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Why rejection just might be good for you & other lessons I’ve learned this week

Of nine pitches I’ve sent out this week, I’ve received three rejections (the remaining six pitches haven’t had a response yet).*

I don’t like rejections, of course, but all three of these made sense:

-Rejection One:   The editor liked the idea but the particular department I was pitching within the magazine is about to be eliminated.

-Rejection Two:    The editor thought the idea was a bit too hyperlocal.

-Rejection Three:   The editor thought the idea was too specific.

As several friends and colleagues have recently noted, rejection is vastly preferred over the silent treatment, so the very fact that I received a response was enough to make me satisfied. I could rework my pitches and move on. But in two of the three cases, the editors went a step further, really taking time to interact with me in a meaningful and helpful way. One of the editors, with whom I’d worked before, told me that he knew the quality of my work and that even though this piece wasn’t a good fit, he remained open to me vetting other ideas.

The third editor, who I was querying for the first time, parsed my pitch in a way that helped me understand something about my own idea that I hadn’t quite realized before. We went through a couple rounds of email before he decided that the story wasn’t quite the right fit for his magazine, but the process was extremely valuable and I really appreciated the time he took to talk through ideas. I know that his insight will make my trip back to the drawing board both easier and more productive.

The take-away? Rejection is disappointing, but sometimes it can solidify your relationship with an editor and, in the process, help you clarify your own story ideas. Can you take their feedback gracefully and gratefully? Try it- you’ll be all the better for it.


The other take-away lesson of this week is something that contests my long-held belief that you should never pitch on a weekend (and that includes Friday). For the longest time, I thought Fridays were unproductive days for editors. I also followed the advice of writers with more experience, who suggested it wasn’t wise to pitch on the weekend or at some odd hour of the night (truth be told, that’s my most productive time, as everyone’s asleep and I have limited distractions).

Lately, I’ve been looking at my pitch and reply patterns, though, and an interesting trend has emerged. I’m getting far more replies on Fridays and weekends than I am on the pitches I send out on Tuesday or Wednesday, which I once thought were the best days to pitch.

There’s no science to this, of course, and my experience is exactly that– my experience. It may not be similar to yours and just because I’m getting responses at these “odd” times may not mean that the same would be true for you if you suddenly switched from early/mid-week pitching. But the take-away for me is that I don’t have to hold off on pitching until the supposedly “good” moment. When the pitch is solid and well-crafted, I’m going to fire it out of my writer’s cannon, regardless of the day or time.


What lessons have you learned from pitching lately? I’d love to hear from you in the comments. 

*In terms of response time, one week is really good (and two of the three rejections were received the same day I sent out my pitch), so the six no-replies don’t concern me yet.



9 responses »

  1. Definitely some great info and tips here. I’m impressed with the quickness of the responses as well. (I am sitting on unanswered ones from two and three months ago at this point…the worst thing is they are from an editor I had already worked with before.)

    I am going to pass this post along to my writers’ groups as I think this information is great for anyone pitching, not just those hoping to make it as a travel writer.

    • Erin-

      I’m glad you found this useful and thanks for sharing it. I should mention that of the three pitches, only one was really travel-focused; the other two were to science and tech magazines, so I do think the tips are relevant to writers of other genres.

  2. Thanks for sharing these lessons, Julie. I’m amazed by the speed of the replies – same week?! The rare rejections that I get (like many folks, I get silence a lot of the time) usually come at least a month later, maybe 1-2 months on average.

    • Eva-

      Actually, two of them were the same day and one of them was within 24 hours. I know- I was blown away as well. I think this is really just more evidence of the whole luck-timing-circumstance matrix we’ve discussed before. Does your query happen to hit the editor’s inbox at a time when she/he isn’t at wits’ end, distracted by a dozen other demands? I think I just got lucky, frankly. And having worked with two of the editors before may have helped (though the editor from Rejection 1 had not replied at all to one of my previous queries).

  3. I haven’t pitched (or written anything, really) for ages now but I do my best work after midnight. One time I was discussing a pitch over email with an editor at 3am when they told me to go to sleep because they were tired and I was keeping them up… Haha! I always thought that pitching at odd hours might mean that my email was sitting at the top when they checked their inbox in the morning. It’s great reading your perspective as an editor pitching to other editors – thanks for sharing!

  4. Congratulations on the rejections! I had three similar experiences last week. I don’t mind a rejection at all as long as I can learn from the experience. Another nugget of wisdom that one of the editors noted was this: Though they requested clips with a query (and I provided them), I have my website in my email signature, and the editor told me that he took the time to click through to learn more about me. Because of the quality of my website and portfolio, he specifically asked that I pitch him other ideas. It wasn’t from the clips or the query I sent but because he took the time to click on a link he didn’t ask for but that was present.

    • JoAnna-

      Those are the kinds of editors I really appreciate. Despite the fact that all editors are extremely busy, they take the time to really take a closer look at your work and portfolio. Thanks for adding that piece of advice.

  5. Thanks for sharing this Julie. Nine pitches in 1 week is inspiring! Rejections are always better than no-words for sure, and with the weekend pitching thing, many editors usually respond on Sunday evenings too, which I found weird but I’m definitely not complaining about.

    I love editors who are committed to the back-and-forth process to truly flesh out an idea, even if they end up no-going it. It at least shows flexibility on both ends.

    Good luck with the other six!


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