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Day # 93 – One Week To Go

20 Oct

Day 93. You don’t have to be Grigory Perelman to work out that equates to one more week of this pitching malarkey. And, effectively, my twenties. Yup, over the hill in under a week and hopefully more mature and less inclined to make ridiculously public declarations of intent like this here blog. Hopefully this also means conversations can return to normal, rather than:

Person: so how’s that pitching thing going?

Me: look, there’s a squirrel!

Perhaps I can return to decent night’s sleep rather than leaping out of bed remembering I haven’t pitched, or waking bolt upright in the middle of the night with what seems like a brilliant idea (on closer inspection of the scribbled notes in the morning, it always manages to disappoint). Maybe I can bring my laptop back into the bedroom after it was banned following an accusation that I loved it more than my bedfellow. No comment.

Those with keen powers of observation may also have noticed its been a record gap of 20 days between posts. Whilst my pitching began with gusto, in these dying days of the experiment the process has become somewhat tepid. In fact, it has reflected my standard system when approaching any major deadline, particularly one I care about: Denial. Absolute unashamed, unbridled procrastination. It’s an art, I tells ya. (It really is: in a twisted and perverse psychological sense this self-sabotage is actually very clever: if you fail, you can blame lack of preparation, if you nail it, you’re a genius – you didn’t even prepare).

There have been a couple of sporadic bursts of action since we spoke last. I did have a quasi-epiphanic moment regarding travel journalism. Surely, after professional footy, this is the greatest scam in the working world: get paid to do what everyone else pays to do. I’m still very much in the sucker category, with large travel debts from spending the last decade gallivanting around the globe. As such, I haven’t been able to plan travel anywhere very word-worthy lately, excluding me from this kind of writing. Until it occurred to me I could dust off the old emails and write about the places I’d already been. So a few pitches went off in this vain – authentic family yurt experiences in Mongolia, catching the ferry from Stockholm to Tallin, a local’s guide to Goa, and how to buy a coffee plantation on the cheap in Columbia.

I also decided in these last couple of weeks of accountable, enforced pitches that they might as well be about something I’ve always wanted to know about. A long laundry list later, I shortlisted 3 or 4 burning topics, which will kill two self-serving birds with one stone if commissioned: advice on buying a vintage car, microfinancing for dummies and one on the social implications of men-only detention centres from next year (admittedly, I only realised I wanted to know about this on Tuesday, but its burning nonetheless).

I want to be one of those smart cookies, glasses and all

And this week, I’m setting myself the greatest challenge so far. The mother of all procrastination pitches: a pitch to the mag I want to write for the most. I’ve been waiting until the end so I could send them a dazzling portfolio of published pieces, but in the absence of those it will just have to be a cracker of an idea. The magazine is Frankie, and I’ve been putting it off because I want to get it just right – they have a really specific style (intelligent, witty, irreverent) and their writers (especially Marieke Hardy and Benjamin Law) are my heroes. The idea itself has not been forthcoming, but I’m hoping to change that tonight over a brainstorming workshop with friends. They’re under the impression it’s a birthday dinner but such is the necessary duplicity of the budding writer.

Day #72 – National (unofficial) Recycling Week

29 Sep

First a hung parliament, then a hung grandfinal. A year of inflated hype and promises with unsatisfying results. I’m pleased to report that pitch fever is no exception.

Destination of global significance or puddle with a cow?

Last week was declared the week of Great Telephonic Pitching Project. It should have been declared the week of rude switch-bitches, leaving voicemail messages, panicked hang ups by yours truly at the point of contact, unreturned calls, more voicemail messages, the occasional flustered editor not knowing what I was talking about, and one minor breakthrough in the form of a request for more information. Only problem was the request was for photos of the ‘worlds oldest village’ pitch and on the day I happened to be there it was raining so torrentially we couldn’t get out of the car. So the photos look a bit like a distant grey blur of a what might be a large puddle and not, in fact, stone huts and ancient eel traps as promised. What are the ethical considerations on pinching some stock photos in these trying times?

