The Art of the Pitch - advice thread and workshop


#1

I’ve been writing about games for a while now, but just for a site I run with friends here.

That being said, I want to start the hunt of pitching to outlets. I’ve sent a few out, but have never heard back. While I don’t take it personally by any means, editors are inundated by pitches every day, it’s something I want to learn how to do better. So here’s an open forum for prospective freelancers, and people that have been published, to help each other. A few questions to kick it off:

  • After sending a pitch, what is an appropriate amount of time to wait to send it to another outlet, or use on your own blog? I would assume it’s courteous to shoot a message in-line with the original pitch email to notify them that you’re doing so.

  • In your experience, is it better to start small? Would a site like Waypoint, for example, only take seriously those that have been published elsewhere?

  • Aside from following pitch guidelines per the outlet (pitch deck, deadline, etc.) are there any other useful tips?

  • Would anybody who’s been published be up to critique a pitch I’ve sent in the past if I DM it to you?

Thanks ahead!


#2

Hey, looks like someone should get the ball rolling on this thread! :slight_smile: I’ve never been published by a video game website, but my work has been published in a number of major outlets and I’ve worked professionally as an editor since 2009. Hopefully I can offer some insight.

  • I would say the amount of time you want to wait between pitch emails to various outlets depends on the size of the project and how dedicated you are to having it publish in a certain place. If it’s, say, a 600-word op-ed, give it a week. Maybe go for two weeks and a short bump email after the first if it’s a larger piece. And no need to let them know if you pitch elsewhere. The editor will get back to you if the conversation needs to continue.

  • Definitely start small. I wouldn’t consider working with anyone who cold emails me that doesn’t include (let alone have) links to their writing clips. Seeing as you have writing experience, though, and assuming you’re pleased with at least some of it, I don’t see any reason why you shouldn’t pitch to wherever you want. That said, if you’re not hearing back from the bigger places, take that as a cue to go for the smaller ones. My all-time motto as a freelance writer: Fuck with those who fuck with you. (AKA Go where the love is.)

  • In my experience, the unsolicited pitches that I would give the most serious thought to were always clear and concise. If you are reaching out to someone who is constantly inundated with emails, brevity is your sharpest tool.

  • I’d happily critique a pitch if you’d like to send through. :slight_smile:

Also, I’m happy to answer any other questions! Good luck out there…


#3

Jess Joho, formerly of Kill Screen, now of Motherboard, has a good guide here.

My first pitch was for Kill Screen and I had no published work to back it up, bar personal stuff, and after that it was Vice gaming and I only had that KS article under my belt which was way different from their take.

One piece of advice I keep hearing more now, is stick a deadline on your piece. I don’t think you want to send a pitch to multiple places really, in case you have to say no to one. If you stick a deadline for response, then you don’t sit in limbo. Some editors are terrible despite paying you, and others might just be too busy with something massive elsewhere to keep track of everything.

I really ought to start pitching again.


#4

Just wanted to pop in and link to our About page, which includes guidelines (and tips) for pitching to us!


#5

@pfail Oh man, this is extremely useful! Thank you so much for taking the time to help. I’d assumed that concision would be important in the pitch, but have thus far found it difficult to straddle the line between brevity and fully explaining the intent of the pitch. I suppose, though, that’s the beauty/difficulty of writing as a medium!

Also interesting to hear that a brief and friendly bump is okay - for whatever reason I just psychologically nixed that as a possibility.

Thanks so much for offering to critique, I know your time is extremely valuable so it means a lot - so, so helpful, rather than stabbing in the dark. I’ll pm it to you shortly.

@austin_walker Thanks for the link! I’ve found your guidelines to be a great asset. Very good to have a baseline to work from. Just to verify, the correct address is waypoint@vice.com? I’ve also heard gaming@vice.com and wasn’t sure which was your preferred address (though I assume they go to the same place.)


#6

We’ve switched to the latter from the former to better separate stuff coming in to the podcast (gaming@) from pitches and official stuff (waypoint@)


#7

Great, thanks for the clarification!