Forums Writing Writing Labs Pitch Lab for the Week of April 24th // Open Until Friday, April 26th, 5:00PM EST

Pitch Lab for the Week of April 24th // Open Until Friday, April 26th, 5:00PM EST

Welcome to the Writing Labs – this week we are doing something different.

Instead of submitting your writing for critique we are going to focus on crafting a good pitch. 

Matador Network Managing Editor Carlo Alcos will be giving feedback and direction on your pitches.
What you submit here should be your best work. In other words, please do not dash something off quickly in order to meet the lab deadline. We do our best in here to give comprehensive feedback and hope you will respect this by meeting our best effort with your own.

+ Reply to this thread before the deadline. Posting your own thread might cause you to miss the deadline, so check and make sure you’ve posted a reply to this thread — not a new thread.
+ You must have already completed and gotten feedback on your first assignment before being eligible to post to the lab. You may post revisions of assignments or any other work you would like critiqued.
+ Please post questions about your work with the link to the work or the work itself.
+ Please proofread your work and keep typos to a minimum so we can focus on issues like narrative and character instead of it’s and its.
+ Please limit yourself to one piece of work for review. Your piece doesn’t need to be a course assignment. It can be anything travel writing related you’d like feedback on. However, if it is an assignment or assignment revision, please be sure to let us know for which chapter you wrote it.
+ Please note that revisions from this lab will have to wait for critique until next week’s lab. We can’t review your piece twice in the same lab, in other words.
You have until 5:00PM EST on Friday, April 26th to post your work. If you don’t know what time that is, it’s this time here.

View Profile 2013-04-24 16:08:05 PDT

Hello Carlos,
I’m interested in contributing articles to Matador. I am currently enrolled in the writing program, and have participated in a few writing contests. I am a Nevada native and am interested in writing on the following subjects.
1. The Rocky Mountain Oyster Festival in Virginia City, NV: Origins of the annual sheep castration, and how this old mining town now celebrates with a booze-soaked weekend of festivities.
2. Bars of the old west, then and now: Nevada has some of the oldest saloons and thirst parlors around. They have gone through changes over the years, but the buildings and stories still stand strong.
3. The transition Samuel Clemens made to Mark Twain after heading west. Virginia City was where he took the famous pen name, and where his tall tales got him into a little bit of trouble with the locals.
Some of my writing work can be found in MatadorU’s assignment section. I also blog some of my travel stories at
Thank you for your consideration,
Dana Gaworski


View Profile 2013-04-24 22:41:20 PDT

Hi Carlo,

I have a few stories I would be excited to develop for Matador Network.  I am a new student in the hopes of being a contributor in the future.  Here are the themes I have to share:

1.  The decline of pulquería culture in Mexico.  What has come of the frothy, agave derived, alcoholic beverage?  What has replaced the old beverage of choice of the lower-class and why?

2.  Train your brains or you may eat some.  A language guide to a Mexican taqueria menu is necessary considering the variety of meat choices (the animal, the cut, the preparation).  Sometimes even Mexicans have to ask, so a traveler would be wise to prepare.  Whether or not you’re interested in consuming tortilla-wrapped cow brains or tongue, learning the names is a must.

3.  How a verbal warning signal saves undocumented African immigrant street vendors in Naples, Italy everyday.  Several times a day the Neapolitan police cruise the main downtown drag hoping to catch and apprehend African street vendors.

You can find some of my submitted assignments on the MatadorU student showcase.  Thanks for reading!

Take care,
Vicki Jones

View Profile 2013-04-25 21:05:23 PDT

Hi Carlo!

I’m very interested in contributing my travel writing to Matador for publication.  As a student currently enrolled in the writing program, the articles on Matador have been a significant influence in my pursuit of a travel writing career and I’d appreciate the opportunity to share my experiences and interests with the Matador community.  I am an architect and a Philadelphia native who has been living in New York City for twelve years, and I am interested in exploring the following topics for Matador:

1.  How to Piss Off a New Yorker: As tourist season begins in NYC, a quick and fun guide to the do’s and don’ts of the “angriest” city in the world – from subway and sidewalk etiquette to sports bar chatter and the “hipster haters”.

