. This could be in a writers’ group, or a one-on-one thing—either way I recommend teaming up with someone you’re a bit intimidated by. This usually means you feel they have certain skills you’re yet to master.

    Do you have any specific advice for young writers?

    Get used to writing for a reader. It’s important to know when to push back against an editor and have a dialogue about a particular point. However there are some lines of reasoning that are a nightmare and are good to get out of your system asap. In fiction, for example, this might be including but not exclusive to ‘but that’s just how my character thinks/feels’—if this is not evident in the text (and the editor will have kept an eye out for clues) it needs to be reworked so it’s accessible to your reader. Also, especially when you’re starting out, leaps in logic are really best avoided. They’ll undercut your argument in an article, and tend to do a disservice to plot and characterisation as well, unless wielded very purposefully. Essentially your reader shouldn’t be thinking ‘wait, what?’ at any point.

    As an editor, what makes you excited when you read a pitch or submission?

    It’s fantastic to receive a pitch that puts a new spin on intriguing topics. An interesting subject on its own might get you over the line. But if you can talk about something in a way that shows it in a new light, that’s when my ears perk up proper. Pairing unlikely combos is often a good way to do this. Giving the reader an ‘in’ via a specific catalyst and then branching out into a broader discussion often works well. It’s tempting to consider editors as the gatekeepers you need to conquer in order to see your name in print. The fact of the matter is that we’re as nerdy about writing as you. We want to be introduced to a new perspective, your characters, your argument. That’s why we’re in this gig to begin with.

  2. yourmbstyle:

don’t worry, beyonce

    yourmbstyle:

    don’t worry, beyonce

    Reblogged from: queerpuke
  3. I’d just say to aspiring journalists or writers—who I meet a lot of—do it now. Don’t wait for permission to make something that’s interesting or amusing to you. Just do it now. Don’t wait. Find a story idea, start making it, give yourself a deadline, show it to people who’ll give you notes to make it better. Don’t wait till you’re older, or in some better job than you have now. Don’t wait for anything. Don’t wait till some magical story idea drops into your lap. That’s not where ideas come from. Go looking for an idea and it’ll show up. Begin now. Be a fucking soldier about it and be tough.
    Important advice from Ira Glass. (via annfriedman)
    Reblogged from: arabellesicardi
  4. Explore – Ann Friedman's Disapproval Matrix for handling...

    Love you forever, Ann Friedman

  5. Literary criticism is close to my heart; I got my own start in book blogging and then reviewing books, so I wanted to include a conversation here about how to go about pitching and doing that kind of writing. I’m delighted Carmen Machado agreed to answer a few questions for us (just see the list of where she’s written for below and you’ll see why).

    Tell us a bit about yourself.

    I’m a fiction writer, essayist, and critic, and a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and the Clarion Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers’ Workshop. I’ve written for The New Yorker, The Paris Review, NPR, Los Angeles Review of Books, AGNI, and VICE, and I have a story forthcoming in Granta. Right now, I teach fiction writing at two Philadelphia-area colleges, freelance, and am working on a novel.

    Do you remember the first book review you wrote? How did you get the gig?

    My first review was of Michael Chabon’s Telegraph Avenue for Los Angeles Review of Books. I connected to an editor through a friend, and they asked me if I’d be interested in reviewing that novel, specifically. I’m a huge Michael Chabon fan and am familiar with his oeuvre, so I agreed. I was nervous about writing my first review – I wasn’t sure it was something I wanted to do, or that I’d be good at – but ended up loving the process. I felt like it gave me this whole other level of understanding – not just the way that I read and processed and experienced the book, but also the need to articulate that experience. 

    How do you pitch reviews now?

    I’m always on the lookout for books that interest me and pitch them to the publications with whom I have a relationship. I also make sure the editors I work with have a list of my areas of interest and expertise (no matter how niche – the list includes bullet points as general as “genre-bending fiction” and “short story collections” and as specific as “hypochondria” and “micronations”), so they can suggest books that come across their desk. The result is a nice, interesting mix of assignments with which I am rarely dissatisfied.

    I also do a lot of thinking about the larger implications of books – how they fit into the zeitgeist, how they are in conversation with culture, with other works of art – and am really excited about a novel (or television show, or video game, or film) that I can discuss beyond its own borders. 

    How did your career grow from there? What do you think is important for longevity as a book reviewer?

    After I’d done a certain number of reviews, I came to an agreement with myself that I would only continue to do so for pay. I can’t pay my bills with exposure, y’know? It was rough going at first (I had to decline several projects), but eventually I got on my feet, and I’m proud for standing my ground. Right now, I’m in the middle of reading and reviewing two debut novels for publications I love. 

