How to pitch stories for front of book

Photo credit: Bruce Guenter//flickr

Dominique Lamberton is a Toronto resident who studied at Ryerson University, in which she graduated with a Bachelor of Journalism. Currently, she is the Passport Editor at enRoute magazine for the front of book section. She has also worked as the Associate Editor at Chatelaine prior to working for enRoute magazine. From the experience she has gained, she has given seven tips on pitching, specifically for front of book sections of magazines.

First things first, your pitch needs an angle! – The enRoute magazine already lays out all the sections where the different types of stories must be written for each month, so the beginning is already done. Though, only the broad sense of the story is decided by the magazine, but the journalist must figure out the angle. A good way to find an angle for a pitch for a front of book section is to focus in on the month of the issue you are pitching for.

“You want a hook for that month,” Lamberton said

Lamberton gave the example of in the enRoute magazine, they featured a curling coach in the month of January in one of their sections when he was competing in a curling competition that month. Curling is a sport that gets played in the month of January, so the angle of featuring a curling coach in a section for that month would be a good fit. It’s not necessarily a person you would feature in the middle of the summer time.

“Why this person, why now? Lamberton said. Why this idea, why now?”

Make sure the pitch makes sense according to the media outlet you are writing for – The story idea that a journalist pitches must cater to the certain media outlet they want to write for. Lamberton gives the example of wanting to featuring P.K Subban in the enRoute magazine. It would make sense since he is a Canadian professional hockey player and enRoute magazine is a Canadian magazine. Even if the pitch is well-written, but the story idea isn’t good or doesn’t relate to the media outlet’s focus, the pitch will get shut down.

Don’t be afraid to pitch more than one story idea at once – When pitching for front of book sections, it never hurts pitching more than one story idea for the same section or pitching story ideas for multiple sections. Then the editor has the choice of assigning the journalist the stories on which pitches they like the best.

“The more you got, the better,” Lamberton said.

Stay away from the “hard news” approach – When pitching for front of book stories, Lamberton advises to use more of a “storytelling” approach. If you were to pitch a story about a geographical place, make sure to give the historical background of the location and try to show why it is so interesting instead of going right into the story idea. Basically, try to set the scene.

Research for your pitch! – All pitches sent for a front of book article should be well researched, and the journalist should show through their pitch that they have a decent amount of understanding about the story they are pitching.

Be an expert on certain things – Sometimes, the editor for the front of book section will ask a journalist for pitches if they know that a certain journalist knows a lot on the topic they want a story about.

“I’ll know a writer that is really in the know about people or trends or have the right connection. I’ll reach out to them first, and ask them for pitches,” Lamberton said.

Look ahead! – Since pitches should be sent 3-4 months in advance of the publication, as a journalist writing for front of book, you always should be looking ahead at upcoming events.

“Once you’re in it, you’re always living a few months ahead of time, and then you get into the flow of things and can anticipate what events are coming,” Lamberton said.

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