2.  CoWorking for Solo Workers: With NYC’s emerging leadership role in the science-and-tech scene, a new crop of coworking spaces and start-up incubators are scrambling to contain all of the “next big things”.  But traditional freelancers, techies and creatives alike, are hard-pushed to find a peaceful place to do some solo work without mandatory coffee refills or a generous spritz of l’eau de homeless.  I’d like to do a round-up of 4-6 local venues that offer the best in quiet (and free!) solo workspace and the options for travelling freelancers who need work space/support all around the world.

3.  What’s in a name? – NoMad District:  The enigmatic names of NYC’s neighborhoods reinforce the mythological reputation of the city.  Two years after being “christened” the NoMad District by The New York Times, this scrappy triangle of wholesalers, hotels and dingy office buildings above Madison Square Park is still having growing pains.  I’ve watched the creation (and gentrification) of this destination neighborhood from the windows of my office for over five years and I have interviewed a few of the local characters to get their take on their new neighbors.

Examples of my writing can be found in MatadorU’s Student Showcase as well as on my personal blog, Of course, I am happy to make any edits necessary to ensure publication and I would love to discuss any additional subject suggestions you may have.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Take care,

Paris Swann

View Profile 2013-04-26 09:06:05 PDT

Hello, Carlo.

I am a writer of fiction, travel narratives and essays, and I have three  informative and entertaining pieces I think would be a good fit for Matador’s Writing page.

The Book Review:   In which I pick up Apocalyptic Planet:  A Field Guide to the Everending Earth, the latest from inveterate desert trekker, writer and student of all things geological, Craig Childs, hoping one of my favorites hasn’t gone globetrotting just to pick up that old saw singing the praises of a resilient planet while ignoring the reality of the decades of unimaginable suffering that would ensue should Mother Earth decide to shrug us off.

The Feature-length List:  Five career-thwarting habits that needed to die, and why I hired Seinfeld’s George Costanza as my hitman to target procrastination, premature self-editing, obsessive info-mining and two other sneering villains that  prey upon productivity.

The Essay:  I explore the miniaturization of communication and how the internet, twitter and Ikea’s uni-lingual assembly cartoons take us full-circle back to cave painting, the coolest thing to come out of the Stone Age (and now without the ubiquitous mortal danger!).

You can read my most recent work on the Student Showcase at MatadorU, and I have clips (old school!) of my work published in periodicals that no longer exist.  Soon my blog will feature adventures in family travel as well as dispatches from the backcountry and a restless mind.

Thanks for your time.

All the best,

Christopher Waltz

View Profile 2013-04-26 10:15:23 PDT

Howdy Carlo,

Fort Worth, Texas offers a vast array of experiences ranging from arts and culture to our proud western heritage.  As a native of “Cowtown” I would like to bring more attention to our diverse city and separate our shared identity from Dallas. Below are subjects I believe would interest Matador Network and their readers.

1. 24 hours in Fort Worth. Fort Worth offers a wide array of activities that are unique to our city. From art museums and fine dining to cattle drives and honky tonks, I would like to narrow the city down to provide a well-rounded, 24 hour schedule for visitors.


2. The Ultimate Guide to best bars in Fort Worth. This article would provide a detailed guide to the dive bars, piano bars, karaoke bars, cocktail lounges and beer halls that are scattered across Fort Worth. Information will be provided on the location, atmosphere and pricing.


3. The top 5 Tex-Mex cantinas in Fort Worth. Fort Worth’s strong Hispanic culture has blessed us with an abundance of choices to choose from if you’re searching for an authentic Tex-Mex meal. I would like to narrow down the choices and provide the top 5.


You can find examples of my writing in the Student Showcase section on Matador U or you can visit my personal blog at


Thank you for your time and consideration. I hope to be hearing from you soon.