    I think to assure your longevity as a critic you need to be excited, open, flexible, and passionate. You should value your work. You should read other pieces of literary and cultural criticism that are being written and whether you like the piece or you hate it, you should consider what you can learn from it. You also should approach every review you write without an agenda, and always operate in good faith. You should be generous, tough, and fair. Oh, and you should read John Updike’s rules for reviewing other people’s work and follow them, because they are lovely and smart and true. 

    How do you select the titles you will review? Or are you allocated titles to review more often than not?

    Like I said, I just keep my eyes peeled for books that sound interesting and keep on new books by authors I already love. And the editors I work with know what interests me and allocate books to me, too. It’s a good mix.

    Can you tell us about expanding into other areas of cultural criticism, like video game criticism?

    Last fall, I wrote a piece for LARB about Gone Home, an exquisitely narrative video game. I don’t think of myself as a video game reviewer; rather, I reviewed Gone Home as if it was a particularly intricate type of interactive fiction or postmodern novel – which is how I experienced the game. I’ve also written a piece of television criticism – specifically, about sexual coding in Game of Thrones, which is something that I think about a lot. (Game of Thrones and sexual coding.) I think that if you are passionate about a particular piece of pop culture or media – no matter what it is – and you think about it enough that you suspect that you can see patterns, or ideas being kicked around, or how this show or movie or book or game sits in the cobweb of its peers, or its genre, or culture, then you might be a critic at heart. So go ahead – pitch! 

  6. 7 secrets of successful story pitching | Sue White

    I took a class with Sue White once, and I know she knows what she’s talking about! Have a look at her tips for pitching.

  7. The other day, Meghan Brewster tweeted me saying she’d sent off her first ever unsolicited pitch. I was super excited and asked her to share her experience with us. Thanks, Meghan!

    It might not sound like much, but the other day I sent out my first unsolicited email pitch. I sent it to a website I have been following for a few months, with the request that I write for them. The article I pitched was to a professional medical blog. I wanted to pitch an article that covered what they were not including on their site: how it actually felt to have a particular autoimmune disorder.

    I am a hatchling of a writer. I have just cracked out of my educational shell and am still finding my feet in the writing world. I am quickly realising that there is a pecking order out here and I am at the bottom. At the moment I am trying to find my place in the “line” and patiently wait my turn. That’s what we are taught, isn’t it – to wait our turn? To be polite, to not be pushy, to not upset anybody. I am a domesticated animal, after all.

    I look at all the other writers who have been in this business for longer than me – talented, amazing, inspirational people and I worry I will die before anything good ever happens.

    At least that was what I thought until the Emerging Writers’ Festival this year. I was there as one of the Emerging Writers’ Festival Blogging Partners and had just joined Twitter in preparation for the Festival.

    At the festival, I was scrolling through twitter when I saw a tweet with the hashtag #pitchbitch. Suddenly I was searching for everything I could find of the hashtag. I read the interview with Estelle Tang on the Kill Your Darlings blog and was so inspired.

    I realised that I was the only person who was ever going to get my writing out into the world. I could not just “wait my turn”. I would die before I ever got it. I had to start pitching, even though it made my guts flip over thinking about it.

    I sent the email – a proposal for the article I wanted to write and two examples of past work. I took Meanjin’s advice and did not apologise for the work I was submitting. I did not apologise for my unsolicited email. I did not excuse myself for being forward and approaching them without an invitation. I was truly polite, but I was not ashamed of what I was doing.

    It was the first time I ever asked someone about a job that wasn’t advertised. Within the hour, I had received a very positive yes, along with the encouragement I needed to continue pitching ideas. Pitch, Bitch is such a wonderful resource. I’m frustrated that I did not find it sooner and will definitely send the word around.

    Meghan Brewster studied Fine Art and taught Visual Arts at high schools for a little while before committing to writing as a career. She has a blog about emerging writers called Manuscrapped.com.
  8. How (Not) to Pitch - Atlantic Mobile

    Yo!

  9. The Rereaders on Transformers 4, Pitch Bitch and Eterni.me – The Rereaders

    Australian culture podcast The Rereaders discuss #pitchbitch, as well as the hellish time that is Transformers 4.

  10. image
    Brodie Lancaster is a shreddin’ staff writer for Rookie, an editor and copywriter at The Good Copy and a contributor to various print and online publications. In 2012 she launched Filmme Fatales, a zine on women and cinema. You can find out all about it here. We talked to La Brodie about pitching to specialist publications.
    1. Brodes, have you noticed a gender disparity in who pitches you or how they pitch?

