This month, I’ve had a really lucky streak when it comes to writing. I pitched three publications and got three acceptances. I hope this trend continues. And in the name of greater transparency (which the publishing industry, and actually, just about every industry, would benefit from), I want to share my pitch letters and also disclose how much I earned for each story.
Success one was Thrillist. My homie g and colleague Scott Gold has a steady gig writing for Thrillist, so their pieces are very much on my radar. I have a good sense of the Thrillist tone and style, I like to think. I was nosing around for contributor guidelines on their website and I saw Thrillist was looking to hire a health writer. Hey! I am a health writer. I even won a prize once. Anyway, I felt qualified enough to bang out the following cover letter.
Dear Marjorie Ajero and Thrillist folks:
I live in what might be the nation’s unhealthiest city: New Orleans. The land of drive-through daiquiri shops and 24-hour bars, it’s where millions of tourists get in touch with their most debauched selves. It’s also where I train for half-marathons and cover health as special sections editor at Gambit Weekly, New Orleans’ alt-weekly newspaper.
My favorite assignments involve offbeat takes on familiar health subjects. For example, everyone knows about LASIK, but how many people have heard of PRK, the surgery’s older, more painful predecessor? I wrote a firsthand account of my PRK surgery for Gambit last spring (and Youtubed the surgery footage). Another assignment saw me floating in a sensory deprivation tank — a therapy which many studies back as beneficial. In 2013, I won New Orleans’ Council of Alcohol & Drug Abuse’s media award for my coverage of addiction. I’ve also freelanced for clients including Conde Nast (BRIDES), Marriott Traveler, Fodor’s travel guides, xoJane.com, HelloGiggles.com and Zagat (as part of Google’s GeoEditorial team).
All in all, my readers might be drunken, costumed and more likely to suck down a Hand Grenade than a green smoothie. But I like to think my health reporting lets these hedonists live their best lives. That’s what I’d like to do for Thrillist readers.
Thank you for your consideration.
Then they contacted me and asked for pitches. I became very excited and sent these:
The pull-out method: man’s most underrated form of birth control?
We’ve heard the jokes. (What do you call men who use the pull-out method? Fathers.) And obviously, the pull-out method takes a little more, um, discipline than barrier or hormonal methods. But did you know that when used correctly, its fail rate (15 to 28 percent) is no worse than that of condoms, diaphragms and cervical caps? Here are more reasons why the pull-out method is a valid form of birth control—not just a punchline.
This classic New Orleans gym where Tennessee Williams worked out also has a full bar
New Orleans doesn’t hurt for places to drink: Bourbon Street bars, college bars, neighborhood bars, gay bars, sports bars…and then there are the bars that aren’t even in bars. You can get a cocktail or draft beer at New Orleans Athletic Club, a health club founded in 1872 that boasts Corinthian columns, chandelier-hung weight rooms, cast-iron detailing and celebrity clients (everyone from Kate Hudson to Clark Gable has worked out there). Of course, the bar offers smoothies—but hey, you just worked out. Everything in moderation, including healthy habits.
Burlesque fitness classes
They’re 2015’s answer to pole dancing classes, without the weird bruises. The New Orleans School of Burlesque launches this month, with sister schools in Chicago, New York and Seattle. Is burlesque a good workout? Do participants actually strip? Are guys welcome? Can you be the world’s next burlesque star? Together, we’ll explore this glittery world of pasties and boas.
Running while high: terrible idea or a genius one?
A 2014 paper published in the Journal of Cardiovascular Medicine shows you can booze it up without negatively affecting your performance level. Can the same be said for pot smoking? Could being high actually improve a runner’s high? I’ll be a guinea pig here.
How to mail yourself weed and not get busted
We’re living in a golden age for stoners… or, at least a Golden Pineapple age. But what if you’re not a lucky denizen of Washington or Colorado? Fear not, members of the unbaked 48— I’ve successfully mailed myself marijuana, and YOU CAN TOO. If you’re willing to commit a federal offense, read on for tips.
Taking care of a new tattoo while training for a race. Let’s say you have a long-distance race looming. You’re right in the middle of your training plan when, boom! That booked-up tattoo artist you follow on Instagram has an opening. Will you wreck your new ink if you work out in the days after getting tattooed? Will a large open wound compromise your physical stamina? I’ll weave in my experience getting a large-scale tattoo (I had sessions every two weeks for about a year) while training for my first half-marathon.
Of these pitches, Thrillist asked me to write the stoned running story, which I was delighted to accept. I was paid $100 for the assignment and offered three more. So that is pretty cool. STAY TUNED for more successful pitches. And maybe a blog entry about mailing yourself drugs. But probably not. But maybe.