Any band who ties themselves together with helium balloons on a rooftop is alright with me

As it turns out, the most phone action I got was not actually the kind I was bargaining on. During the week I was asked to interview my very-first-actual-real-life-band, the Hungry Kids of Hungary. If you haven’t heard these boys, YouTube them immediately. You will understand my excitement: any band fulfilling my lifelong dream of levitating above a city using helium balloons warrants worshipping in my books. But the conditions: 20 minutes maximum. Over the phone. Here I was thinking I’d casually get a mobile number and give them a tinkle, but it turns out interviewing moderately famous bands  is a serious business involving third party conference call suppliers and an automated termination once your time is up. First lesson of freelance interviewing officially learnt: record, record, record. I have three pages of unintelligible notes that I’m now attempting to decipher. It turns out references to band members Ben, Kane, Dean and Ryan all look identical in shorthand scribble (what are the odds of so many n’s, a’s and e’s in one quintet?)

While I wait for a editors to return calls I’m embarking on a new strategy that’s much more satisfying than last weeks exercise in cold calling. With under a month to go till the finish line, I’m making the next 7 days National recycling week. Sure, the official week is in November, but I’ve always been a firm believer that every week should be environmentally conscious, so why not approach pitching in the same way? Ignored by Body and Soul? Rehash the story for Women’s Health. Slighted by HR Leader? See if BRW will give it a whirl. Snubbed by Bacon Busters? Well, there’s not really anywhere else that story could go. But in a similar vein, Beer and Brewer magazine pay their contributors in brewing kits, and I’ve always wanted to dabble in the dark arts of hops and barley. I wonder if there’s a market for recycled beer?

Day #50 – Please allow me to introduce myself…

7 Sep

With Operation Greek Migration officially abandoned today at 3.26pm EST, it is now time to fully devote myself to the demoralising art of desperately flogging ideas with disparately flagging enthusiasm.

To be fair, pitch fever has seen a moderate amount of published activity in the online world in the last week. A few interviews and previews for the Sydney Fringe Festival, a smattering of free tickets to review said shows, a promise of upcoming interviews with bona fide bands for Groupie mag and a weak attempt at toilet humour in Concrete Playground news. But considering any ranting twat can publish themselves online, and the entire remuneration from all this typing equates to this…

…at the official halfway point of Pitch Fever I’ve decided to change tack.

Commence Project Official Offline Publications (obviously haven’t got all the toilet humour out of my system). An article with a word count that can’t also be a football score, printed with real ink on genuine 120GSM stock, that can be paid for at a milk bar with actual money then cut out and sent to my Nanna for scrapbooking. If she dug that stuff.

According to virtually everyone who has an opinion on the matter, the main skill of the freelance feature writer is not, as you might think, to have a ground-breaking idea. Or even to write like Ross Gittens. It’s to know and understand your target publication and audience inside out. “Editors treat their publications like children, and they know them intimately” says Gina Perry, In Write to Publish. Sue White from Sydney Writer’s Centre has interviewed many editors on the topic and all of them list a lack of knowledge on their publication their greatest bugbear (and were gobsmacked at how often it happened, like pitches to in flight editors on destinations they didn’t even fly to).

Hence I declared last weekend ‘O-week’, and in the great tradition of all varsity orientations, spent the day with a beer in one hand, getting to ‘intimately’ know a whole lot of publications.

There are some excellent sites to peruse some of the 1600 titles in this country (more per capita than anywhere on the planet) including magnation and isubscribe. But to really get to befriend one, it’s ideal to have a physical copy on hand.

Step one: Spread every magazine you own (and have been pilfering and hoarding over the last month, from airport lounges to doctors surgeries) across office desk (or coffee table, as the case may be).

Step two: Pick up a magazine. Sniff it. Stroke it (Is it on glossy paper with a GSM of 40000 or does it have the texture of cheap public dunny bog roll? This will tell you exactly how much they’re charging for advertising space, and thus how much they’ll pay you). Have a leaf through, paying careful attention to the editorial content box (that little list of who’s who in the front) to gauge the ratio of staff writers to freelance writers.

Step three: Get acquainted. What’s unique about this particular read? And who reads it? What kind of sections does it have? How long are they? (count number of words in a row then multiply by number of rows). Where is it distributed – nationally or in the Inner West? What tone is it written in? If it were a person, what kind of car would it drive? And so on.

Step four: Place name of magazine in the middle of a blank page, encircle it with your favourite felt tip pen in a soothing-yet-cheerful shade, and let the ideas flow. Branch off with a new circle for each new idea, and link them where they relate.

