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Day #60 That rather terrifying invention… the telephone

17 Sep

What I’ve learnt about the world of pitching thus far:

  1. Editors are not very good at responding to their emails
  2. Editors are, however, much more likely to respond to an email if the job is unpaid or virtually unpaid ($20 an article does not a sustainable journalism career make)*
  3. Editors do not seem to respond to flattery, even if you’ve personalised a reference a specific section in their last issue and spread compliments like condiments
  4. Just because an editor responds once with interest, does not mean they’ll ever respond again
  5. Just because I think an idea is ground-breakingly brilliant**, does not mean it warrants a reply, no matter how many times an hour I refresh my inbox or check my junk mail folder to ensure no offers of triple page spreads have slipped through to the keeper
  6. There’s no point posing as an established journalist since the invention of Google. All can be revealed in under 10 seconds. And usually is.

There is a small chance that my over-reliance on the electronic medium may have some small part to play in this editorial silence. Wrong addresses, wrong people to speak to in the first place & getting lost in the paper trail could all be plausible explanations. Truth be told, I haven’t actually chased up a single of the 60 pitches sent so far. May seem like a fairly obvious oversight, but one steeped in an acute fear of picking up the phone and sounding like I’m way out of my depth. You can’t have mental blanks over email. However, you also can’t expect much cut through, and so this week, I’m giving my fear the middle finger and am going to harass publication switchboards all over the country.  Chasing up old pitches and throwing in some new ones, all squished into the 30 seconds before they hang up the phone. Very scary. But at least that’s not enough time for them to Google me before they decide….

*Amazingly speedy response from the punch this week after my pitch on offensive celebrity tweets, and ‘what the world knows about Australia from watching Neighbours’. But prefaced with the following disclaimer:

Thanks for your proposed ideas for a contribution, we’d love to read any of these once they are fully developed. If you want to get back to me with a completed piece, I can pass it onto the editors for review.  Also, unfortunately we are not able to pay our contributors at the moment, so I thought I should let you know. Looking forward to hearing from you again soon.

**Tell me I’m not alone in thinking a piece for an HR trade mag, analysing Mad Men episodes through the lens of current Australian workplace sexual harassment legislation (in light of the DJs case) is utterly compelling reading. This is not just an excuse to watch all of Season 4 in one sitting. Honest.

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?

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