Teran Jones

View Profile 2013-04-26 13:56:40 PDT

The Pitch Lab is now closed.

View Profile 2013-04-26 16:28:06 PDT

Hey Dana,

First lesson: ALWAYS double-check the spelling of the person you’re addressing 🙂

Next…you start off with “I’m interested in…” – your interest in publishing with us is inherent in your pitch. If you weren’t interested, you wouldn’t be pitching me. Remember, editors are really busy so making your pitch as short and concise as possible is really important.

It’s good you included your connection to Nevada, now I know you’re an “authority” on what you might write about…as for the pitches themselves, they are a little lacking in detail and focus. For example, in your first pitch you actually have two possible themes, and you have a pretty generic title.

Tighten up your pitches; focus on a single aspect to create a compelling story: Sheep castration. Throw a title at me: “The origins of sheep castration at the Rocky Mountain Oyster Festival” – and don’t stop there. Tell me how you’ll go about getting this story and how it will be presented. “It will begin with some history of the practice that dates back 127 years, and I’ll talk to sheep farmers and include quotes…etc”

Pitch 2: Is a little more focused but can use more work: “but the buildings and stories still stand strong.” What does this mean exactly? How about giving me a sample story?

Pitch 3, again is vague.

Lastly, when referring to your own writing, give me links to specific pieces, particularly pieces that you feel match Matador’s style (if you’re not familiar with Matador’s style, do lots of reading…prove to me you understand our editorial mission). Don’t make me wade through your entire blog.

Hope that’s helpful, thanks for participating in the lab!

View Profile 2013-04-29 14:50:39 PDT

General note to all pitch lab participants:

First, thanks for participating in the lab this week!

I can’t help but notice that everyone sent in very similar sounding pitches, and they all have 3 story ideas. In Josh’s description for the lab he didn’t mention any kind of format nor specify how many story ideas to pitch. My best guess is that you all saw what others were doing and emulated it. Remember, the point of a pitch is to stand out from other people. Don’t look at what others are doing and think that that’s the best/right way to do it. Personally, I don’t really care what format a pitch comes in, as long as it hooks me in the first one or two sentences, is something relevant and onbrand for the publication I work for, is unique, and is concise in explaining to me what the pitch is and why I should seriously consider it.

The other note to make, and maybe this should have been more clear in the directions, is to actually pretend you’re pitching me as a professional journalist…in other words, not as a student (eg – “I’m a student and would love to be published on Matador Network”). Come at me with a “real world” pitch, if you know what I mean. Put yourself into the shoes of a pro freelance journalist. If we had no connection, how would you pitch me?

Just wanted to say that as it pertains to all of the lab entries here…I’ll continue to give specific feedback. Thanks for reading!

View Profile 2013-04-29 15:44:20 PDT

Another note…which I made to Dana above (and don’t want to repeat in every one because this was common across all the entries): When you reference your own writing as examples for me to read, link to specific things you’ve written that showcase to me that you are competent to write whatever it is you’re pitching me.

For example…say you pitch me a guide to an after-hours bars in Mexico City. You’ll want to reference any writing in which you’ve written in a guide-like format. Say you pitch me an interview…send me a link to another interview you’ve done in the past.

You’ll also want to take into account the style/tone of the publication you’re pitching. Matador has a very specific style/tone…so show me that a) you’re familiar with it, and b) you can write in that style/tone…by sending me specific examples of it.

An editor will not have the time to sift through your personal blogs to read your writing. You want to make as little work as possible for the editor you’re pitching. Remember that one…it’s very important! 🙂

View Profile 2013-04-29 15:51:54 PDT

Hi Vicky,

In addition to my notes above, I’ll speak directly to your pitches:

1. I like the specificity of it. However, this: “What has come of the frothy, agave derived, alcoholic beverage?” assumes that I even know what pulqueria is. In fact, I don’t. So tell me about it really quickly. And give me something solid to grasp, like “The loss of this culture has had profound effects of the lower-class, leading to …. and …”

2. Solid pitch.

3. I don’t really understand what it is that you’d be writing. You’d have to set this up better, give me more specifics; tell me what your authority is on the subject. What format would this be in? Are you talking to any of the immigrants? To the police?

