What do you do when you get a rejection from an editor telling you your article idea isn’t fresh? I used to try reslanting the query for different publications, only to receive a similar rejection. An alternative approach is to recast your idea in a completely new context and submit it to publications serving totally different readerships where your idea is new, different and fresh. This approach has worked well for me the past year.
For example, last summer I was trying to reduce my household energy consumption. (Houston air conditioning bills are horrendous.) I read a lot and got lots of ideas from friends. I decided to use what I had learned and submitted queries to home magazines and women’s magazines. Heck, I even tried a couple of men’s magazines that occasionally covered home issues. All my queries were declined, usually because my idea “wasn’t fresh.”
Then I tried querying industry trade magazines. I altered my pitch to saving energy in laboratory and office buildings. Bingo! The editor of “Lab Manager” accepted my query with the resulting 1,800-word article to be published in the April issue. Many of my suggestions are new and different because I made them fit the laboratory context. I interviewed a well-known energy conservation expert and related home energy conservation recommendations to laboratories and covered a keynote lecture he gave at a major conference.
After Angela gave me the assignment to write this article, I took another query rejected for lack of fresh ideas, “The 6 C’s of Freelancing Success,” and turned it into a query for a career management article entitled “The 6 C’s of Career Success.” It will be published in an American Chemical Society newsletter this summer. This was more than reslanting a query rejected because the idea wasn’t fresh. The 6 C’s were the section headings and remained the same. However, industrial chemistry is very different than freelancing and does not take place in a self-employment environment. Therefore, my explanations and examples of the 6 C’s were totally different than I had planned for my original query. My stale idea became a fresh take on solving some common chemistry career problems.
John Borchardt is a freelance writer who covers science, technology, business and career management in today’s era of continuous corporate reengineering. More than 1,100 of his articles have appeared in magazines, newspapers, encyclopedias and online. He is also the author of the book Career Management for Scientists and Engineers.