Sunday, August 11, 2013

Want to be a freelance food writer? Here's help

Food editors can be flooded with freelance pitches, yet good freelancers can be in short supply. Here’s how to make yourself stand out.
One pitch doesn’t fit all. Before you submit a pitch, take a good look at the publication. Suggest a story that complements but doesn’t duplicate existing coverage.
Start with the subject line. The editor probably gets hundreds of emails daily. Chances are, most of those are deleted without being read. Your subject line should convey the essence of your pitch – and that it is a pitch from a writer, not yet another press release.
Keep it short (see previous).  Introduce yourself in a sentence or two, and summarize your story in a paragraph.
Show your work. Link to your blog. If you’ve been published elsewhere, include links to those stories too.  Avoid attachments if possible.
When you get an assignment, pin down the details. When is it due? How many words does the editor want? Don’t assume that you have wiggle room. Turn your story in on time, and don’t write long.
Be style savvy. Every publication has a list of preferred style guides. If your editor doesn’t tell you which ones to use, ask. Before you write, read an issue or two of the publication with an eye toward style. You don’t want the editor to need to insert (or delete) the word “granulated” before every mention of sugar.
Check, then check again. Verify every fact. Double-check names, especially spellings. Be vigilant about ingredient amounts, cooking times and other recipe details.
Read your story aloud before you turn it in. That’s the best way to catch overwriting, typos and missing words.
Don’t fret about a lack of feedback. Today’s editors are so busy that you might not even get an acknowledgement of your submission. Try not to take it personally.

Copyright 2013 by Judith Evans. All rights reserved. 

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