Step five: Step back and admire work. Take right arm, cross over left shoulder, and pat self on back. Select least woeful of ideas and whip up into pitch to magazine, or if you’re a gambler, throw a few others in for good measure (it is a numbers game, afte rall). Open buttery Chardonnay to celebrate cleverness.

I’ve discovered that even though I love stroking my frosted aluminium MacBook (how can one inanimate object engender so much love?) I’m infinitely more productive with some old fashioned textas and an A3 drawing pad. Maybe it’s because I’m a visual person, or maybe it’s because I can’t compulsively switch between facebook, Twitter and Outlook to see if there’s been any action in the last, oh, 8 seconds. Either way, I had an unusually productive hour brainstorming the pitching direction for the second half. And rediscovering mind maps.

Day 50. About that many mind maps. 10 times that many ideas (most shite, but a couple of workable ones). A loungeroom that looks like its been under enemy fire, but the next few day’s pitches sorted.

Pleased to meet you, hope you guessed my name (Oh, yeah)….

Day #25: Quarter time at the pitch

13 Aug

Well, it’s quarter time here at the pitch and a big thanks to all those still reading, to those who’ve shouted out (especially Valerie Khoo here) and those who’ve been commenting, old muckers and strangers alike. A comment at the foot of a post is akin to a virtual pot of tea & a Mint Slice, as any blogger will testify, and has spurred me on to drop my some of my own remarks off across the blogosphere.

Work has been utter chaos this week* and with stress levels at fever pitch, inspiration for pitch fever was as dry as a nun’s nasty. I turned to my mate Ange (quite the wordsmithette) for some pitching ideas, and got this response:

“….If  anyone  boasts a wealth of unutilised random knowledge as a result of  experience, it’s  you. Pitch to women’s health mags about a girl’s journey from wheezing Splendour aficionado to City2Surf veteran in less than 6 days; or to natural health & naturopathy publications about the hilarity of colonic irrigation and how IBS interferes with a girl’s enjoyment of the Sydney dining scene; or to Dog Owners Monthly about what every aspiring dog owner/couple should know before using them as training wheels for kids; or to Wheels magazine with a story about when a scooter becomes less of a love than a liability; or to anyone that will listen, how the theory of Saturn’s  Return does or does not apply to the fabulous women whose psyches you have the  privilege of dissecting….. or (sic) come  to think of it, perhaps you  could pitch to some painfully artsy &  pretentious cultural journal a story about participation and investment in the  Sydney theatrical  arts scene amongst the cynical-and-successful almost-30  crowd….”

Without wanting to elaborate too much on anything mentioned above (for your sake as well as my colon’s), the woman has a point. Draw from life’s rich bounty of experiences and write about what you know. It’s sure to make the writing richer and the pitch more credible.

I’ve oft-lamented my position as a Jacqueline of all trades (except wallet retention) and a master of none (except cheese toasties) but perhaps these broad skill sets could come in handy as a features writer.  As such I decided to add to Angela’s helpful list of things I might know a thing or two about…

  • Environmental matters – co-founded an environmental radio show and passionate about all things green, particularly solving this country’s waste problem
  • Mopeds – particularly the cheap, unreliable Chinese variety that leave you crying by the side of the Anzac Bridge (on at least 5 separate occasions)
  • The Sydney swans – 15 years of loyal membership. Particularly Brett Kirk, pride of place on my fridge.

    Gratuitous image of Captain Kirk

  • Entrepreneurialism – I’ve brainstormed, fantasised about, researched, registered, and begun a number of random harebrained business ideas over the years (with varying or little success) so could impart some wisdom
  • Domain names – obsessed with purchasing little patches of virtual real estate, and have a bucketload, hoping to create something wonderful in them.
  • Travel – have clocked up 40 plus countries in my 20s, which goes a long way to explain my woeful financial situation
  • Topical HR issues (HR professionals are my ‘target market’ for work so I have to get into their world)
  • Positive psychology and the nature of happiness – as soon as I have a lazy $50K lying round I want to do my Masters of APP with Martin Seligman in Pennsylvania
  • And so on….

So that’s what the last few days and the coming couple will consist of: pitching from the road more travelled. One off to NETT magazine today on selecting the right business partner, and a couple earlier in the week on the rise of chicks on bikes & how to go about getting licensed (to Cosmo) and the rising importance of culture and wellbeing in staff retention (to, yawn, HR Leader).

