Monthly Archives: January 2010

Pie Charts

Finally. After weeks of broken promises and inertia on my part regarding the pie charts, they are finally here. In truth, they’re not really up to much. I got a bit carried away earlier this afternoon after hearing from my previous employers that they’ve very generously – and graciously – allowed me to keep the computer that I half-stole from them. Inspired by this and as a way of becoming more familiar with some of the programs on my new computer, I set about creating some pie charts that I hoped would give an indication of my progress so far. 

Here is the first one:

Pie Chart

Now, you’ll see that there are some problems with this. I’m not particularly happy with the visual aspect, and it doesn’t really tell the Pitching the World reader very much at all. Or perhaps it does. Perhaps it brilliantly sums up my attempts so far and the quality of this blog in general. In case you’re wondering, the “Maga” part in the key was me halfway through writing “Magazines”. I thought the key on the side might explain what the segments related to, but halfway through writing “Magazines” I realised that a pie chart might not be the best way to record my progress so far. So I gave up.

But I didn’t give up for very long. It occurred to me that a large chunk of my readership had been looking forward to these pie charts for some time and I didn’t want to let them down.

So I gave it another go:

Pie Chart 1

I felt that my second attempt at a pie chart conquered the colouring in of the segments quite effectively, but overall it lacked the edginess and character of my first attempt. Plus, I didn’t even begin to attempt some sort of key, which suggests, to me at least, that my enthusiasm for displaying my progress in the form of pie charts was waning. 

Perhaps, then, there is a better way of charting the Pitching the World experiment. I’ll get thinking. There will definitely be a progress report shortly as I’m compiling a load of information for a 2,000 word piece I’m writing for the British Journalism Review. It has to be filed by the weekend. If they’re unfortunate enough to stumble upon this post, they may rescind the commission. So, please, don’t tell them about the above. Thanks.

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Cat World

Okay, a better writer might have titled this post “Pitching the Cat World”, but I’m not that gifted. Or that corny. Actually, I am that corny. But, yes, Cat World is being pitched today. In the Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook (which continues to haunt me) I’ve written something next to the “Cat World” entry. I’ve written “Mice”. Good, isn’t it? Although in actual fact I haven’t just written “Mice”. If I had just written “Mice” I might be in with a chance of pitching something worthwhile. It could be that I knew something about mice and their relationship with those in the cat world that few other people did, and I could have pitched something to “Cat World” about some cutting edge mouse research that could have made an interesting article. Perhaps.

But I didn’t just write “Mice”. I wrote “Mice?”. As if the idea of writing something, anything, about mice for “Cat World” was a good one and warranted writing down “Mice?” next to the “Cat World” entry in the Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook. This was two months ago and I can’t say that my thinking has improved since then. Indeed, a few moments ago I was idly flipping through the W&A etc. (I say “idly flipping through” yet I was nowhere near as cool as I make out. I was going through it in a panic, wondering where my next bit of beetroot was coming from), noticed the “Cat World” entry and my spirit was immediately lifted by seeing “Mice?” next to “Cat World”. This could be something, I thought, this must have been an idea I’d had sometime ago about mice that could fit in “Cat World”. Alas, it wasn’t. I wracked my brain and remembered writing “Mice?” sometime ago and seem to remember that was all I had thought at the time. Just “Mice?”, no more.

Pitching the World is four months old and I’d be astonished if it reaches its five month anniversary. Still, I’ll keep plugging away for at least a couple more weeks. Tomorrow: Dog World.

Big Country

Today my four line wonder invaded seven countries: the Country Gentleman’s Association, Country Homes and Interiors, Country Life, Country Living, Country Smallholding, Country Walking and Countryman. In case you’re not up to speed and wondering what the hell “my four line wonder” is, then I suggest you read yesterday’s post. If you’re not up to speed and wondering if this blog gets any good: it doesn’t.

