The Loneliness of the Long Distance Pitcher: Updated

God, freelance journalism can be a lonely beast. You probably think that I like that. You’ve seen me, seen that I’m a lonely beast, and thought that I’m well-suited to a job that is also a lonely beast. You’ve definitely thought that, haven’t you? It’s okay, you can tell me, I don’t mind. Well, if you were to tell me that you’d thought that, you’d only be half right. Sure, I do like to suffocate in my self-imposed isolation now and again, but I also like to get out and do things. What things, I don’t know. Drink, perhaps. Meet people, sometimes. Bark and curse at the clouds, always.

Anyway, we’re getting away from the point. The point is that it’s often a lonely life and I’ve been thinking about making it less lonely. It’s also a life where you grow to despise everything about the sending and receiving of emails, and I’ve been thinking about making a change there, too. With those things in mind, earlier this afternoon I wrote to seven or eight editors and features editors of magazines asking to meet me in person to pitch, rather than going through the whole character-draining process through email. Here’s what I wrote:

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

To: Seven or Eight Eds and Features Eds

From: Pitching the World

Subject: This email is not from Friends Reunited

Dear Ed,

This email may not be pretty. For a start, I’ve grown to hate emails: far too much of my time is taken up writing, sending, receiving, reading, replying to and waiting for emails (I realise there’s some overlap there, and some things that don’t really ring true. Does receiving an email take time, for instance?) and most of that time is spent in abject disappointment, if not abject terror. This is a problem. It is a problem because I am trying to pitch feature ideas to all of the 642 magazines listed in the Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook for a book about journalism that I am working on, and the main method of communicating with editors is through email. 

That’s enough about emails though, isn’t it? Yes, more than enough. What I’d like to suggest is meeting you in person to pitch one or two feature ideas, rather than do it through email. I understand that may sound entirely bold and ridiculous, but if you had to pitch 642 magazines for a bone-headed project, you’d probably sound entirely bold and ridiculous too. What are my chances, though? Are you receptive to meeting journalists face-to-face? I promise not to take up too much of your time and I’ll come armed with ideas. I’ve worked for perhaps twenty editors in my time as a freelancer and of the three I’ve met in person – Martin Deeson at Square Mile/Hedge; Joe Barnes now at FHM; and Ryan Debique of a now defunct property magazine – I’ve gone on to do a fair amount of work for them over the years. 

I look forward to refreshing my email 80 times this afternoon and being disappointed when the only emails I receive are from Friends Reunited, Firezza and National Express Coaches respectively. 

Seriously though, all the best and it would be lovely to hear from you. Perhaps unsurprisingly, I’m free to meet all next week. 

Steve

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Did you notice my hilarious subject line? I did, and found it hilarious. The rest – well, perfunctory comes to mind. But fuck it. You know, in another way, fuck it. I’ve been thinking a lot recently about how I tend to offer very slender advice about actual journalism and pitching and saw this letter as going some way towards rectifying that. It’s something that not often comes up: HOW to pitch to editors. Most freelancers just email. Few phone. Fewer still write ever-so-slightly withering emails asking to meet and pitch in person.

Worth a shot, though. Within seconds of pinging that email off to Gay Times, I got the following response.

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To: Pitching the World

From: Darren Scott, Editor.

Subject: This email is not from Friends Reunited

Fine, come in next Friday then. The coffee here is crap, just to warn you.

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

So fine, I will go in next Friday, then. And although I’m not yet armed with ideas, I will be by the time I’m drinking crap coffee with Darren.

What else has happened? Let me tell you in a bit, but let’s break things up with a picture of a cup of coffee. No, actually, with a picture of someone picking some coffee beans.

Coffee, earlier.

I actually plumped for a cup of coffee in the end. Partly it was a stalling tactic. Darren, I’m afraid, is the only editor to have replied to me so far. This is the thing with emails – or, at least, the thing with my emails – unless something happens more or less immediately, I think it never will. This is because it never will.

More editors will reply though, just you watch. There will certainly be an adjunct to this post. If any editors or similar happen to be reading this nonsense and want me to pitch in person, then please get in touch at pitchingtheworld*at*hotmail.com. We could even go for lunch. I’ll pay. I better warn you though, I like to pay alone while you’re hanging around outside for me, and I like to go for a run down the street after paying. Just so you know.

ADJUNCT. Who doesn’t love an adjunct? No one, that’s who. I’ve just received this. This has made me not want to give up. In fact, I feel pitching in the flesh is not only the right path to take, but it’s the only path to take.

