Success! How to send the same letter to the likes of The Oldie, Your Cat, Yoga & Health, New Humanist, Prospect, Erotic Review and loads of others and get commissioned. Sort of.

So, on Tuesday evening after a gloriously upbeat supper (a Kinder Egg with a whisky chaser, if you’re at all interested) I decided to send an identical email to 50 publications. I’ve run out of steam, you see, and didn’t have the stomach to pitch actual thought-out ideas. I realise this is not good. Anyway, here’s the letter:

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

To: Loads

From: Pitching the World

Subject: Belief

Dear Editorial,

I am in the process of trying to write features for all 642 magazines listed in the 2010 edition of the Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook. Among those 642 magazines is yours. This ridiculous process began back in 2009 (for a while I called it a ‘project’ but I’ve given up on that now) after I had quit my job as a political speechwriter.

Now, if you consider my decision to quit my job as a political speechwriter and return to journalism to be a terrible one – and you’d be right to – my idea of writing for 642 magazines is even worse.

You should see me now, almost two years down the line. When I began, I was living with my neuroscientist wife in Stoke Newington. Now I’m getting divorced and live in my Nan’s dining room in Boscombe. Before I had hair, lots of it, and it wasn’t grey. Now I have little hair, and it is grey – white, even. I had money and shoes and confidence. Now, well I suppose I don’t have to spell it out, but now I have none of those things. What do I have? I have night terrors, addictions and crumbling self-esteem. Oh, and belief. I still have a sliver or two of belief.

After describing myself in such thrilling detail it seems a little ridiculous to say that I’d like to write for you. But I would. I’m in a hole you see, and it’s a hole I’d like to get out of. Are you farming work out to freelancers at the moment? I’ve written hundreds of pieces over the years for the Guardian, the Independent, Square Mile, Square Meal, the British Journalism Review, Business Destinations and plenty more. I reckon I could write a nice feature for you. Or a mini-feature. Or an opinion piece. Anything really. A paragraph? Do you need any paragraphs writing?

What are my chances? Slim? None? Reasonable? Please leave me alone?

Splendid clippings available on request.

I look forward to hearing from you.

With best wishes,

Pitching the World

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

Now, that’s not the sort of letter established or prospective journalists should be sending out. Go on a course called How to be a Journalist and you will be told to do the opposite of what I’ve done in that letter. For a start, it isn’t in any way tailored. I’ve sent it to generic email addresses (editorial@wherever.com) and haven’t addressed anyone specifically, simply plumping for “Dear Editorial”. This, apparently, is not good. I’ve no clear ideas of what I want to be writing about – in fact no idea at all. I point out that I don’t have shoes, money, confidence and that I live in my Nan’s dining room. I say that I have night terrors and addicti – fuck it, you’ve read the letter already, you don’t need me going over it again. You get the point, I hope, that perhaps it’s not a very good way of trying to go about getting work.

Well – and perhaps one or two of you have seen this coming – you’d be wrong. Check this out, my first reply and from the Senior and Online Editor of Prospect, one of the finest magazines in the world:

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

To: Pitching the World

From: Mary Fitzgerald

Subject: Belief

Hello Steve,

What an undertaking. I can’t promise we can help, but let’s try.

A few questions: how many of the 642 have you written for thus far? Does online count? Is there anything in particular you’d like to pitch? And do you think there’s anything you’d be able to fashion into an item for our diary section?

Very best,

Mary

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

Well. Well well well. That’s probably a one-off though you turd, I thought to myself, an anomaly. Yeah? Well anomalise this:

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

From: Caspar Melville, Editor New Humanist

To: Pitching the World

Subject: Belief

Well Steve what can I say? If I say no I’m dooming your project to failure, if I say yes I’m fuelling your self-delusion and making it more likely that you will write a book about it all and get rich and famous and find a new wife and be able to afford a Rooney-style weave-on.

So it’s a dilemma. You can evidently write and are funny.. so find something relevant to New Humanist- work that pitch babee

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

And then this:

From: Jamie Melville

To: Pitching the World

Subject: Belief

Hi Steve

Thanks for your letter.

Sadly we are no longer commissioning new writers for paid work. We do accept some unpaid submissions, however. Having said this I’m not sure how keen you are to write articles about sex, gender (rather than party) politics and erotica, gratis, for the doubtful kudos of being published in ER.

Try us in a couple of years, when the recession may be almost over and writing for our esteemed organ might just be a little more remunerative.

