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.