Since I’ve taken over as the Gaming Editor for this fine website/collection of writing rapscallions, I’ve received a number of pitches from aspiring writers looking to join our ranks. Whilst there’s been a lot of positive contact that’s led to some new blood coming through, there have been a few pitches that were less than stellar, shall we say. You might be a talented writer, but if your opening email isn’t up to snuff, it won’t matter.
But here at Cultured Vultures, we’re here to help these young up-and-comers achieve their dreams of publishing content. So, in that spirit, we’re going to help you make a much better first impression by identifying some potential pitfalls. Here are some tips to help your submission pitch.
Spell My Damn Name Right
I’m fully aware of how condescending this sounds, I am, but it’s happened enough times to me that it needs repeating: if you’re pitching to an editor, spell their name right. I’ve had a couple of pitch emails opened with “Dear Ashely”, which immediately find themselves in the trash folder. The reason why is that it suggests you don’t proofread your work. You don’t put enough care and attention into what you do, which ultimately gives off the wrong impression from the outset. It’s the Shockmaster Effect, essentially. This is your big debut, a chance to hype yourself up, but you end up falling face first through a wall in front of Sting and The British Bulldog.
One word keeps popping up throughout potential pitches: passionate. “I’m a passionate gamer”, “I have a huge passion for games”, “gaming is such a big passion for me”. Not to be blunt, but of course you’re passionate about it; why else would you be applying to be a gaming writer? We get that you’re enthusiastic and want to convey that, but so is everyone else. The pitches that have better resonated with me are those that introduce more personal elements; why someone is passionate about gaming, where that stems from and how that’s affected them growing up. The unique aspects of your life and your inspirations can be what separates you from the rest of the pack, so use it.
If You Have Experience, Show It
Though the majority of our pitches concern writers who have just started trying to break into the industry, we’ve had some pitches from experienced members of the industry who’ve had work published in the past. If that applies to you, then make sure to show that off. If your pitch idea is still in its infancy, linking back to a previous bit of work helps give the editor an idea of your writing style and what kind of content to expect from you. If the editor likes what they see, they’ll be more inclined to approve whatever it is you’re trying to submit. It sounds simple in theory, but the simple mistakes are the easiest to make.
Do Your Research
A common pitfall that undermines certain pitches is the lack of research that’s been done, specifically referring to whether or not that article or piece of news has been covered already by us. We’ve had a couple of pitches over the past few weeks where a would-be writer has given us ideas too similar to something we’ve already published, which is an error that could have been rectified with a simple search on the website. You could equate this principle to that of preparing for a job interview. You learn about the company and their practices, and suggest some new ideas that’d help you stand out. It’s the same here: learn whether or not your idea has been done before and go from there.
ACTUALLY PITCH SOMETHING
This is probably the biggest one for me: the lack of a proper pitch. We’ve had plenty of emails that talk in generalities without actually nailing down the specifics of what the writer wants to cover. It’s great that you want to write news, reviews and list articles, but give us an example. Despite the fact that we’re positioned as a site dedicated to helping shape new writers, we’re not exactly in the business of throwing out article ideas like sweets as soon as someone gets in touch. That’s not how the industry works. Even if your pitch is something a little generic like “5 Reasons I’m Excited For Far Cry 5”, that’s still a quantifiable idea that we could work with. Don’t actually pitch that idea now, though. I’ve realised how brilliant it is, it’s now mine.
And that’s the list. Though it’s not exhaustive, it’s a good starting place for improving your pitches going forward. And hey, I’ve been just as guilty of some of these mistakes in the past too. I only found out last week that my phone number on LinkedIn has been wrong for three and a half years, so perhaps I’m not in the best position to give out advice. If this has been helpful for you, be sure to share the good word with your friends, co-workers and mortal enemies.
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