How to Pitch an Article to Magazine Editors

To get published, you have to know how to pitch an article to the magazine’s editors! These freelance writing tips include an example of a query letter.

Freelance writing success is in the details – which is what these writing tips are all about.

Before the tips, a quip:

“The writer must believe that what he is doing is the most important thing in the world. And he must hold to this illusion even when he knows it is not true.” – John Steinbeck.

To believe in your writing, you have to believe in yourself. Your belief in your skills and writing abilities will shine through in your pitch letter — and will help the editors believe in you. To be a successful freelance writer, you must believe in yourself with all your heart…even when you don’t.

For more info on building a successful freelance writing career, read Writer for Hire: 101 Secrets to Freelance Success by Kelly James-Enger. She’s a wildly successful freelance writer and author, and you can’t afford to miss her advice!

And, here are my tips for query letters…

7 Tips for Pitching Magazine Articles to Editors

Don’t hesitate to email the editor your pitch

I only pitch my queries to magazines via email. I use my subject line to clearly explain what the email is about. So, if I was pitching an article about being a successful freelance writer, I’d put “Query: How to be a Successful Freelance Writer” in the subject line.

Remember that the length of a query letter depends

A successful query letter can be a single paragraph, or a two-page letter. It depends on the nature and scope of the article — but the bottom line is that you need to convey just the right amount of information to the editor. To pitch your freelance article successfully, you need to find the balance between inciting the editor’s curiosity and writing too much.

But, keep your pitch short and sweet (magazine editors are busy!)

Successful query letters to magazine editors are short yet well-rounded. Editors have advised me to shorten my query letters – I tend to be too detailed and long-winded. One editor said that long query letters are less likely to get passed from editor to editor.

Show you have access to sources or experts

Give the names, locations, and credentials of the sources you’ll interview for your article. To successfully pitch your freelance articles to magazines, don’t promise experts or sources that you can’t deliver!

Describe the scope and structure of your article

Is this a how-to article, a service piece, or a round-up of health tips? Will you include anecdotes or scientific research – or a mixture of both? If you want to sell what you write, you need to be clear about the article. For more info on the types of articles, read Types of Feature Articles to Write for Magazines.

Explain why people would want to read your article

To pitch your freelance article to a magazine successfully, highlight the benefit to readers. Will they improve their lives, escape from reality, or learn how to build a deck? Make sure the reader benefit is clear.

Include an eye-catching, descriptive title in your pitch

Titles and subtitles can be time-consuming and difficult to write, but they can sell your article. To sell what you write, take the time to create a title that hooks the editor’s attention and makes him or her curious!

Here’s an example of a query letter from the Freelance Success Book:

“Dear  (magazine editor),

Several of your recent ‘Scuba Law’ columns have focused on the legal obligations of dive operators. As a divemaster and lawyer I see something just as bad every weekend: Divers who have no idea that agreeing to be a dive buddy implies serious legal risks. I want to write a 750-word article for your ‘Scuba Law’ department that details for divers what those risks are and how they can be managed.


John Doe”

See how simple and effective successful query letters can be?

For more freelance writing tips, read Writing as a Career – Who Else Wants to Get Paid for Writing?

Do you have any thoughts on these tips for pitching freelance articles to magazines?  I welcome your comments below…

Before You Go...

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Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen
I'm a writer and blogger in Vancouver, BC. I created the "Quips and Tips" blog series; my degrees are in Education, Psychology, and Social Work. My blogs have been my primary source of income since 2008 - which means I'm living proof that you CAN make money as a writer! Don't give up. Have faith, and trust that with God you can do anything.

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6 Responses

  1. Hi Laurie,
    Well, I don’t think I can do what John Steinbeck says :S Whenever I read any of my write-up, I feel it’s not up to the mark and I always make several changes. Even though I always get a better-than-expected response from my clients and they keep coming back! I don’t know how to overcome this.

  2. Thanks, Rebecca….

    And, I think submitting an article’s word count helps with writing and envisioning the article. It also helps keep writers accountable, I think.

    Once you have a “formula” for pitching your articles ot editors, it’s much easier!
    .-= Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen´s last blog post ..Writing for Online Magazines – How to Find Work on the Web =-.

  3. Rebecca says:

    I submitted pitches, but I didn’t include the word count because the publications specified the number of words they expect. Now I know to include the word count if the publication doesn’t specify a word count. Thanks for the FYI!
    .-= Rebecca´s last blog post ..What is the Right Number of Pages for an eBook? =-.

  1. April 13, 2010

    […] 7 Tips for Pitching Your Freelance Articles to Magazines […]

  2. June 27, 2010

    […] great story idea can trump experience. New magazine writers with compelling, timely ideas will win feature article assignments! So, don’t think you need years of experience when you’re writing for […]

  3. September 24, 2010

    […] using the advice from some particularly well-known freelance websites (Freelance Switch, The Adventurous Writer + again) and by digging-up some of my more successful early pitches, I am going to re-pitch some of […]

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