One of my big pet peeves lately is people that don’t do what they say they’re going to do. It drives me nuts. My thought is—my time is very precious, and if I commit to something, I want to make sure it’s something I can reasonably accomplish. I don’t like making extra work for myself or anyone else if I don’t have to, but if something falls through, others have to pick up the slack. Sure, it’s much easier to do things halfway or blow them off completely, but the lack of effort comes through loud and clear to the wider world.
This is why I was totally shocked to learn how many freelancers simply let work slide. A similar approach is not following up, whether it’s with an editor, a recent business connection (which could be a possible client), or a colleague on a project’s status. How will you know the status of something if you don’t ask? How will you earn that business owner as a client or convince that editor that your story idea is worthwhile if you don’t show some interest in what they think? So many of us expect people to come to us, when in fact (particularly in the freelancing game), we have to find the opportunities for ourselves. Editors are busy people—once I caught on to the fact that it’s actually okay to send a gentle “Hey, are you interested in the story idea I sent you x number of weeks ago?”, I’m relentless with follow-ups. Normally I’ll send the original query with my follow-up email to make less work for the editor.
By the same token, there are plenty of newbie freelancers out there who are networking up a storm, but not following through on contacting some of these contacts about possible projects. People have short memories—most of them appreciate those friendly reminders such as “Great meeting you at the such-and-such mixer on Wednesday night. Hopefully we can collaborate in the future!”, or some other generic (but genuine) message. As writers, we need to keep our names and services out there, so contacts think of us first for upcoming projects. Although there are plenty of freelancers out there, you want to set yourself apart from the rest by trying to establish an actual relationship with your client, whether it’s an editor or a business. You want to set yourself apart from other freelancers by showing your enthusiasm, professionalism, and genuine interest in their publication or business.
What about you? Do you follow up on queries? Do you follow up with contacts? Any ideas for either that you’d care to share?