Monday, November 15, 2010

Knowing When to Say "When"

It’s no secret that unresponsive editors are one of my least favorite parts of the freelancing life—something I’ve blogged about in past posts. Although I’m pretty persistent with following up, sometimes all the emails in the world won’t elicit a response.

On the other hand, there are those markets that just seem impossible to crack—the markets that consistently do respond with “This isn’t quite right for us” or “Thanks for submitting but we’re going to pass”. No matter how great your idea or how polished your pitch(es), it could take months or even years to break into some of the higher-paying consumer markets. As far as I know, sometimes it’s just a matter of luck to break in with just the right idea for a particular editor.

These two reasons are why I’ve taken stock of some of the markets I’ve pitched (unsuccessfully) multiple times. There’s one in particular whose editor takes weeks to respond, even after several follow-up emails. I’ve pitched about 3 or 4 ideas over the past few months, and I’ve had to send multiple messages trying to gauge the editor’s interest. I finally got responses for the first few ideas; the last pitch got me nowhere (luckily, I’ve since sold it to another market!) I’m persistent when I believe in my idea and feel it’s story-worthy, but I also know when to say when. I’ve taken the advice of several other freelancers and will send a final email saying “I would appreciate a response by [day]; otherwise I’ll submit my idea elsewhere”. In this case, that didn’t get a response either so I went ahead and pitched it somewhere else, and that market bought it.

What about you? Are there any markets that you’ve given up trying to pitch? Any chance of trying them at another time?

1 comment:

  1. I think it's important not to waste too much time trying to break into publications that don't respond to you. But then again, you never know, one of my highest paying assignments came from a magazine that didn't reply to my query until three months had passed by (even though I followed up with them twice). One of the toughest aspects of freelancing is all the waiting - waiting for a response from a query, waiting to get paid, etc. That's one of the biggest draws of repeat assignments. You can get the ball rolling faster when they already know and trust you.