So you wake up with a cracking story idea and hit up one of the dozen lucky editors you have on speed dial. Et voila! You sold the pitch and it’s time for pancakes.
Oh, wouldn’t that be nice. For the rest of us, there’s this handy little agency called Newsmodo who can dress up our pitches and send them to the ball. Tasked with playing cupid for writers and publishers, it’s their job to track the interests, politics, and telephone hours of every editor in town.
From the inside Newsmodo cement relationships with publishers by acting as a filter, bringing them the most convincing pitches and ensuring that content is delivered to a high standard.
For freelance writers, pitching can be pretty stressful and is fraught with traps. Say you’ve done your research and found the perfect home for your story. Now you have to think of the best way to approach them. Do they regularly publish work by stringers? Oh that’s not a typo, a stringer is someone hired on a story-by-story basis. But yes, being a stranger can be a problem too. Do they accept unsolicited pitches?
Uh-oh, I think I might be a stringer stranger.
As a writer sometimes you think you have a solid ‘in’ only to have it blow up in your face. Recently I asked a very friendly editor who regularly publishes my stuff if she could introduce me to a colleague who I had my sights on for a pitch. “Whoa,” she said, “no no no don’t tell him we’re friends. I’m pretty sure he hates me. If you mention that you know me it’ll do more harm than good.”
Publishing is full of these quirky relationships so you really need to have someone by your side who can navigate through all those frienemies. Sadly when Facebook or LinkedIn tell you that people are connected they don’t also point out when they secretly hate each other.
Man Friday with a laptop
Ryan Jones is an editor at Newsmodo who regularly uses his publishing know-how to stop me from putting my foot in it. He’ll be there to point out things like "X won’t want to publish this because it cites an article by rival publication Y”. and counter with, “but I think if we re-frame the pitch I know an editor who would like it.”
Ryan is also able to explain publishing decisions in a wider context as he is across many works by many different writers. So when he has an editor in mind for a piece already, he knows their likes and dislikes, along with details like the tone of the publication and how much they’re likely to pay.
Sometimes Ryan will rule out pitches if he doesn’t think that they’re strong enough, or choose not to take them to specific publications if they already have a staff writer working on similar pieces. On other occasions, he’ll tell me when a pitch is nearly there, but will suggest an upcoming event to tie it to that will bulk up the significance and make it more newsworthy
Purists may not like it, but the fact is that Newsmodo is able to take stories and polish them into a viable commodity. This means that the platform works especially well for selling pieces to widely read commercial publishers. Correspondingly though, it may not to be the best place to sell poetry to a lit journal.
A problem shared is a problem halved
When you go it alone as a freelancer it’s easy to get disheartened after you meet with a dead end or your story gets rejected. Before long you might get sick of the sight of your story, despite being so excited about it the day before. And worst of all when you finally do get down to writing something it can be hard to produce your best work.
This is the secret that nobody tells you in these heady days of the gig economy: the real reason that creative industries are thriving online is that everybody is doing two jobs and working twice as hard. The truth is that if you’re a freelancer you also have be a salesman.
Thankfully through, Newsmodo freelancers have the opportunity to sell stories with an expert like Ryan in their corner. Along with potentially finding more work, you’ll always have an industry expert at the end of a phone who can play agony uncle to your unloved stories.