Every writer, editor and pitch is different, but over the years we’ve noticed a few key elements that we think make a strong pitch. We know writing your first (or hundredth!) pitch can be daunting, so we’ve put together the tips below to help you put your best foot forward when pitching to KYD or any other magazine.
What we’re interested in
Kill Your Darlings publishes commentary, essays, memoir, reviews and interviews online, with a particular interest in writing on culture, politics and society with a personal, accessible approach. You’ll find more information on what we’re looking for at the Write for KYD page.
Before you pitch
Before you pitch to us there a few things you need to consider…
Are pitches open?
KYD opens pitch submissions at various times throughout the year. Make sure to check our Write for KYD page to see if pitches are open. To stay updated on submission dates you can subscribe to our enews or follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Please do not pitch to editors outside of work channels (i.e. Instagram DMs) and/or outside of when we’re accepting pitches. If we’re closed to pitches, it typically means that we have no room in our publishing schedule to take on more pieces—even if we liked your pitch, we wouldn’t have room to publish it.
Is your pitch the right fit?
It’s important to find the right home for your piece and make sure you’re tailoring your pitch to the publication you’re pitching to. Even a good pitch might be rejected simply because it’s not quite the right fit for the outlet. This is why it’s so important to make sure you read the magazine before you pitch.
To check if your piece is the right fit, think through the following questions:
• Does the magazine publish the kind of piece you’re considering pitching? I.e. pitching a news article to an outlet that focuses on criticism is not the best use of your time!
• Does it suit the magazine’s tone? Is the tone of your proposed piece suitable for the publication? Does it fit with the tone of writing that has already been published in the magazine?
• Is it the right length/scope? Make sure the scope of your proposed piece fits what is usually published by the magazine. Pitching a piece that’s 8000 words to a magazine that only publishes pieces around 2000 words is unlikely to be successful.
• Has the magazine recently published a similar piece? If a piece on the same topic has been published recently, then the editor is unlikely to pick up another one that covers similar ground. Think about what makes your piece different and focus on that, or, if it’s not time-sensitive, consider holding off on pitching until more time has passed.
Writing the pitch
One of the most important things to consider while pitching an article or story is why people should care about it. Try to keep these questions at the front of your mind while you’re writing your pitch:
• Why do you care about the topic? Why are you the best person to write this piece right now?
• Who should the editor care about it? Why is it a good fit for the magazine?
• Why should readers care about it? What questions or insights are you wanting to convey?
What to include in your pitch
Make sure you include the following in your pitch:
• Subject line/proposed heading. Your subject line should be engaging and to the point. It needs to communicate quickly what the piece is about and hook the editor into wanting to know more.
• Your topic and argument. Make it clear from the start what the topic of your piece is and what you’re saying about it. Remember, a topic or idea alone doesn’t make a good pitch. You have to include a story or angle. What are you saying? What unique insight will your piece reveal about the topic?
• Why this piece? Why you? Why are you the best person to write this piece? Why is it a good fit for the magazine? Why is now the best time to publish it?
• Suggested word count and timeframe. Let the editor know how long the piece will be and how quickly you can turn it around.
• Relevant author bio. If possible, also include links to your other published works, particularly ones with a similar style to what you’re pitching. If you haven’t published a piece before you can include a short sample of your writing style.
What NOT to do
Editors receive a huge number of pitches and they have to make decisions quickly. You want to put your best foot forward and make the editor’s job as easy as possible. To do that, here are some things that you should avoid doing in your pitch:
• Not adhering to submission guidelines. Don’t assume the submission guidelines don’t apply to you. They’re there to make the process easier for everyone, not to trip you up.
• Taking too long to get the point. Editors want to get to the nuts and bolts of your pitch as soon as possible. If your pitch quickly and coherently conveys your idea, then the editor is likely to have confidence your piece will do the same.
• Apologising or underselling your work. If you don’t believe that your piece is worthwhile, why would an editor?
• Typos and unpolished writing. Make sure to proofread and polish your pitch before sending it.
Should you write the piece before you pitch?
Whether or not your write the piece before you pitch depends largely on the kind of piece it is.
• Fiction is written before you submit and included in your submission.
• Commentary and cultural criticism generally isn’t written before the pitch. However, you should have a rough outline and an idea of how you want to structure the piece.
• Memoir and personal essay is a bit of a grey area. Sometimes it’s written before the pitch and sometimes it’s not. If you have already written it, make sure to flag that to the editor in your pitch.
Remember that editors receive a lot of submissions, so it can take a while to get back to you. But if you don’t hear back within the specified timeframe, it’s perfectly okay to send a follow up email.
It’s also okay to pitch around to multiple outlets. Just make sure to flag it in your pitch letter and remember to withdraw the piece and let the editor know if your pitch is accepted elsewhere.
Many magazines simply don’t have the time or resources to provide detailed feedback to every pitch or submission. Just remember that if your pitch is rejected, it doesn’t necessarily mean that your idea or your pitch is bad. There are many reasons a pitch might not be successful. Maybe something on a similar topic is already in the works, maybe there isn’t room in the schedule or budget, or maybe the piece sounds great, but it would be better suited to a different publication.
Don’t be disheartened by rejections! Even if one pitch doesn’t find a home, it doesn’t mean your next one won’t.
Check out our Write for KYD page for information on current opportunities.