In other news, Australian traveller responded with “amazing idea” (see pitch here) but they’re sans editor until mid-September, so I’m on the backburner till then. Impatiently, was tempted to flog the same idea to a couple of other rural travel rags like Coast & Country and Get Up and Go (for the more ‘mature’ traveller) but this one’s the queen of domestic travel, so I’m going to sit on it. I’ve also got a couple of meetings lined up, one about ongoing work with Pagesdigital (woohoo!) and a coffee with the founder of one of my favourite independent urban online review publications, Concrete Playground. I bypassed pitching an idea to these guys, whose target market is the ‘culturally curious’ and instead just pitched myself (as ‘one of those annoying friends constantly cajoling people into accompanying me to random events and discoveries’).

A sad state of affairs

But still no word back since the initial email from Yoga journal, despite an outpouring of offers of interview contacts (thanks Duncs, Laura & Sharpie) and perhaps more harrowingly, my hairdresser from Wagga won’t return my calls for an interview. Furthermore, its Friday night, and I’m at home encased in flannelette with nought but a laptop to keep me company, and a Salada with cheese for dinner. All this dejection and rejection could send a woman to the drink. And that’s precisely where she intends to be sent.

* All will be revealed at 4pm on Monday

Day #15 – The return to cold, chewable reality

4 Aug
There was a part of me hoping my first bona fide published article might be something weighty and serious, like an impact assessment of the Asian economy on the current geo-political landscape. Something the olds could cut out and stick on the fridge next to the Italian poetry magnets and feel like their funding of my education had finally manifested itself in something tangible. No, instead, I’ve gone and found myself talking about al fresco pissing in a music festival queue. And to make matters worse the accompanying portrait has me in a giant inflatable sumo suit with nought but a black g-string to cover my rude bits. Not my finest piece of work, written in the small foggy window between getting back late Monday night and submitting yesterday morning after about 3 minutes sleep all weekend, but I have officially lost my published writer virginity.

Despite alluding to the contrary, the last 4 days haven’t all just been sunshine and rock’n’roll and mid-strength beer. I took my pitching duties very seriously. I had intended to bail up a couple of editors should I stumble across them, but in the absence of any visible ones, I shot off a couple of pre-prepared numbers. Anyone that thinks that’s cheating hasn’t tried to cut and paste emails on an iPhone standing on one leg doggedly waving a solar charger around. Feeling festive, so all in a similar vein: one to Triple J mag on an anniversary special of Splendour (how things have changed in 10 years) and another to Marketing Magazine sprouting some ideas on innovative brand activation and sponsorship at the festival (from foam tents  to free mobile chargers), and its efficacy (I subscribe to this mag for work, so we’re reasonably well-acquainted).

Studiously researching publications (or is that the line up?)

I also used the campsite time to undergo some stringent publication analysis, a critical component of any proper pitching process. Whilst others were assessing the relative foxiness of Australia’s next top models in Rolling Stone magazine, I was memorising the regular sections, estimating word count and scanning the contents panel to calculate the ratio of staff to freelance contributors, a little trick learnt at the Sydney Writers Centre.

Rolling Stone was a winner – I’ve never really paid much attention to it (preferring to listen to music rather than read about it) but not only is it a sensational read (with politics, film, pop culture, and technology) it looks like virtually all articles are freelance! Bingo. Today’s pitch is hereby dedicated to them, a story about how the changing music festival scene in Australia (when you’re on a good thing…). The flogged copy of the in-flight mag ‘Voyeur’ from Virgin Blue also turned out to be an eyebrow-raiser, not just thinly-veiled travel advertorials flogging their destinations, but all manner of interesting articles, and once again, a proliferation of freelancers. Next on the radar.

Meanwhile, back in the unforgiving world of corporate reality, the strain of this extra-curricular pitching business is starting to show. I’m writing this in my lunchbreak, instead of breaking for lunch. I have 3 episodes of my favourite show, Tangle, beckoning to me from inside the Foxtel IQ box I haven’t had time to watch. So preoccupied am I, in fact, I’ve been contacted twice in 3 days by strangers who’ve found my wallet (once by the side of a Brisbane freeway, once on the 504 bus), tracked me down (once via my parents on whitepages, once through my local pubs loyalty card, who then called me. Who said alcoholism didn’t have its upside?). My friends have long since called me boomerang Boundy for my extreme luck when it comes to lost belongings but this has absolutely restored my faith in humanity. Perhaps my karma bank is full because I’m doing my first ever bit for charity fundraising in this weekend’s City to Surf (insert shameless plug to donate here). Now how can I turn that into a pitch?

