Writers\' Forum - 04.2020

(Darren Dugan) #1


Lesson 1
Newspapers are a
good source of ideas.
Whenever a topic is
in the news, there’s a
good chance a more
specialist magazine
will be interested in
an interview with the
people involved.

Lesson 2
The most important
part of a pitch is
sending it to the right
person, so phone and
ask who you should
pitch ideas to for a
specifi c section of the

Lesson 3
Always pitch an idea,
not a fi nished article,
as the editor may
suggest specifi c things
you should cover.

Go through a
newspaper in search
of article ideas. It will
help to have two or
three target markets
in mind so you know
the sort of thing they
may be interested
in. When you spot
a story, research
it further online,
including fi nding ways
to contact and set up
interviews with people
or organisations

the piece. In this case, I found
Eve’s website, which had an
email address and phone
number, so I knew I’d be able
to reach them.
If you can’t fi nd a way of
contacting a person directly,
look for the name of a
publisher, record company or
tour promoter etc that you’ll
be able to go through when
the time comes.

The pitch
The most important part of
selling an article is pitching it
to the right person. This could
be the overall editor, deputy
ed, features ed or the head of
a particular section such as
Travel or Money. If it’s not clear
from the contacts list in the
publication or on its website,
phone up and ask, being sure
to get their email address.
Most editors are happy to be
addressed by their fi rst name,
so my pitch went like this:

Hi Nick,
Following the news that Eve

  • The Riot Grrrls of Wrestling

has become the fi rst wrestling
promotion to sign a contract with
Equity, and that Equity is keen
to recruit more wrestlers into
its membership, would you be
interested in a company profi le
of Eve?
The piece could:
1/ Talk to Emily Read, founder
of the all-women London-based
promotion which stages shows at
the Resistance Gallery in Bethnal
Green, and some of the other
2/ Look at the training they
offer through the Eve Academy,
which includes acting, voice skills
and character creation alongside
the holds and throws.
3/ Explore the theatrical side of
an entertainment that combines
dance, burlesque, cabaret, circus
skills and stunt work.
Let me know what you think.

If I wasn’t already a Stage
contributor, I would have
added a paragraph on the
magazines I’d previously
written for and the type of
subjects I write about, plus
a couple of links to relevant

examples of my work online.
If you have no previous
writing credits to draw on, it
can be useful to start a blog
about a favourite topic and link
your pitches to that.

The brief
Editors generally respond
quickly to pitches they like
(and will often simply ignore
the ones they don’t). If you’ve
heard nothing within a week,
it’s worth a polite follow-up
beginning: ‘Just wanted to check
if you got my pitch for...’
If you still hear nothing,
don’t be discouraged from
sending further pitches for
other ideas until you hit on one
they like.
In this case, Nick liked the
idea but didn’t have a slot for
a couple of months – so were
there any upcoming events we
could peg an article to?
Luckily, Eve promotes shows
every month, so I was able to
send Nick a selection of future
dates to hook the piece on.
He came back with a
publication date and a deadline
the week before that, which
was about six weeks away, so
I had plenty of time.
He wanted 1200 words and
asked me to enquire whether
the Netfl ix wrestling drama
GLOW (Glamorous Ladies of
Wrestling) had had an impact
on audience numbers for
wrestling in the UK.
That was a good suggestion
since I’ve never watched
GLOW and wouldn’t have
thought to ask that myself.
It also underlines the fact
that writing for magazines and
newspapers is a collaborative
process and that once you pitch
an article you become just one
part of a team.

Next month
Writing the article, and what
happens after that.

If a publication runs a news item

on a subject, it’s clearly relevant

to their readers and they may be

interested in a longer piece


Douglas shares writing tips he’s learned through experience

#63 Find ideas on Facebook

There’s no doubt that mindlessly scrolling through social media can
be a time drain, but if you approach it in a wise and focused way it
can be a good source of article ideas and a convenient way of con-
tacting interviewees without having to go through third parties such
as PR fi rms. One of the things I like to write about, for instance, is
1950s rock ’n’ roll, so I joined a lot of Facebook groups for fans of
the music and lifestyle. The fi rst item in my news feed one day last
autumn was a trailer for the independent fi lm Dandilicious, about a
teddy boy in the 1950s. The timing was perfect to pitch an interview
with the director to Vintage Rock magazine, which ran a spread just
ahead of the fi lm’s release. I set up the interview by messaging the
director via his Facebook page.

■If you have a question about getting started as a writer,
please email Douglas at [email protected]

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