How to Write a Rockin’ Pitch for Magazines, by Janine Petry

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Photo compliments of Morguefile.com

Would you like to write for magazines but aren’t sure how to get started? Have you written a novel and don’t know how to get exposure?

Think about writing articles that center around the theme of your book or topics you know. For instance, if your book has divorce as a central theme why not write an article for a parenting magazine on this subject? If you’re an avid hunter, why not write for hunting magazine? Gaining exposure as a writer is always a positive–even if it’s not what your book is about. If readers like your articles they might take an interest in you as a person and a novelist.

But how do you break into this market?

I recently attended a local seminar about MAGAZINE WRITING and was so glad I did. Janine Petry was the speaker. Here’s her bio:

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As you can see, Janine has great experience in magazine writing. What an ideal opportunity for me to meet her and learn from her! Below are the notes from her seminar. I hope they help you as much as they did me.

The Essentials of Magazine Writing

Janine Petry

 Steps to Getting Published

1. The Query Letter

Here’s what to include in your pitch:

  • Date/Address – Include these in your email. Research who the editor is you need to reach. Search that magazine’s writer guidelines to get the name of the editor.  Connect a name because it’s more effective. It looks like you did your homework.
  • Pitch: Uncover the need – Find the WRITERS GUIDELINES for the magazine you want to write for. In their guidelines it should tell you what types of articles they want. STUDY who the readers are who subscribe to that magazine. What are the readers looking for? What do they need? Pitch this to the editor of the magazine.
  • Deliver the Solution – Explain how you’re going to show readers how to solve their problem, or find the answers to their perceived or felt need.
  • Promise you’re the right person – Why should you write this article? What makes you the expert? List your credentials and how they apply to the information you’re going to deliver.

Janine uses Donald Miller’s approach to this. (He has a FREE book called SEVEN Steps to Tell a Story at his website that really helps novelists too.  www.storylineblog.com) Donald says:

  • Start with your character. Who is your audience? In a magazine article it’s the reader. Is your reader a mom, a hunter, a teen? Define your “character” first so you know who you’re writing the article for. You need to know this because in order for your “pitch” to work you have to appeal to this reader.
  • Who has a problem – The “character” or “reader” has a problem. What is it? Begin with a felt need–something the reader “thinks” they need. For instance, in a parenting magazine, a mom might think she needs peace from her child’s temper tantrums. That mom might need to know how to deal with the tantrums.
  • And needs a guide who understands their fears or frustrations.
  • The guide gives a plan – Your article gives them a way to fix their problem, a solution.
  • Which calls him to action – This is what your reader will do after he or she has learned how to help his situation.
  • That results in success (or failure) – The content in your article should help the reader.

This method can work for any article topic, but the more specific you make it, the better.

Let me break it down further. THE PITCH 

The first paragraph:

  • Uncover the need – what does your character need? This is a felt need, something they “think” they need. For instance, a mom might “need” more quiet time. The problem might be that her child is throwing temper tantrums too often.
  • Start with a character who has a problem (Miller’s steps 1 &2)

The second paragraph:

  • Deliver the solution.
  • Uncover the REAL need.
  • Be specific about what the reader will be able to take and apply to immediately experience victory. It has to be useful to others or forget about writing the article. Provide take-away value.

The third paragraph:

  • Promise you’ll deliver the article on time.
  • Tell them why you’re the right person to write the article.
  • Make details clear – word count, completion date, and if you’ve submitted this to other magazines too. Some magazines won’t consider your article if you have “simultaneous submissions” – if you’re pitched other magazines too.
  • Include your author credentials. What’s your brand?

If you’re not sure of your “BRAND” take a look at Michael Hyatt’s tips on How to Create a Value Proposition. He claims you need five elements. If one of these is missing, it will handicap you in a significant way. Check out his audio post HERE

The five elements:

  1. A Well-Defined Audience
  2. A Clear Value Proposition
  3. A Compelling Brand Slogan
  4. An Engaging Headshot
  5. Simple Graphic Components

To help you identify your BRAND think this way:

I am: (Identity)

I help: (audience) 

Understand or do: (unique solution)

So that: (transformation)

QUERY Letter CHECKLIST

  • Specific topic
  • Is it doable in one article?
  • Has it been covered? By Whom? Where? Give the editor this information and tell him why your article is different.
  • Include: studies, experience, experts, quotes, interviews
  • Mention if you’ve sent a simultaneous submission

 

Sample

Dear (editor’s name) 

Not long ago, my preschool child got a hold of her big sister’s favorite Peter Pan paper dolls, and for some reason, decided to flush them down the toilet. Not that they went willingly, but they were far beyond saving. Needless to say, big sister wasn’t too thrilled with the sad parting.

Though I haven’t recently lost any of my paper dolls down the potty, there are many things that I’ve had to let go of—sometimes willingly, and most often unwillingly. But it’s a fact: there are times when God’s the one asking us to give our beloved possessions or positions for something much better. The problem is, how do we, as godly women, learn to face “letting go” with maturity and hope?

In the article, “Learning to Let Go” (working title) your (magazine) readers will gain fresh insights on seasons of loss and letting go that will usher them into an even deeper spiritual life. Using humor and a light-hearted approach to a difficult topic, this article will reflect on my own experiences with letting go, and provide readers with practical advice and biblical insights to help them grow in difficult times.

 The article will be 1500 words, and can be ready by DATE for your consideration on speculation. Author is…

 

Dear Editor (sample)

Things have changed since Alex Bourke first published “Vegetarian London” in 2002. With the Olympics coming in 2012, London is scrambling to clean up its act: parks are cleaner, farmers’ markets are everywhere, and restaurants are putting more emphasis on locally sourced organic ingredients. As a result, London is better than ever for the vegetarian traveler. 

Are you interested in an updated piece on London for VegEscapes? I propose an article that covers the following:

. Picnic in the Park

. Dining on a Double-decker bus

. Market Madness

. Cycling on the Southbank

. Beer and a Curry

. Haute Veg

. Budget Lunch Break 

As a vegetarian who lives and works in London, I can provide an insider’s view on this fabulous city, including photos. You can read samples of my writing at the link below:

 

Janine Petro can be found at these sites. Stop by and say hi. Tell her if you found this helpful!

www.janinepetry.com

www.thewatermarkedlife.com

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Comments

  1. Thank you Michelle. Very informative. I have been wanting to pitch an idea to several magazines, but was reluctant to do so, for obvious reasons. This article has given me the tools necessary for my pitch.
    BTW, I still want to publish my children’s book. Have not forgotten about your sister with respect to the illustration part. I have been quite busy re-writing a few scripts. All done! Time to get back to my writing. Blessings.

  2. Hi Johnny!
    You’ve been MIA! Glad you’re still writing and working on all those projects.
    I hope your pitch works and you land the assignment!

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  1. […] If you want to pitch to magazines, read Random Writing Rants’ “How to Write a Rockin’ Pitch for Magazines, by Janine Petry.” […]

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