Can you overdose?

This morning I was so stressed I absent-mindedly polished off a whole bottle of chewable Vitamin C’s. I have always been a bit partial to the taste (Dad used to bribe us with them) but I had no idea I’d done it until it was empty. Does anyone know of the toxic effects? Can you overdose? Does your wee turn orange in the same way Berocca turns it council-worker-vest yellow? Lucky I got that article in yesterday, I might not be here by tomorrow.

Continue reading

Day #8 – Son of a pitch….

26 Jul

Well, as it turns out being overly casual in a pitch is not always necessarily a CLM (Career Limiting Move). I heard back from the editor at Pagesdigital, and, amazingly, she reckons an on-the-ground fan’s perspective and wrap up might be just the ticket. I suspect this may be just a polite, metaphoric middle finger to my request of special backstage access or interviews with real bands, but I’ll take it! One slight spanner in the works of my digital publishing debut… the due date. Precisely 24 hours after stumbling back into the cold, harsh fluorescent light of reality. This might have to be a team effort, by the campfire (or flashing Ray’s Outdoors lantern) before bed (or inflatable mattress), methinks.

I deliberately didn’t mention Pitch Fever in my email, desperately hoping to be taken seriously as an established and very respectable member of the literati, rather than an experimentalist virgin writer. Nevertheless, she coyly wished me luck on the 100 pitches in the last line of her missive. There can be only one explanation. A quick self-search confirms this hypothesis, along with a few surprises. Good lesson early on to watch what I say, and to curb my tendency towards hyperbole.

Speaking of pitches, its day 8, and since we last spoke, I’ve popped a couple more irons on the pitching fire. Two sparked by a rather lovely night out with my boy on Wednesday night, a fortnightly (oft ignored) tradition where we alternate turns to take the other on a surprise date. The idea being to keep the romance alive and resist the lure of our ridiculously oversized wall mounted tele (which came with the house). My turn this time, so we headed off to the World Press Photography exhibition (is anyone else still haunted by those 6 images of the Zimbabwean elephant feast?) and then a truly spectacular little bar in Surry Hills called the Shady Pines Saloon. Since I’ve been old enough to finish a beer I’ve dreamed of a bar with peanuts in the shell, and here not only are they abundant (and complimentary) but surrounded by candlelight and taxidermy and Johnny Cash, and washed down with an incredibly impressive array of International whiskeys.

Ergo, two pitches: One to Time Out (Sydney) on ‘Ten tight arse dates’ (inspired by the free exhibition) and one to the SMH’s Spectrum on the small bar situation in Sydney. Since the liquor licensing laws were (finally!) amended in December 2007, and licenses went from being exorbitant to a mere $500, we expected a plethora of lantern lit, laneway watering holes to pop up. Up yours Melbourne, we began to say, we’ve got ferries AND your gorgeous grungy wine bars. But progress has been slow. There’s been some crackers, and some fizzers, but I could still count them on one hand. Within a 2km radius of each other. The boy and I were fantasising that night about opening up one of our own, and so I decided to be a little sneaky, and combine our own research with a potential story. Why aren’t there more small bars popping up? What do you have to do apply for a license? Is there a whole lot of red tape? How do they actually make money, with so few people and so much rent? What are some of the pitfalls, and joys? A dummies guide, if you will. I’d talk to someone vocal at Raise the Bar, a couple of bar owners who are killing it and a couple who’ve gone under. Maybe even a break-out box on some of the hidden gems. I’m a sucker for a break-out box.

One more quick pitch asking to do a couple of reviews and interviews for the inaugural Sydney Fringe Festival, happening in September – how can you go past an interview with a chick with a write up like this – and we’re up to one week of pitchin’. Phew. This whole pitching palava is far, far bigger than I originally imagined. Generating ideas, rejecting ideas, research, hooks, angles, publication choices, analysis of publication, target audience, interview and case study ideas, editor addresses, emails, and this here blog. Thank God Masterchef is finally over and I’ll get an hour of my life back each day. Although I’m sure the wall-mounted temptress will find some other way to suck me back in. Damn her and her wily ways.

