There's nothing more exciting for me as Romper's Senior Features Editor than reading stories straight from the women who are living them. Our goal is to provide a platform for young women with kids to share your experience of motherhood, whatever that looks and feels like for you. But because I'm the person on the receiving end of firstname.lastname@example.org, I get a lot of ideas every day. The following is my advice on how to pitch to Romper so that your work stands out from the rest — and so that it's packaged in a way that makes it easy for me to say yes.
One caveat: These suggestions are specific to Romper; I can't tell you what editors at other publications are looking for. Here's what works for us:
Take some time to read the site and get a sense of our specific voice and what we're about. The kinds of posts that work for Romper are: think pieces pegged to events in news, pop culture, motherhood, and feminism; editorials; reported pieces; personal essays; and really, any other strong work you think would resonate with a large audience. If you are writing a reaction to a current event, be sure to submit it the day of the event or in the 24 hours after — the news cycle moves very quickly, so you'll want to, too. If you can get it to us within the first few hours, even better.
We only accept pieces that haven't been published elsewhere, and because I haven't worked with you, I'll always need to see a full draft before I commit to running a piece. That said, you can pitch an idea first for feedback before writing up a full draft.
If you're seeing the same idea published all over the web, there's a good chance we aren't going to run a story with that same angle. Instead, get creative. Take a different stance. Ask yourself what people aren't talking about. Don't be afraid to think outside the box.
If you’re curious whether or not an idea is a fit in the first place, keep it as short, sweet, and to the point. Include your estimated word count and expected format (are you writing listicle, personal essay, editorial, reported story?). If it seems like a fit, I'm happy to consider a draft. If I pass, that doesn't mean you can't pitch again in the future with a different idea.
If you're struggling with what to include in your pitch email this outline works every time:
Working Headline: (1 Line)
Thesis (what are you trying to teach/express to the reader?): (1-2 Lines)
Nut Graf (why should the reader care about this? If it's a personal essay, what is the arc of the story?): (1 Graph)
Approximate Word Count: (Generally, features are anywhere between 800-2000 words.)
Potential Sources: If it's a reported piece, who would you talk to?
While I really enjoy helping you shape an idea, that's not always possible. So if there's one thing to remember, it's this: If you have a full draft, submit it! Whenever possible, copy and paste an edited draft in the body of the email below your intro. (You can also attach it, but pasting it saves me a step, which also might save me from consuming my fifth cup of coffee for the day.)
As any editor will tell you, we get at least a dozen PR pitches her day, and most of them get deleted unopened. That pitch you worked so hard on deserves a better fate.
If it sounds like a PR pitch, chances are it probably reads like a PR pitch. So when you email email@example.com, make sure that your subject line is straightforward. Subject lines like "SUBMISSION: 15 Ways Becoming A Mother Changed Me, And Why I'm A Better Partner Because Of It" are spot-on, but others, like "Feeling Sexy After Baby!" come off sounding more like a PR pitch than a potential story.
Keep the body of your email intro short, professional, and clear. Briefly introduce yourself, avoid telling your life story, link to any related articles you’ve published if applicable, then get straight to the pitch. Ideally, the whole intro is one paragraph, max. While it's awesome if you've been published elsewhere or went to J school, I always, always judge 100 percent on the writing itself.
You should always assume that an editor is pressed for time, so the best way to ensure I'll be able to look over your email is to make it as clear, professional, and hassle-free as possible. Are there run-on sentences? Are there any unnecessary details your pitch can do without? Does anything not make sense when you show it to another reader? And for the love of Michael Scott, is everything spelled correctly?
If you've submitted a piece and haven't heard anything, follow up with me. If I've passed on a piece in the past but you have another idea, email me. If I've rejected a pitch and you want to know why, email me. I do my best to answer every pitch that comes my way, but sometimes a few slip through the cracks. Don't hesitate to reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org to see what you could do differently the next time around.
Part of our mission is to help new writers become better writers. We want to help you tell a story in the clearest, most engaging way possible, and we'll do everything we can to make it work. So if we pass on an idea, come up with another!
Images: Giphy (7)