Kind regards,

Jamie

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

And this, from the Oldie this morning:

Dear Steve,
We do accept freelance submissions for Modern Life, Olden Life, Rants and World’s Worst Dumps, as well as features. Please do send submissions to jeremylewis@theoldie.co.uk and note that we do not commission, all articles are done on spec.
Very best wishes,
Claire

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

And I’ve also been commissioned by Yoga & Health to write a piece on meditation (can someone please tell me something about meditation), and encouraged to pitch Your Cat with ideas and have even began some sort of correspondence with the people hanging out over at Practical Boat Owner.

The lesson? The lesson is do what you feel, fuck around, be honest and everything will be okay.

Here’s a reply from a Christian magazine:

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

From: Russ Bravo

To: Pitching the World

Subject: Belief

Sorry, Steven – I’d like to help but …

1 I have practically no budget for freelance articles
2 I do respond better to pitches that know who the editor is, and what our magazine is about – blanket e-mails aren’t great, really

3 Looking at your blog, I’m not sure your style is exactly nailed on for a middle aged readership of committed Christians

Hope you get some joy elsewhere though

all the best

Russ Bravo

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

25 responses to “Success! How to send the same letter to the likes of The Oldie, Your Cat, Yoga & Health, New Humanist, Prospect, Erotic Review and loads of others and get commissioned. Sort of.

  1. I know he’ll forgive me for this, but, fuck Russ Bravo!

    My Mum is a middle-aged commited Christian and she loves this shit so, Russ, try taking a leaf out of Pitchy’s book, and step outside your comfort zone!

  2. L – That comment’s got me in bits. You are one funny fucker.
    Dan Murdoch – Thanks man.

  3. I’m taking ‘do what you feel, fuck around, be honest and everything will be okay’ as my personal life motto from now on. So see you in the park with the cans eh? I’ll bring a creme egg if I’m feeling flush.

    Honesty is the best policy: who’d have thunk it?

  4. Indeed Lee – and who would have thought that my dispensing of advice would be taken so enthusiastically? Not me. See you in the park.

  5. I can tell you all about Yoga, Pitchboy, it’s when you sit on the floor and hum. . .even without music

  6. Really Old Bloke? Blimey. Are you allowed to smoke?

  7. What was in the kinder egg?

  8. Good question Ryan. A kind of inflatable rabbit thing. Pretty scary, as it happens. I’ve missed you dude, but suspect I’ll be seeing you soon. I know, I know: that’s fast becoming my (unimpressive) catchphrase.

  9. Well fucking done! (Apologies for the exclamation mark – but I think this one is warranted.)
    Mya x

    Put a Kinder Goose on your shopping list.

  10. Fucking thanks Mya! (That one was warranted, too.)

  11. You are my hero.

  12. I’m flattered, thanks Rebecca.
    Today’s search terms:

    pitching the world
    crack house
    fuck memory
    pitvhig world
    is he going commando photos
    pitching the woirlkd
    write for the people’s friend
    frank mcgrath forearm
    pitching the world pub car park
    best fucking ideas

  13. pitvhig world

    pitching the woirlkd

    These two were definitely me!

  14. L – I wouldn’t have expected anything else. The standout search engine term today was:
    fuckingsee österreich
    Any ideas?

  15. Can I volunteer to beat Mr Russ Bravo up? He’s not being very Christian is he?

  16. Ohh I do think sixhands should beat Russ Bravo up, not for his rejection of PTW but for his name. How the hell did he survive school? first kiss etc etc. Every time he stood up in assembly when his name was called did people clap? I bet he has Spiderman PJ’s. Russ if you are reading this, can you answer these questions please? Amen.

  17. Btw I didn’t use the word ‘hell’ in the above comment to make a point. It was accidental.

  18. Bravo, Marge. Or Marge Bravo? No: Bravo, Marge.

  19. cool – thaks pitchyfuck, there is nothing like getting the clap.

  20. This is great. I read this aloud to somebody and their cat.

  21. How wonderful – hope they and their cat enjoyed it.

  22. I kind of wish you hadn’t already done this ’cause I kind of want to do it. I would love to write for Oldie and The New Humanist.

  23. Do it then Stephanie D. I reckon you’ve got it in you. It’ll make you go bald and mad and alcoholic though so, you know, watch out for that.

  24. WTF why has this arrived in my inbox? StephDeee chill with the tits and the specs and write good snuff.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s