Day #4 – How to pitch a story when you’re pitching a tent

23 Jul

Despite the picture painted to Bacon Busters of me as a demure office type, I’m actually at my happiest in the bush, unleashing my inner hippie at a festival. Knee deep in mud, hair wild, pear cider in one hand, rollie in the other. There’s something quite magical about this temporary utopia, where the drudgery and cynicism of daily life are cashed in for a world of creativity and community and optimism and possibility. And a sea of dancing, grinning faces.

This time next week I’ll be pitching a tent at my 20th music festival, and what better way to celebrate this anniversary than at the much anticipated Splendour in the Grass in Woodford, Queensland. The line up is arguably the finest this nation has ever seen, and those that know me are aware the excitement has this pitcher a bit feverish.

I’ve been bombarding anyone who’ll listen with emails leading up to this event on the merits of attending. And, for those who are, mix-tapes and lengthy newsletters on the essentials of proper preparation (including the practical and amusing benefits of inflatable boats and goon-filled super-soakers). So it makes sense my next pitch is Splendour-related:  the content is virtually written! Yesterday I dropped PagesDigital a line, requesting some sort of contributory role, be it beforehand (previews and entertaining preparation lists), during (e.g. ‘Most Munted Moments’ – a photo-essay) and the wrap up (reviews, interviews, etc). I’ve been subscribing to their flash-powered-page-turn monthly online publications, Groupie and Pages (and bi-weekly newsletters) for a while now, and like their savvy, snappy style. They seem to be a big media supporter of the event too.

Except somehow I got a bit carried away and used the word ‘boob’ and ‘rabid’ in a pitch. Suspect a mild stress-induced hysteria might be setting in. I’d include the full email here, but I’ve just found out my dear grandpa has started subscribing to Fever Pitch. He’s the funniest, most cyber-savvy and progressive octogenarian I know (Hi Pop!), but he’s still the son of a Methodist minister and I don’t want to risk offending him. Either way, I’m ok if this one doesn’t come through, and I can get down to the business of enjoying myself next week. Plus, last time I got paid to document a festival (Big Day Out, Melbourne, 2006) I spent so much time asking people to form human pyramids that I missed the first half of Kings of Leon. Vernon, I still haven’t forgiven you for abandoning our photography partnership.

But fret not, dear readers, even though I’ll be away from my desk for 5 days, I’ll still be diligently pitching’n’blogging. Along with downloading the ‘torch’ app for camping (I love living in 2010) I have acquired the free WordPress app so I can continue to update you throughout the festivities. I can’t promise quality content. I can’t even promise coherent content, but I’ll give it a shot. Hopefully with some tequila, lemon and salt…

ps

the URL for this blog was getting a bit confusing for people, so now you can find the same content at this very user-friendly address: www.pitchfever.com.au

pps

I’d very much like to add some sort of tally-progress-chart-graph-whatsit in the side bar, tracking progress of pitches, rejections, commissions, published articles… if anyone has any clue how this might be done (a plugin?) they will be handomsely rewarded with half a bottle of muscat and an envirosax bag of their choosing.

Day #3: You never quite know who you know

22 Jul

Funny things can happen when you put something out into the universe.  This time last week the closest I had come to being a published writer was brushing up against the suede-patched jacket of Clive Hamilton at the Sydney Writers Festival. Since then, after moronically declaring to the world my innermost dreams and desires, something strange has taken place. People are milling around to help. And I have my first story! Rhonda Whatserface would be proud.

The week of my community working its magic began with two shout outs on other blogs, one from the very fetching and cunning linguist, the mild cat herself. And the other from Pam Wilson, on her very useful resource for aspiring writers ‘WriteSmart’, and who gave me the confidence to get this off the ground (although starting to regret not heeding her advice about creating a slightly more realistic pitching goal. Say, ten, instead of one hundred). Thanks ladies!