View Profile 2013-04-29 15:58:56 PDT

Hey Paris,

First, read my general notes above…….then…

1. I like how you showed your knowledge of Matador by pitching something to a running series…show’s you’re paying attention. One thing I’d do is flesh it out a bit more…actually include some of the headers that you’d include in the post.

2. Good pitch.

3. Good pitch. It’s focused and you state your connection to the story and given me an idea of what the article might look like (including interviews/quotes). Nice!


View Profile 2013-04-29 16:06:15 PDT

Hi Christopher…

In addition to my notes above…

1. Your first pitch is a bit of a run-on sentence, and is a little abstract in nature. There’s not much there for me to solidly grab onto (other than “book review”). In general too, if you have a look through Matador’s recent archives you’ll notice that we don’t publish book reviews (we used to, years ago). So, know who you’re pitching.

2. Better, but the angle is not really unique. I’m sure if you google’d this you’d come up with tons of articles about dealing with “career-thwarting habits.” Perhaps the Costanza bit is trying to make it unique, but if so, tell me what you’re talking about. Throw a title at me: “How George Costanza saved my travel writing career”

3. I’m not picking up what you’re throwing down, so to speak. I know you understand what you’re talking about, but don’t take it for granted that everyone else will. What is the “miniaturization of communication”? What does the internet have to do with cave paintings? I can kind of guess what you’re getting at, but don’t make me guess. Be explicit. Lay it out for me.

Maybe I’m wrong, but it looks like you’re trying to showcase your “writing prowess” in your pitches by being intentionally abstract/vague. In total truth, to me it comes off as a little flippant. Would love to see you come at this from another angle.


View Profile 2013-04-29 16:24:57 PDT

Hey Teran,

I like how you started it off with “Howdy” 🙂 That immediately brought some context into your pitch.

“Fort Worth, Texas offers a vast array of experiences ranging from arts and culture to our proud western heritage.” – This is kind of a throw-away line. It really doesn’t say anything about Fort Worth, Texas. How can you get my attention? How about giving me a totally obscure fact about the place. “Did you know that Fort Worth, Texas is the only city in the world that… ?”

Good job on pitching stories that you will have insider knowledge on, being a local.

“Below are subjects I believe would interest Matador Network and their readers” – You’re not really owning this…”I searched your archives and found that not much has been written about Fort Worth at Matador. I hope I can help fill that gap.” Also, (and this is getting picky, but details are important) “their” should be “its.”

1. Awesome job of pitching a 24 hours in… showing some knowledge on our content. “Fort Worth offers a wide array of activities that are unique to our city. From art museums and fine dining to cattle drives and honky tonks…” – This is very markety language, and if you’re really familiar with Matador you’ll notice that we don’t publish writing like this. This is exactly what you’d see in a tourist brochure (or hear on a tv spot by the tourism board). Think about it. Instead, talk like how you would normally talk. How would you say this if you were just talking to a friend? “Even if you could fit 7 days into 24 hours, you still wouldn’t get to do everything in Fort Worth. But 24 hours is better than nothing, and this is how I would spend it.”

2. Good pitch. Still, I would include a couple of those places with a small sample of an anecdote at one, maybe.

3. Again, same feedback as #2. The idea is solid, but the pitch needs some sprucing up. Make sure you’re giving me something more solid to work with.


View Profile 2013-04-29 16:39:17 PDT

Thanks all for taking part in this week’s lab. I know that a “pitch lab” is a little out of the ordinary…so without the precedent it’s hard to gauge exactly what was expected. I think having these pitch labs is a great idea and something that I think every student should try out – it’s a tough skill to get a good grasp on. I hope my feedback was helpful (and not too harsh!). Would love to hear any feedback you might have.

Happy writing everyone!


View Profile 2013-04-29 16:42:19 PDT