Happy Cinco De Mayo! The pseudo-holiday got me thinking about the need freelancers have to plan ahead. Publications work off editorial calendars, which often run months in advance. Content to go live this week about Margaritas and Coronas and good guacamole (YUM) has been planned well in advance.
For us freelancers, it's crucial to know the work flow pattern for the publication you hope to pitch. An outdated pitch will get sent directly to the trash bin by the editor you are pitching. They don't have the time not the patience to deal with writers who are unable to think ahead.
Your best bet is to find a publications editorial calendar and then create one of your own. Count back the days to when the publication will begin working on a specific topic. Then count back the amount of time it will take you to write the piece and add a couple extra days to send the pitch and get it accepted or tweaked by the writer.
With this mantra you're likely to be working on Back to School and Halloween pieces now. But that's ok. It'll stretch your creativity and help you hone the art of the pitch.