A freelancer is always pitching stories or he’ll be out of business. Or, he’ll slide into a business he really doesn’t want to be in.
Pitching stories is actually a lot of fun. It can be stimulating on many levels. One part Sherlock Holmes, one part Stephen King, two parts Home Shopping Network spokesperson.
First you need the idea.
Sometimes that’s the hard part. Sometimes the idea hits you in the shower. Sometimes your wife emails it to you.
I get mine from the local store.
Anyway, the idea is not the pitch. The idea is just an idea. The Pitch is something way more advanced. The Pitch is what makes you a freelancer. Anybody can have ideas (don’t get any now), but not anybody can sell them to the magazine of his choice.
See, that’s the key. You choose the magazine. You’re in control. It may not always feel like that, and every assignment feels like a gift from heaven, but it’s not. You make it happen.
So, I was working on a pitch last night. I think it’s a great idea, I think the magazine I chose would be a perfect fit, the readers would love the story, it’d be a great story to report and write, and it might bring me the Pulitzer Prize. (But I don’t usually say this in the pitch, I let the editors think they came up with that idea.)
I spent about two hours honing the pitch (sell! sell! sell!), drove to a hockey game to see I came an hour too late, drove back home and spent another two hours to find the right contacts at the magazine, and away it went.
Now I wait.
And you know the Tom Petty song: The waiting is the hardest part.