Don’t Argue With Editors After Rejection By Angela Hoy

I’m a writer and, like all of you, I’ve received my fair share of rejection letters. And, like most of you, I take them in stride and move on to the next market.

However, I’m also an editor and publisher. I’d like to share some advice on how not to ruin your chances of writing for a publication. I receive, on average, about a dozen queries each week. Unfortunately, I must reject most of them. Some of them may propose topics we’ve already published over the past year or two while others may simply be full of typos. The vast majority of queries just don’t fit our editorial focus.

Most writers of rejected queries thank me for my consideration and then pitch future articles. However, a few writers write back and voice their disagreement with my decision. They then try to explain to me why their article actually does fit our editorial focus…when I’ve already rejected it because it does not.

My opinion on this quandary is simple. If we must twist an idea a multitude of ways to make it appear to serve our readers, it’s not going to serve our readers.

Last week, a writer queried me on an article targeting an entirely different type of professional. I politely explained by sending this note back to her: “I’m sorry but this is too far out of our editorial focus and only a small segment of our readership would qualify for such work anyway.”

Her long-winded response told me I was wrong and she wrapped up her note with “How about it?”

I’ll admit I was pretty offended. She’d never written for us before and she’d already sent us a query that didn’t meet our guidelines. Now she was wasting my time by trying to tell me she knows our audience better than I do. While I don’t like to be harsh, I’ll never hire her to write anything for us. Nothing bothers an editor more than a writer, who’s never written for that publication before, trying to convince the editor that they know that editor’s readers better than the editor.

Here’s my response: “Please don’t take this the wrong way, but I know our readership and I know this article is not right for us. It would only serve a very small portion of them. We publish articles that serve the majority of our readers, not the minority.”

An editor knows their audience. If you must try to convince an editor that your article does match their editorial needs, when they know it does not, you’re pretty much kissing away any chance of writing for that publication in the future.

If your article is rejected, rather than wasting your time arguing with the editor, pitch that query to a more appropriate publication. Later, using the information you obtained about the initial publication, try pitching a story more appropriate to their audience.