Are you a fast pitcher?

For the past two months I’ve been learning how to pitch ideas to editors more effectively. My goal, like many of you, is to land more writing assignments so I can grow my income. And since getting published is a numbers game, it made perfect sense to direct my energy at improving my pitching.

I’ve always been an inconsistent pitcher. I’d have a few good months here and there, but I’m mostly a slow pitcher—embarrassingly slow in fact. It would often take me as much time to write a query letter than the actual piece. My query had to be absolutely flawless before I could even think of sending it out. This meant I had to pick the right publisher, study the publication in depth, come up with the perfect idea, outline it, write a rough draft, and finally… start my query and polish it to a shine. The whole process could easily take me over a week. All that time for only one query letter!

So how fast a pitcher are you? If you’re using the wrong ball probably not that fast. Same deal if you’re using the wrong techniques. In my case, I was desperate to fix this, and I knew just where to go to get the help I needed—I enrolled in the online course 30 Days, 30 Queries created by Mridu Khullar Relph (I highly recommend it by the way).

So did it work? Yes, but I obviously had to be willing to put in the work and effort, and it’s still very much a work in progress. To meet my new goal of sending out at least one pitch a day, I’m learning to let go of perfection (which, when you think about it, is really just a form of procrastination and fear avoidance).

I’ve turned my process around and now save my longest stretches of free time for writing pitches, working on assignments and personal writing projects. Everything else gets done in the little pockets of time that appear throughout the day. This includes scanning newsletters to find new markets, speed reading magazines, looking through book publisher catalogues, and coming up with ideas.

Oh my gosh—ideas!

Ideas were by far my biggest time wasters. And not because I had trouble coming up with them! I tend to jot down the multitude of ideas that come to me every day on whatever piece of paper I happen to have at hand and place them in folders divided by category and age group. When the time came to brainstorm, I used to read them all, see which ones tempted me the most while putting aside those that terrified me. It literally ate up hours of my time! I finally put a stop to this by forcing myself to grab the first idea on top of the pile and go with it. And I surprised myself. I actually managed to ignore my fears and turn a few scribbled notes into a pretty darn good pitch!

My pitching rate is gradually increasing. I went from one pitch a week, to one every second or third day. Yesterday, I actually sent out two in one day! I’d say I’m finally making my way into the fast pitcher club.

My next step? Learning how to get editors to respond faster. If you have any tips for that one, I’d love to hear them!