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Pitch, Bitch: A new initiative for women writers

by Veronica Sullivan , May 31, 20146 Comments

Pitch, Bitch is a new initiative aimed at encouraging female writers to regularly pitch their work for publication. Founder Estelle Tang explains what Pitch, Bitch is, why it’s important, and how to get involved.

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What is Pitch, Bitch?

Pitch, Bitch is an informal mentoring resource for female writers, centring on the first Wednesday of each month, which will be Pitch, Bitch day. Pitch, Bitch day is a gentle, friendly exhortation to female writers to, on that day, send out, research or work on a pitch. It’s a modest but, I think, useful tool. You can follow along with the #pitchbitch hashtag on Twitter. There’s also a Tumblr (http://yeahpitchbitch.tumblr.com), which will contain advice, interviews and comment on the topic of pitching. 

What prompted you to create the #pitchbitch hashtag last year, and what you were hoping to address by doing so?

A couple of years ago, I attended an International Women’s Day panel discussing Women In Print. The discussion was sparked by the woeful VIDA statistics, which showed the proportion of men and women who were being published, and women were vastly underrepresented. At that event, Sophie Cunningham, then editor of Meanjin, mentioned that she received many more pitches from men than from women. She also mentioned that women were reluctant to tackle subjects they saw themselves as non-experts on, whereas men usually tackled such subjects without compunction.

Of course, there are all kinds of reasons why this kind of systemic underrepresentation occurs: it’s the responsibility of editors and readers, as well as writers themselves, to include a diverse range of writers and perspectives in their pages. But I wanted to look at the aspects of this phenomenon that writers ourselves can control: our own pitching behaviour.

So I started an impromptu hashtag, #ladypitch (which I have eschewed for the more hilariously vulgar #pitchbitch), and used it to tag some (hopefully) encouraging tweets aimed at getting female writers to think about pitching.

What initial response did the hashtag receive? Were you surprised by it? 

It received a great response. I don’t think it changed the world, but it clearly hit a nerve for a lot of people. I wasn’t necessarily surprised that people found it appealing, but I am always surprised and somewhat dismayed how much female writers (including me) are reluctant to step forward or get in touch with editors or even just acknowledge to themselves that their ideas are good and marketable. Of course, there are heaps of female writers who pitch and work constantly, and I don’t mean to say that all female writers need this kind of community. But I personally would never have started writing professionally if editors hadn’t reached out to me first, indicating that my work was worth something. I wanted to pre-empt that a little bit.

I don’t know if anyone actually went to ground and started working on a pitch that day, but I remember thinking at the time how much more effective it could be if it was a regular event.

Do you think gender often affects the way writers think about themselves and their pitching process? Do you see differences in the ways your male and female colleagues approach editors or share their work? 

I don’t have any personal experience of this – apart from my own lack of confidence or sense of opportunity, which I mentioned above. But I have heard from many editors anecdotally that pitching and being published has some very real gendered influences and effects. I’ve heard, again anecdotally, that male writers – and god bless good male writers, I’m not having a go at them – don’t see rejection as so fatal, don’t feel the need to be experts in an area to tackle it, and pitch more than female writers. In a more general professional sense, the Atlantic article about a so-called “confidence gap” shows that even female executives, who are extremely talented and skilled individuals, think of themselves differently to their male peers.

Honestly, I think this sucks. I want female writers to know that they’re not alone in feeling inadequate/unworthy/like newbie, but that it also doesn’t have to be that way.

You’re a staff writer for Rookie magazine, which is written by and for young women. Does Rookie’s outlook and the way it operates differ from other publications? How do any differences manifest in Rookie’s public and internal operations?

God, I feel like Rookie actually changes the world a bit every day. I know that sounds hyperbolic, but readers see so many diverse, interesting and mostly female voices there. I can’t speak for the editors, but I know they care very much about the reading community of teenage girls, and women, and I feel like Rookie presents supportive, fascinating, intimate stories the likes of which you can’t really find anywhere else. I love the comments section. It’s one of the few comment sections I’ve ever seen where people have actual respectful conversations.

If male writers and editors want to support Pitch, Bitch, how can they do so?

Please refrain from tweeting me with the #notallmen hashtag. I really mean it.

I would love to hear from male editors who are looking to publish more female writers. I would love to see male writers passing the word on to their female colleagues and communities.

How can women writers, editors and other literary and publishing ladies get involved with Pitch, Bitch?

The Tumblr will be running interviews, advice and any other relevant links/comments/conversations with female writers and editors. I would love to hear from anyone interested in contributing or who would like me to cover a certain aspect of pitching and writing! The best way to get in touch with me about this is the Tumblr Ask box (yeahpitchbitch.tumblr.com/ask) or fan mail.

If you are using #pitchbitch to spur your work, please tweet and use the hashtag! It will help other female writers to know they’re not alone. Let’s talk about this! The best outcome would be that female writers feel more connected to each other, able to ask questions, free to talk about success and failure, and contact editors and eventually get published.

How often does Pitch, Bitch run?

Once a month! Every first Wednesday of the month. June 4 will be our first. Get involved, please! Hope to see you around the traps.

Where can we find more information?

Our Tumblr is yeahpitchbitch.tumblr.com.

 

Kill Your Darlings is the Pitch, Bitch media partner.




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