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MatadorU will teach you the skills you need to become a travel journalist.

Photo: Avenue G

WHEN I FIRST STARTED out as a writer I made some terrible pitches. They actually weren’t pitches, but really just me trying to reach out to editors hoping they would recognize the inherent genius of my emails and take me under their wing.

Rightfully, they were ignored.

Likewise we get a bunch of these kinds of beginner’s pitches. Now, being on the receiving end of them, I have to choose whether to waste precious time responding to them, or feel some kind of karmic repercussion for ignoring them.

This morning I asked Matador’s Managing editor Julie Schwietert for her advice on beginning writers dealing with editors. She came up the following list of things never to tell an editor. I thought that was a good start.

Please help us, other editors, and most of all, yourselves, by not writing any of the following:

I have hundreds of stories. Let me know which of my experiences might interest you.

Come with one idea, well-developed, rather than “100″ ideas that aren’t developed at all.

I’m about to go to Mexico. Is there a story you need?

Ditto the above. As you develop a relationship with an editor, he or she will learn more about you, your interests, and your writing abilities and will pitch ideas to you as needs and synergies arise.

I’m a single mom who just got back from a trip with my daughters. We had a blast. If you want us to write for you, let me know.

You get the idea. Editors have all the work they need. Don’t give them any more.

*Get access to paid freelance travel writing opportunities and an active community of travel journalists by enrolling in the MatadorU Travel Writing program.

Journalism Career Tips


About The Author

David Miller

David Miller is Senior Editor of Matador (winner of 2010 and 2011 Lowell Thomas awards for travel journalism) and Director of Curricula at MatadorU. Follow him @dahveed_miller.

  • Tim Patterson

    Right on. I started out writing crappy pitches too.

    First rule of successful travel writing: it’s not about your trip. It’s about whether the article makes the reader feel something.

  • Anna

    Great advice!

    The other one I would add is never ever start out with “I don’t have much publishing experience, but…” Don’t downplay your skills!!! Be sure you sound confident and an expert on what you want to write about.

  • Abbie

    Thanks for the article – I need all the advice I can get!

  • Sarah

    Yes!   I think it’s really important to keep in mind that you need to show how you and your story will fit really well into whatever outlet you’re pitching to.  They have no need to accept or even consider you, so you need to pitch something really tailored and specific that will make an editor say, “hey, that’ll fit perfectly here, and that’s right up our alley!” 

    Also, cozy up to rejection.  Man.  It’s inevitable and I don’t think there’s ever really a time, unless you’re some best-selling author, when you’re not going to deal with it.  But articles like this help massively in showing writers why they might’ve been rejected so that they can gear up to do it better the next time.  

  • Turner

    I finally tracked down my first email to Matador, written many moons ago.

    1. I introduced myself, citing my personal blog and Matador profile as references.

    2. I explained the idea I had for an article, and attached a short excerpt.

    And that was that.

  • tom gates

    #6: Never spell the subject of your piece incorrectly.

  • Richard Best

    Please add “You get the idea” to your list of expressions to never use. I don’t think any phrase has become as irritating as quickly as this one has.

  • gurner

    I am a newbie in the publishing industry. I submitted a Book Proposal to an editor. After a month, I was too eager for a reply that I asked them for an update twice in a week’s time. After just one week, I got a rejection. I just happened to learn that editors are very willing to say “NO” to anyone (as in ANYONE, no matter how BIG your idea you think it is!) who comes as a nuisance.

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