By Terreece M. Clarke
I forget where I read it, but some writer once said that 9 times out of 10 your article pitch is going to be rejected. So, in essence, live for the 10%. While a bit pessimistic, the overall sentiment is right on. Rejection is as much a part of freelance writing as Wi-Fi and coffee, though there is a difference in the types of rejection letter a writer can receive.
FIRM AND INFORMAL
It’s a No. The rejection letter in all of its 10th generation photocopy, “Dear Writer,” addressed glory arrives with the daily mail. It’s firm, it’s informal and this type of rejection usually means your query letter never made it past the intern or editoral assistant. Ditto for the lightening fast email reply with the rejection template keyed in. (Is it just me or does it sting more when you’re rejected by hot key?)
This rejection letter should make you re-examine your query to look for obvious issues including a less than interesting subject or angle. If you’re letter is pitch perfect, look at the publication. Did your query fit the pub? Have they covered the topic recently? Does your pitch appeal to their target audience in both subject matter and tone? If after all of your analysis you still are at a loss for why the item was rejected, take it with a grain of salt – article pitches are rejected for a variety of reasons. Regroup and hit another publication that would be interested.
A DOOR OPENING
It still may be a form letter or a email template, but the editor has personalized it. They’ve added a note or two giving an explanation on why your query was rejected – the tone is not quite right, the subject is already in upcoming edition, etc. This means that while they can’t use the pitch, they wouldn’t object to you giving it another try with something different. It’s an encouraging sign.
A REVOLVING DOOR
One of my favorite rejections occurs when they can’t use your pitch, but ask you to write a different article. It’s a surprise, just when you thought you were on your way out the door it swings around to the other side. The satisfaction of scoring a gig from them should nullify the sting of another magazine turning down your “10 Best Enema Products” pitch.
Rejections are a part of a freelance writer’s life [Cue theme to "Facts of Life"], but the quality of the rejection letter is a good indication of where to go from “No.”
Everyone’s got a rejection story, what’s yours?