Good things come to those who wait? Not in my world. Good things come to she who contacts an editor every couple of months with a pitch, a new slant, a pleasant reminder that she’s still out there.
One of the most important things a writer can do is build up her Persistence muscle, a hunk of flesh that will get quite the workout, but must keep on flexing in order to become – and remain – successful.
I am relied on by editors of several newspapers and some magazines in my area. I wanted to write for one particular local magazine, to be in the editor’s stable of reliables, so I wrote a query. Already familiar with the content of his publication (which you know is the first step!), I included three ideas, found his e-mail on the magazine’s website, and clicked “send.”
His response? Crickets. Not even a form letter/e-mail.
Time to flex my Persistence. I marked my calendar for two months away: “Contact Magazine Editor again.”
And I did…Still nothing.
Write. Send. Repeat.
The third time, he responded: “Thanks, but these don’t fit our current needs.” What a great sentence! At least I knew he read my e-mail. More importantly, he was getting to know me.
More bimonthly calendar entries led to more rejections, each more personal than the last, often telling me I barely missed.
And then, SUCCESS! After a year of bimonthly e-mails, HE contacted ME and asked me to do two briefs for an annual “best of” issue. Though I hadn’t gotten the assignments I previously pitched, he remembered me and offered me a foot in the door. I completed the assignment timely, e-mailed it to him with my invoice, and then, a week later, sent him more queries.
Of that batch, he asked to see a draft for the back page essay topic I suggested. I wrote it; he liked it, printed it and paid me.
Soon after, he sent an e-mail to all the writers he relies on, including me, for suggestions for the next year’s “best of” issue. I submitted four and he accepted. Another assignment, another paycheck.
The moral of this story: unless the editor tells you not to, don’t stop putting yourself and your ideas in front of him. Pacing is important so you don’t annoy, but being politely persistent with good ideas and professionalism will eventually pay off.
Tara Lynn Johnson spends her time writing in the Philadelphia region and at the Delaware beaches. In addition to freelancing for regional newspapers (including The Philadelphia Inquirer) and magazines, she’s working on three books (memoir/personal essay) and persisting in her goal of being published in a national magazine. To that end, she has received hand-written rejection notes from editors at well-known women’s magazines, which encourage her to keep trying. She knows she’ll get there! Visit Tara at her website, https://www.taralynnjohnson.com, at her Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/taratlj) and on Twitter (https://twitter.com/taralynnjohnson@taralynnjohnson).
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