So far, only one of the countries has replied, saying that they were “always interested interested in new writers, particularly of your pedigree”. Pitchingtheworld didn’t know that he had pedigree. Out of yesterday’s batch they’ve pretty much all replied and apart from one of the kindest rejections I’ve ever received, they’ve all said that they have the budget to hire freelancers and have encouraged me to pitch more thoroughly. Because of the varying nature of the magazines – on diving, architecture, climbing, snooker, insurance etc. – I feel on the verge of cracking what I set out to do with this project when it started in late September. I think what I set out to do (I was a little heady at the time) was get published in more (and more esoteric) magazines than anyone else in the country. I also wanted to keep occupied. And learn stuff. And perhaps say something about the state of journalism. Perhaps I’m starting to do all of these things. And perhaps the state of journalism isn’t as bleak as many people seem to think it is. If one four line email (a four line wonder, if you like) sent to ten magazines can provoke eight promising leads and a relationship, however slight, with eight different editors then the future might not be so bad.

Of course the future will be so bad. The above post is quite poorly written and if I’ve ever had any writing skills then they’re clearly evaporating. It seems to be the pitchingtheworld way: get yourself into a spectacular position, and then spectacularly flap it up. Oh well.

Getting motivated

Getting motivated can be tough. You’ve seen me, you know what I’m about. I’m about dodging work and saying I’m going to do certain things and not doing them and generally not having the motivation or skills to see this project through. But I’ve undergone a bit of a sea change in my thinking and, if you had seen me earlier today, you would have seen me craft a four sentence long letter that has been sent (so far) to eight magazines. These magazines included Horse & Hound, Hortus, Housebuilder, Diver Magazine, Electrical Review and Snooker Scene. Out of the eight, two emails didn’t reach their targets, but out of the remaining six, two eds have already replied saying that they like the look of me, encouraging me to pitch more fully and giving one or two writer’s guidelines. 

God, what an arresting opening paragraph. I may well be the new Boz. But, I do have a point to make. The point, is that this morning has given me a fair amount of encouragement: if I send off my four sentence long email to another 100 places, I can expect a success rate of around 25% – perhaps a bit more. “Success rate” in this instance, meaning opening up new markets that I could potentially write for. This sliver of encouragement has also made me see the industry in a fresh light: there is a lot of work out there and some of it pays pretty well (one of the six publications is talking about 40p a word), but you have to hunt for it, and you have to be able to write a killer four sentence email. 

Now watch as I send this “killer” email to another 100 places and I’m either ignored or told to go and do something to myself. By that, I mean told to go fuck myself, but you probably didn’t need the clarification.

A Caveat

Now, yesterday when I said: “I’ll also be updating my progress daily (possibly twice daily – actually no way) from now on. This shit just got real” I meant it as a joke. Okay, I didn’t really, but in retrospect it seems a little hasty. For example, it’s now about 20 minutes away from the end of the day and I haven’t felt inclined to update anything, as there’s precious little to update. I’ve worked on features and smoked (yet not drank – a miracle) and that’s about all. Hardly worth posting then, except to keep a promise for at least one day, and also to say I will be posting more regularly but only when there’s at least a wisp of something to report. There’s no point just doing this: quoting part of yesterday’s post and then banging on about pretty much nothing.

Agreed? Good. This shit just got real again.

Holy Cow! A New Post

Holy cow indeed, and apologies for the long break. I’ve been in a funk, you see, and it was a funk that showed no signs of becoming less funky until sometime in the middle of last night when I decided, once and for all, to pull my act together and wrap this thing up. By the end of this month I’ll pitch another 300 magazines, no excuses. That, I realise, sounds ridiculous. It sounds ridiculous both because it’s a considerable amount of work (regular readers will have caught me trying to outmanoeuvre considerable amounts of work in the past), and also because pitchingtheworld so far has been littered with empty and easily broken promises.

Not this time though. No way. I’ll be tearing back into that book this afternoon and continue to tear into it until I’m done. No excuses. Well, a few excuses: I’ve got a feature to write today, and another tomorrow, and a talk to organise, and a possible gig reviewing 70 restaurants to get signed off – but then, when that’s all done, no excuses. None. Until I think up some new ones.

I’ll also be updating my progress daily (possibly twice daily – actually no way) from now on. This shit just got real.