    I have! The majority of pitches I get are from women, which is excellent and one of the true perks of editing content with a female focus. But I also seek out a lot of writers I admire, or friends who I think have strong voices and excellent things to say. And I’d say about 75% of the time I do this, I’m met with hesitation, and responses ranging from “aww no I really don’t think I’m the right person for this” (I wouldn’t have asked you if you weren’t!) to “nobody would want to read what I have to write.” (they would!! I do!!)
    Dudes, on the other hand, will often pitch with the assumption that everyone wants to hear what they have to say. It’s not their fault, really, because they’ve been told that since people were living in caves. It really irks me, though, when they are unable to take no for an answer, or engage with feedback. I’m the editor and make the final call on every decision, but I’ll often find men trying to convince me or mansplain their ideas, as though I didn’t understand their intentions the first time. 
    The point of Filmme Fatales is to shine a light on women doing great things in cinema, and to look at instances when we’re misrepresented. I feel like most of the women who cold-pitch understand this, but some guys just can’t quite grasp it. I recently got a pitch from a guy who wanted to interview a young, female filmmaker and his sample questions were all about how HARD it is for women to make films and if she STRUGGLED to get funding because she was a woman. That guy got a swift, firm “no” from me. (Then tried to tell me how wrong I was for saying no.)
    2. Filmme Fatales is a specialist publication. What are the challenges in commissioning for a specialist publication? 

    Often, when I’m commissioning pieces from female writers, they’ll hesitate or decline because they’re not walking encyclopaedias on the suggested topic. I don’t care if you know what Goldie Hawn’s favourite colour is if you have a lot to say about Private Benjamin
    In the past, I’ve compared my own experiences in this area to the “fake nerd girl” stigma that follows girls who are into cosplay or comic books. Girls can barely step foot in a convention centre without nerd bros hounding her and testing her knowledge, hoping to call her out as a poser and belittle her for the crime of sharing their interests. When people hear I edit a magazine about cinema, but haven’t seen their favourite obscure film, I’m sometimes met with a similar response. It makes me feel like a poser, and like I’m not allowed to be into films without being an expert. I think this is a truly female phenomenon, because we’re acutely aware that people (dudes) are just waiting to call us out and prove that they know more than us. 
    3. What do you like to see in pitches?

    I like to see a writer’s personality and unique perspective, more than anything else. Academic writing or anything too heavy on theory is boring to me; you can recite Laura Mulvey by heart but that doesn’t impress me as much as your ability to draw comparisons between The Sound of Music and Sex and the City. I don’t care if writers have tons of experience in film writing, as long as I can get a sense of what their writing will sound like.
    It’s always obvious which writers are familiar with the publication — or, really, it’s obvious who’s never read it and pitched anyway. Sometimes this turns out well and I get a pitch from a newbie writer who is super keen and interested, but a lot of the time it results in ideas that are totally off the mark or repeats of what we’re published in the past. The worst thing a writer can do is include the words “I’m not sure if this is suitable for your publication” in the email. You need to be sure before you send a pitch, otherwise why is the pitch being sent to me and not myriad other publications?
    4. You’re also a writer – how do you approach pitching publications?

    I follow a combination of Ann Friedman’s guide to pitching and the following checklist:
    - what is the idea?
    - what timely events is it connected to? 
    - why am i the person to write it?
    - why is this publication the right fit for it?
    - background info on me and relevant examples of my work (if pitching a publication for the first time).
    Of course there are exceptions to the timeliness question, but you know, it makes the most sense to pitch a piece about One Direction in the lead up to their Australian tour than during non-peak 1D times; or to pitch a piece about women’s role in the AFL the week preceding the league’s annual Women’s Round than during finals time.
    5. Your next issue of Filmme Fatales has the theme “POWER”. What do you wanna say about this topic?

    I treat my themes pretty loosely — more as buzzwords and thought-starters that provide a cohesive thread through the publication. POWER is all about women in charge, women with strength or supernatural abilities, women teaming up together, women with weapons, women overcoming. My feature interview in this piece is with Janet Pierson (SXSW Film head honcho), who has my ultimate dream job and is easily one of the most powerful women in independent film. This theme has connections to the supernatural, as well as strength and authority, and it has resulted in some really exciting ideas I can’t wait for people to read! 
Next

Pitch, Bitch!

Paper theme built by Thomas