View Full Version : Bad news, Good news! (With a bonus question)

02-17-2006, 01:20 AM
Bad news! I pitched an idea about the proper procedure for cutting a dog's nails to AKC Family Dog and recieved a response telling me that an article on a similar topic had just been published.

Good news! The Editor encouraged me to pitch future ideas to her direct email address.

Thinking back to my big fat article idea though, I want to smack myself. Most dog owners fret about cutting nails, so it's no wonder that the magazine has already covered the topic.

As I said before, I'm new to the world of writing for animal magazines, so I'm just wondering about how you come up with topics that haven't been explored to death...?

02-17-2006, 01:44 AM
Good job on getting encouragement to pitch future ideas!

Now go pitch that same idea to another publication, then start brainstorming.

Write down what you know about dogs, then break each item down into sub headings.

Like the toenail thing. . .are there dangers in cutting them improperly? I know people sometimes get serious infections from having their nails done at a salon that doesn't do it right, so maybe there is something like that to slant a nail article on dogs.

I know a guy whose dog died after having it dipped at a grooming place. It was matted badly so they had to cut it very short. . .had a few nicks & cuts and the groomer suggested waiting until it healed before dipping it, but the owner thought it would be alright. It wasn't.

So one could do an article on safety procedures when dipping dogs and then another "round up" of things that can go wrong when having your dog groomed.

There is an organizational chart feature in Microsoft Word if you have Word that works well to break subjects down.

02-17-2006, 01:45 AM
Excellent! The fact that the editor gave you her direct e-mail addy and wants to see other ideas from you is reason to cheer! You impressed her. :)

Now for the bad news--there are very few subjects that haven't been covered. Unless you're writing about new products, new developments in animal diets or health issues, stuff like that, coming up with new topics can be tough. A good way to stay on top of things is to read past issues (yup, same old tired advice as always); you can check magazine web sites for tables of content, too.

To help with future pitches, you might ask if the publication uses an editorial calendar. If they do, ask for a copy. This, along with studying past issues, will help you see what's coming up, along with what's been covered recently.

It never hurts to mention that you're available for assignments. That way you don't have to come up with the topic. lol

I wish you much success! Sounds like you're on a good track. :)

02-17-2006, 05:46 PM
That really is super! I've had that happen twice, and both times it resulted in multiple sales. You're off on the right track!

As for content, when I was doing a bi-weekly horse column I found that the best way to approach it was to read the newspapers and the horse magazines, and to watch TV. When I felt myself reacting to something--even if it was something not apparently horse-related, like rural zoning issues--that was my next topic. Dog owners may know more than enough about nail trimming, but you can extrapolate to the subject of modifying our pets to suit our needs--not necessarily the breeding aspect (though that bears inspection), but physical and surgical modifications. When I read about how to "set" a Saddlebred's tail, I went on a three-article binge on the subject of the ethics and humor surrounding the whole concept. :hat:

Best of luck! I'll be looking for your announcement that you've made a sale.

All fingers, toes, talons, paws and hooves are crossed for you. :e2woo:

02-19-2006, 10:40 PM
Congratulations on obtaining the editor's direct email. That says a lot.

Everyone here has given great suggestions. Hope they help you get the juices flowing. Good luck!

02-21-2006, 05:47 AM
Thanks for the encouragement and suggestions, everybody!

Fern: Unfortunately, the organizational flowchart didn't seem to be included when I installed Word. But I found alternatives, and I was pretty stunned at how easily a subject can be broken down, including grooming safety in general. I hope you don't mind that I used your idea, but today I pitched an article dealing with grooming safety at home. There's certainly a lot of ground to cover there, but I didn't realise it 'til I broke it all down in earnest.

02-21-2006, 05:55 AM
Bluebadger, it's amazing isn't it. . .when you begin to break a subject down. I couldn't believe it either the first few times I did it. It's kind of like cats (what my husband calls the gift that keeps on giving) just multiplies and multiplies. :lol:

I'm glad you could use the grooming safety idea. Good luck to you in getting it sold.