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

To: Pitching the World

From: Redacted

Subject: This email is not from Friends Reunited

Hello mate

Sorry for the delay. I am basically as crap as you are (no offence) so please don’t, er, take offence. (Not a great sentence.)
So listen. I’m only here at [Redacted] for another seven weeks or so… But listen: if you want to meet up for a drink then totally. I’ll even buy you one.
But do pitch stuff – it’s just… well, have you seen the mag recently? It’s all a bit fashion and stuff…
Um. But yes to beer, basically.
Here endeth the worst email ever written.
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18 responses to “The Loneliness of the Long Distance Pitcher: Updated

  1. Johnny Fakename

    “unless something happens more or less immediately, I think it never will. This is because it never will.”

    You are so right, these fucking editors literally sitting in their literal ivory towers not replying to my emails. They know a 2,000 word feature on plug sockets would be great yet they never even fucking respond.

    Even if they replied with “sounds shit, mate, fuck off and don’t email me again” at least I’d have closure. I’m just sat here on literal tenterhooks every single day, and I don’t even know what a tenterhook is.

    I’m so fucking paranoid I won’t even send emails after 4pm in case the editor has gone home early for some alcohol and cocaine and misses them the next morning.

    • Hi Johnny Fakename, Dirk Longthrobber here, I’m editor of Sockets an’ Stuff and I’m fucked if I know anything new on “plug sockets” that I can include this month.
      December’s issue carried a two page picture with the words “Stick One in the Other, Dummy”
      So I’d be interested to see how the fuck you can stretch to 2,000 words on the subject.
      Interestingly I’m involved with another monthly – Hooks are Good. Perhaps you could rustle up 2,000 words having looked up ‘tenter’

    • I very much liked the tenterhook bit. I imagine I’ll steal that at some point and use it as my own. Thanks.

  2. Good luck! Love reading your blog.

  3. I laughed a lot reading this today. And considering I just had to clear up half-eaten cat shit (half eaten by the dog) from the living room carpet, that is some achievement. I particularly liked this bit: “Perhaps unsurprisingly, I’m free to meet all next week.” Snort.

    • You laughed ‘a lot’ Lucy? Thank you. You’ve no idea how happy this makes me. And, simultaneously, how depressed it makes me. I didn’t mean that last bit. In fact, you’d really have to drag some sense out of it. I’ve no idea where this comment in reply to your comment is going. Half eaten cat shit though? It’s a cruel world.

  4. I thought your email might be a bit long – or at least a bit slow-started. But I’ve glazed over because I’ve been in an office all day by myself, doing displacement activities rather than pitching features. So I could just be jealous that you actually sent an email.

    • Yeah, well, that’s just like your opinion man. I’m having to quote the Big Lebowski in my retorts now because I’ve got nothing. Nothing. But you’re perhaps right, it is a little meandering. Also: You’re in an OFFICE pitching features/doing displacement activities? I wish I had an office. If I had an office everything would be okay forever.

  5. I loved the bit about paying for lunch. Can you take me for lunch PTW, and we’ll race each other down Lamb’s Conduit Street as a sort of digestif x

  6. And a little cafe in the Royal Arcade….
    Oh, they were the days!

  7. Pitchboy, Dirk Longthrobber was a character I adopted when messaging a buddy of mine, he was Vince Shaftberry, while we served Her Majesty in the land of the Hun.
    In those long-ago days, I imagine you were nowt but a lad at the time, he and I were teaching British hordes how best to hold off Russian hordes and amused ourselves – or giggled childishly – by concocting the adventures of a pair of incompetent smoothies on government service
    We planned to write massive volumes and make loads of dosh. Sadly, I’m poor and the Longthrobber/Shaftberry partnership is a dim memory.
    When recently it seemed you might write for Commando it crossed my mind that the two could be resurrected.
    But no . . . they were last heard of contravening Queens Regulations for the Army by entering an Officers Mess in North Germany dressed as a Frogman and Angry of Mayfair

  8. PTW, Won’t the editors be confused that you accidently signed your name “Steve” instead of Pitchy?

  9. Have you given any thought to what you might wear when you pitch in the flesh? Those last four words sound unintentionally sordid, soz. But have you? You know…considered your wardrobe options?

  10. We love Dazza. When you get in there please (with an expectant/edgy look on your face) break into a ‘Vanilla ice ice baby’ when offered the crap coffee. May as well. Then report back.

  11. Thank you very much everyone. I appreciate it. No, I haven’t considered what I’m going to wear. I have four good coats, but nothing else I own is any good. Today’s (barely literate and sometimes amusing) search engine terms:

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