When I was a magazine editor, I wondered why freelance writers couldn’t figure out what I wanted. I rejected 95 percent of pitches.
Now that I’m on the other side, I see how difficult it is when you’re an independent writer, on the outside looking in.
At the recent Book Passage conference on Travel, Photography and Food Writing, food writer Cheryl Sternman Rule spoke about why pitching to publications is such an anxiety-producing process. What she said resonated with me, so I asked her to share it:
“As a freelancer since 2004, I’ve spent years both pitching and avoiding pitching,” explains Cheryl. “For me, pitching seems like a dark art. There’s black magic about it that often makes me feel like I’m throwing darts in the dark.
“Editors have editorial calendars, or ideas in their heads for what they’d like to cover. We writers are not often privy to this information. So we shoot story ideas out like darts and hope they’ll hit some mysterious, shrouded target. It’s a tough game to play, psychologically.”
That’s exactly right. You keep throwing until you strike the target, even when you get no feedback. You need a thick skin to be a freelance writer, not to mention an ability to see in the dark.