Freelance writers: Pitch your editors those fastballs, not curveballs

I used to be a pitcher for an afterschool rec league when I was 17, a position that always spoke to me. I could dictate the next at-bat, based on what I threw. Maybe I could throw off the batter with a change-up or curveball, or maybe I’d rely heavily on a fastball to get those strikes. I always saw pitching as a battle for rhythm because I wanted to get in a good groove with my pitches, and I tried to disrupt the rhythm of the batter who tried to predict what I was going to throw.

In freelance writing, I have to ensure my pitches to editors are fastballs. They hit the strike zone fast, or they come in so hot they’re hard to ignore. Curveballs have their place, sure, but in freelance journalism, you don’t want to pitch to be confusing to your editor to throw them off the rhythm of what you’re trying to convey.

Great pitches are all about clarity, from showing a clear theme to the story you want to write to being upfront about who you’ll interview and why. That’s a fastball: no messing around, nothing frilly or fancy. I’ve come across pitches, when I edited Digital Journal and B2B News Network, that told me the writer didn’t understand our goal as an outlet. Either they rarely read the news network or just copied-and-pasted this pitch from one editor to the next. That’s lazy and embarrassing.

Run your fingers over the seams and give us a big kick (aka the intro) and pitch an editor your strongest fastball pitch, complete with thorough research and engaging quotes and relevant portfolio clips. If you explain why this idea is important to the outlet’s readers, and convey that urgency with a pithy but powerful page-long pitch, you just might get that much-needed strike (aka acceptance email) that will have you inspired to take the mound again and again and again.

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David Silverberg

Freelance journalist. Editor. Writing coach. I blog about how to earn more and level up your skills as a freelance writer.