Then, lots of pitch fever subscriptions, support, ideas and feedback from friends, some very helpful and some not so helpful (e.g living as a bag lady for a week, thanks Laura). A link to a writing job for an ad agency, although the logo itself put me off lunch. A link to calls for submissions for articles for the Body Image magazine, Consume (a little cruelly named I thought, but each to their own). An offer of introduction to some big wigs at in the Travel Writing world (Woot woot!). And then, a small miracle. An email from a multi-talented songbird called Maeve who I met at a mate’s wedding in March. Between me being the Groom’s Best Woman and her official serenading duties, I didn’t have time to find out she was an editor. But she read Pitch Fever this week and dropped me a line yesterday looking for writers to contribute to ‘Made you Look’, the annual publication for the government campaign ‘Don’t DIS my ABILITY’.

Its a refreshing approach to a subject matter which is often steeped in condescending clichés such as ’inspirational’ or ‘brave’. This little rag is right up my alley – fresh, funny, fabulously designed and making a real difference for people with a disability. Maeve mentioned she had 3 stories ready to go, with case studies lined up, they just needed to be interviewed, researched and written. Copy deadlines are a mere 3 weeks away, so I best get cracking. I promise no puns this time.

Its small, and I’m not sure if this technically counts as a pitch, as the story ideas have been given to me, but I’m running with it, as my first commissioned (and paid!) collection of words on paper. Protests can be directed to stopbeing@bloodypedant.org

So! It seems all this time I’ve spent socialising and building up an amazing network of mates over the years has been useful afterall (I told you, Dad). I wonder if all that wine guzzled in the name of networking is retrospectively tax-deductible?

Day #2: A pitch with no pub… lication

20 Jul

No word yet from Clint @ Bacon busters. Which is very upsetting, as the potential for pig puns is bigger than pork buns. Instead of finalising this financial year’s budget forecast at work today, I’ve been dreaming of potential headlines for this little pig piece, including ‘Girl goes the whole hog’, ‘Hunting – what a boar’ and ‘Sow, you think you can shoot?’ Maybe I shouldn’t have told so much hogwash in the pitch, like introducing myself as a freelance writer, when any quick Google search would reveal this is a complete porkie pie. Thanks to Tim and Kate for their contributions.

But yesterday’s post did get me thinking about something other than making bacon. Specifically, Slim Dusty. So I started humming ‘The Pub with no Beer’. And then it came to me, just after that bit about the faraway look on the face of the bum (when I was little I thought this was actually a face drawn on a posterior, with a permanent marker-ed leer). In the absence of any famous contacts, due to an absence of a high-profile journalism career, I can mine the people I already know for stories! And I just happen to know the grandchildren of two of Australia’s most famous icons: Slim Dusty and Don Bradman.

How about a feature profiling these and other ‘famous, twice-removed’ twenty-somethings and how their upbringing, beliefs and own career choices were influenced by their iconic Nannas and Pops? Did they feel the pressure to follow suit? Did they rebel, or be inspired? Does it dominate dinner party conversation? I needed one more subject to make this a story, and decided after spending my formative years living across the road from Bob Hawke and watching him play putt-putt on the roof with his grandkids, that he’d be the perfect iconic subject. Topical too, after Sunday night’s ratings blockbuster on his life. Quick dabble online revealed a nice hook: his grandson Dave has his spleen removed last year after a rugby accident, as did Hawkie Snr after a motorcycle crash in his youth. Bingo!

Quite chuffed with the idea actually, aside from one niggly hurdle: I can’t for the life of me think who to pitch it to. Editors’ universal bugbear, according to Sue White, a freelance writer and teacher at Sydney Writers Centre, is a pitch which doesn’t know the publication’s style or content, nor understand their readership. So who would want to actually read about this?

Search as I might, I can’t seem to find anything that fits: a general lifestyle, gender neutral publication for people in their 20s and 30s (I don’t think this is quite women’s mag fodder, with 2 male case studies). Quickly resist the urge to start one up (been down that path!) and decide instead to depart from traditional magazine land and into the back verandah, cuppa tea territory of the weekend paper lift out sections. Just the kind of story I’d soak up like gooey eggs with toast on a Saturday morning.

Decide on the Good Weekend – massively ambitious with a readership of 1.6 million and award-winning journalists, but I figure aim high and then once rejected I can recycle the idea with a new angle for 50 something. Or something. Find the editor’s email address using an age-old method of sourcing her name at front of the mag and some trial and error, and the pitch is off, with a little (white-lie) sweetener about interviewees lined up and happy to be photographed. Day 2, done! A mere 98 to go. Dear God.

 

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