Friday, August 21, 2009

When Should You Give Up on an Assignment?

I've been doing my best to follow my own advice and do just about everything I listed in Monday's post. I've had a fairly productive summer, considering the economy and belt-tightening that most markets seem to be doing. I've also hit a personal best as far as the amount of queries I've been sending out. I've even been rigorous with sending out follow-up emails to editors.

The problem is that even some of my follow-ups aren't getting me anywhere. I can name at least three editors who have gotten at least two follow-up emails from me about specific queries, and I've received exactly zilch in reply.

So should I just give up, or hope that the editor responds eventually?

I should say that two of the publications are regional, so I wouldn't be able to retool the query and sell the idea somewhere else. The third was for a trade publication--also specialized--so again, it would be difficult to try and sell the idea to a market with a broader readership. I did send an earlier query to one of the editors. She rejected my idea but asked if I would be interested in covering something else for them. The wording confused me a bit--did this mean she'd assign me something, or would I have to come up with the idea? I responded as such, but just to cover myself, I included a few story ideas. This was early July, and again, there's been nothing from her--a formal query with the new ideas and 2 follow up emails later!

It's been my experience that if the editor wants your article, they respond within a week at the absolute latest. Since it's literally been months since some of these queries were sent, should I continue to pursue these markets or put it on the editors?

How do you handle unresponsive editors?


  1. "It's been my experience that if the editor wants your article, they respond within a week at the absolute latest."

    I've had some editors make assignments after being MIA for months! Following up can help, but ultimately they'll make the assignment when they're ready, especially nationals because they often assign by committee. So, it's probably good for your psyche if you move on, but you never know when you might land an assignment months (or somethings even years) later!

  2. You're right, Susan. I had one editor accept my pitch 6 months after I sent him the query. I'd forgotten that I'd even sent the query!