Creating article ideas is easy. Getting them to print is much more challenging. In my four years of freelancing, I’ve gotten better at framing ideas for specific publications and figuring out what would fit at what publication. What follows is my process for sharing my ideas with others.
1. Record a flash of brilliance. It doesn’t have to be perfectly formed, but if it doesn’t make it into one of my many notebooks, I’ll start playing with Tessie and it’ll be gone.
2. Google it. Before you even consider finding a market, search the topic. If my idea has been covered, I’ll try to find a more creative angle to us as an approach. If my exact topic has been covered, that item stays in my notebook, but gets put on the back burner until I can figure out how to tackle it.
3. List publications. If this article could fit at one of my bucket list publications, I’ll pitch it there first. If/when it gets rejected, I can restructure the idea and present it to one of my mainstays.
4. Draft the pitch e-mail. Obsess over every comma, word choice, and sentence structure. After the content is out of my brain, I reshape it (and reshape it and reshape it) until it blends the publication’s voice and style with my own.
5. Hit send. My usual ritual is to close one eye, stare warily at the screen, pray for minor errors, and click. Then I jump back and watch it leave my computer and freak out.
6. Wait. Now that it’s sent, what tiny and idiotic errors did I make in the e-mail? OH GOD, I MISPLACED A COMMA.
7. Keep waiting. Don’t give in to self-doubt. Editors are busy people, and if I don’t hear back within a week, I’ll send a follow up message.