It happens to us all eventually: you have an idea that is so brilliant you can’t believe that you haven’t automatically won the Nobel Prize for Literature. Except, you can’t seem to land it. You’ve pitched all the dream publications, some big players who pay shitty rates, and then some less-than-ideal-but-you’d-take-the-byline places too. Finally, you turned to the Twittersphere or your freelance WhatsApp support group and asked if there is anywhere else you should try. Still, no joy. Radio silence. Nada.
Especially if it’s something you are super passionate about, it can be hard to be objective about whether your idea is actually good or not. Freelance Facebook groups like The Young Journalist Community or Freelance Heroes can be an invaluable resource to double-check that your idea is sound. Like I said in last week’s newsletter, non-journalist friends are also a good litmus test of whether your piece is actually of interest to readers. But what do you do when you can’t shake the feeling that you’re onto a winner, but no one else seems to feel the same? Well, you have a few options.
If you rely on freelancing for a living (and to be clear, I don’t, because I have a day job in marketing) then it may be you simply can’t afford to keep pitching this idea. While it’s disappointing, you can always revisit the idea in future if you find a better newshook or you see an editor is commissioning on that specific topic. Or, you know, you could just do an Elsa from Frozen:
If you are less reliant on freelancing for income, then you can keep trying to land it. It might not be your idea that sucks; maybe you’ve pitched at the end of the month when budgets are thinly stretched, or perhaps it would work better later in the year. Perhaps the editor just commissioned a similar piece, or maybe they didn’t see your email because they have 271 unread emails from other freelancers. There are all sorts of reasons why editors might not be so hot on your idea. Most of the time, these reasons are nothing to do with you.
But then again, maybe the problem is you. Is there a major typo in your headline? Have you called the editor by the wrong name? Is the pitch getting aired because it requires you having access to a source that is never going to speak to you in a million years? Did you email an editor who doesn’t have commissioning power? Getting a friend to check over a pitch and crowd-sourcing the correct editorial contacts is a sure-fire way of rectifying these issues.
If you really are dead-set on telling your story, though, then consider self-publishing. You could post the piece on your blog or website, or on a platform like Medium that at allows you to earn money for your work (if you’re enrolled in the Partner Program, that is).
For some, money is important. For others — and this is a privileged position, of course — just putting your words out into the world and getting positive feedback is payment enough.
… in editing
There have been some truly excellent contributions to The Indiependent music section lately. This analysis of how TikTok will continue to influence the charts in 2021 by Niamh Ingram was very well-researched. This explainer about hyperpop — what is it? why should you care? — by Warren Bradley taught me a lot too.
… in writing
Pitches: 1 new, 3 re-pitches, 3 follow-ups
I got two “this sounds really interesting but we’re out of budget” responses, which I personally think are EVEN WORSE than “thanks, but no thanks” emails. If anyone knows any publications other than Reader’s Digest that take books/health pitches, let me know…
Articles written: 1
Articles published: 1
Last Sunday evening I published a post on my blog, and tweeted it out not thinking anything of it. It was a personal essay titled ‘ Newspapers and oranges: what do you say when someone says they don’t want to marry you? ‘, where I reflected on the end of my most recent relationship.
Newspapers and orange juice: what do you do when someone says they don't want to marry you?
"Isn't it funny how when we first moved in together we had visions of us drinking freshly squeezed orange juice and…
It went a bit viral, and so the bulk of my week was spent responding to people who’d had similar experiences, or just wanted to drop me a line to say they liked my writing. I’ve been publishing personal essays like this one on an anonymous Medium account for the last year, but the response to this piece has made me think I should write this sort of thing more often. Watch this space!
… in listening/watching
Long-time Grand Design fan here — I wrote about how the show inspired me to get back into for The Indiependent last year. This week I watched this episode where a Yorkshire couple converted a decaying 1920s cinema into a family home. Scroll down to the reading section for more property porn.
… in reading
- I am such a nosey person, so I LOVED Sirin Kale’s piece for The Guardian ‘Modern life is rubbish! The people whose homes are portals to the past’
- Food writer Camilla Makhmudi’s gal-dem piece on why ‘Food is and always will be political’ was a necessary read in the midst of the UK government’s absolutely-sickening-but-not-at-all-surprising prioritisation of private contractors over the lives of children
- Nick Paumgarten’s New Yorker piece on ‘The most exclusive restaurant in America’ was a great read — it reminded me of this excellent VICE article: ‘I made my shed the top-rated restaurant on TripAdvisor’
- Summer Goodkind’s piece for The Telegraph on Gen Z’s relationship with jazz was excellent
- Shalya Love and Anna Merlan’s VICE article ‘Healthcare workers are refusing the COVID vaccine because no one is immune to bad ideas’ was scary reading
- Diyora Shadijanova’s gal-dem piece ‘How BTEC and other vocational students got left behind in the pandemic’ was depressing AF, but important
- This new relationships-themed newsletter by Morgan Hartley is genuinely laugh-out-loud funny and I can’t wait for next week’s issue
- I finally read She Said — the book tells the true story of the Weinstein scandal and the #MeToo movement and it’s gripping. I devoured it in less than 24 hours, because it’s just that good
- I also read Move Fast and Break Things by Jonathan Taplin. Although it’s from 2017 and the world has changed a lot since then, a lot of the considerations about how culture has been impacted by Facebook, Google and Amazon are still enormously relevant today. Probably a good place to mention that I’ve launched another newsletter — it’s called Tech Tock, and it’s a solutions-focused guide to the mounting threat Big Tech poses to both our personal privacy and democratic society
Originally published at https://thepeakdistrict.substack.com.