Swill

If you’ve come here to read about a massive fuck-up pitching magazines, then look away now. I’m becoming less of a fuck-up by the second and, for the time being at least, have stopped pitching magazines. I’ve stopped pitching magazines not, as some of you might suspect, because I don’t have the stomach or the inclination, but because my dog eared copy of the Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook is in London, and I’m down here, in Shitmouth.

That is the only reason: the absence of a book. Not the absence of ideas, nor the absence of enthusiasm, but the absence of the Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook. Those of you who have witnessed me fumble around and fuck-up over the last ten months or so will know that when I’ve got the Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook by my side I’m unstoppable. I’m a machine.

Now, I’m well aware that a lack of copy from Pitching the World could well throw the publishing industry into a funk from which it never recovers so with that in mind I’ve decided to direct my efforts towards the swill that is British Newspapers. Yes, I thought this morning, why not give newspapers the privilege of rejecting my ideas time and bastard time again rather just magazines? Why not spread it around a bit?

I’ve written for newspapers before of course. Oh, of course. I’ve written for The Guardian (three times), The Independent (once), The Daily Mail (twice) and the News of the World (once). A paltry amount, but if you were ever unfortunate to hear me talking about my ‘career’, you would think that I was far more prolific. When people ask me what I do and who I write for I tell them: ‘Oh, you know, I write for The Guardian [the last time was in January this year, the time before that in June 2008], The Independent [one feature in spring 2007], The Daily Mail [one feature I wrote for The Guardian which was bought by the Mail in June 2008, another late last year that was originally a 2,000 piece that they cut down to 400 words] and, well, sometimes the News of the World [not even really true this one. One feature for the News of the World’s Fabulous magazine which hasn’t run yet]. But most of my stuff is for magazines [this bit it true. It needs to be].

But I’d like to write more for newspapers. And it is possible for me to write more for newspapers, clearly I haven’t really written that much for newspapers. This week then, I’ll be pitching at least one newspaper per day, starting tomorrow of course. And, from tomorrow, I’ll be putting up a pitch a day until Friday. No more talk (for a bit), about going bald and mad or about beetroot or ballooning alcoholism or the time (yesterday) when I listened to Clair de Lune and fell to bits. Instead, just pitches with no fluff. And if I don’t do this – and there’s definitely no way that I won’t do this – then on Friday I will take Pitching the World down, never write another entry, and go and work on the bins for the next decade or two. This, it seems, is what it has come down to.

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8 responses to “Swill

  1. Why is it that ‘tomorrow’ seems to be a freelancer’s favourite day of the week? These days tomorrow’s my best mate.

  2. Hello,

    Got linked here from the somewhat humorous fake Twitter page for Paul Dacre (pauldacre).

    General rule after a successful pitch to anywhere is to ask for the money in advance. This can be hard if you’re an unknown quantity so it might be good to link to blog material or work you’ve done in the past for legitimacy’s sake.

    Just because a paper or mag is big and reputable doesn’t mean they won’t screw you out of money trying to get a free lunch off your material. Seen it happen far too many times, and I actually decided to make an exception for a charity I did a piece for – the £150 I was promised for my work has not materialized despite chasing up and being promised in late June I’d be paid.

    So yes, even ‘moral’ places can screw you over – you have to make the stipulation of advance payment anywhere to minimize risk; people who refuse that arrangement after having seen past work are downright morons.

    Don’t do a toss beyond pitching until the money is deposited in your bank.

    -Pete, editor at dirtygarnet.com

  3. Ignore Pete. Nobody pays in advance. And any journalist who asked to be paid in advance would be laughed off the phone in any of the newspaper or magazine offices I’ve worked in.

  4. You’re right Dom. I’ve only been paid once in advance, and that was after being paid late 20 months in a row for a column I used to write. I insisted I got paid before filing and got the cash but felt like an awful prick. So yes, a rarity.

  5. Are people on contract to provision work on for instance a monthly basis included in that sweeping generalization of yours? How about former salaried employees who are now (eg.) freelancing and teaching about media?

    Sorry Dom but you can’t tar the entire market with all-or-nothing tripe like ‘any journalist’ and ‘nobody’ – you probably haven’t made many friends in offices willing to pay at least partly in advance to cover costs. It’s called ‘trust’, and it tends to build slowly over a long time, but then again are you mostly officebound or what? Couldn’t decipher your vagueness.

    Try giving examples of ur workplaces and a bit of elaboration next time. Hard to tell ‘Dom’ isn’t a simple troll. Try a surname? Website? E-mail?

    If you do do work and profess enough conceit to make pithy comment then you’d think your supposedly weathered, workhorse self would do what many journos do online now in having a presence.

    Consider the notion that your single pair of eyes in an industry which employs many thousands of people can’t possibly encapsulate every freelancer’s experiences in a three-line post.

    -Pete, editor at dirtygarnet.com

  6. Gosh Pete, you do know some big words!

    And at the risk of getting into a willy-waving contest, I’ve been a freelance journalist for 10 years, during which time I’ve written for all the national dailies, three of the sundays, plus too many magazines to mention. I’ve mostly worked from home, pitching in much the same manner (though far less entertainingly) as our mutual friend here – though I have also worked shifts in no less than eight newspaper and magazine offices.

    And I have never heard of any freelancer being paid in advance.

    Do you pay in advance, Pete? Because if you do I have at least 20 cracking ideas for which I’d love the money upfront…

  7. Bit hard taking those abundant credentials at face value but nevermind…Even pitchingtheworld acknowledged it was rare but possible.

    You say ‘worked from home’ – are you a shooter or…? Spec is commoner today than ever, but it is still possible to be paid at least partly in advance. You can’t just bring the gavel down in a blanket judgement that nobody anywhere is paid in advance. Because it isn’t true.

    Pitchingtheworld, why ‘feel like a prick’ over it? If you were a shop that was selling something to go in the post to a customer you’d be better thinking of them as the prick for moaning over what you know would be a good end product.

    Dom I can post you a free T-shirt for a quick guest blog on the site I edit. Choice of sizes and colours available: http://www.dirtygarnet.com/?p=171 – there’s yesterday’s topic on the matter. Great as a substitute mop-up kitchen cloth if you don’t fancy being a walking promo for the site; yes I am serious.

    One of the reasons spec work is so common and advance/partial advance rare is the PA wire vigil officebound culture that prevails now as opposed to in decades past. Harder to make friends with people in what (for lack of a better term) is a ‘corporate’ atmosphere with less informality and opportunity for meeting sub/editors etc.

    I hear newspaper offices going on supermarket online delivery is becoming somewhat commoner. What other trade has online grocery shopping as a crutch? Slowly sinking ship anyway, as the insane pressure over time pigheadedness just to produce crap that’s appearing in half a dozen other places minimum.

    This recession probably isn’t the killing blow, but a couple more in tandem with continued Internet growth could be. Editorial activity is a net loss year on year; staff, resources, time are vacuumed out steadily. These aren’t the sort of people who pay up fast even half the time; and firm, fast polite (eg) 30 day invoices and a professional face often is the comprimise. But it can still happen.

    -Pete, editor at dirtygarnet.com

  8. P.S. Apologies for sounding like a prat earlier; I’d had little sleep and was eating some of that Warburton’s toastie type bread for breakfast when a piece scraped the top-layer of gum off the roof of my mouth – right stinging pisser.

    I migrate over to some sodding toast because I got the very same thing with rice crispies and other cereals in years gone by. Can’t win unless you go for a fatty full English…Hobson’s choice.

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