As writers and editors, taking rejection in stride is basically part of our DNA. No matter how much you love a pitch, there’s always a good chance it’ll get a pass from your editor. But, obviously, being rejected several times a row is discouraging.
To help, we asked a handful of editors exactly what you should do when your pitches keep getting vetoed. You can thank us later.
1. Consider Your Audience
“Audience is everything, so make sure you’re pitching accordingly. If your editor has expressed their readership is mostly made up of females between the ages of 40 and 55, you don’t want to be tossing out ideas you think will appeal to millennial men. The piece has to fit the publication, not the other way around.” —Christine Skopec, Senior Editor at The Cheat Sheet
2. Ask For Feedback
“If your editor isn’t explaining why she is passing on your pitches, ask! Without feedback, you’ll never know where you’re missing the mark. Then adjust your topic, angle, or style accordingly.” —Alyssa Sparacino, Web Editor at Shape and Fitness Magazine
3. Take Time To Plan Out Your Story
“I’m more inclined to approve pitches when it feels like you also have done the legwork. It comes back to knowing the audience. Give me a working hed, the gist of the pitch, and—bonus points—another way you envision the piece should the original idea not work. Help me say yes.” —Samantha Leal, Senior Editor at MarieClaire.com
4. Do your research
“Become as familiar with the site as your editor, or at the very least, do a quick Google search. If all of your pitches are things we’ve already covered on the site extensively, or just wrote about yesterday, it’s fair to assume you didn’t do your (very easy) homework.” —Alyssa Sparacino
5. Know The Outlet’s Top Performers
“It sounds absurdly simple, but have you asked for specific examples of stories that have done well in the past? In almost every case, an editor is going to be able to think of half a dozen pieces right off the top of their head.” —Christine Skopec
6. Ask your editor about the content calendar
“A lot of times I get cold pitches on topics that aren’t in the realm of what we cover in the magazine. If they asked first, I could have explained what I am working on and sent them some examples before they sent something that would never work.” —Melissa Bykofsky, Senior Editor at Redbook and Woman’s Day
7. Don’t Stop Pitching
“Sometimes it just comes down to timing—the idea may have gotten approved but we might already have something similar in the works or some such. And, actually, if I keep rejecting your pitches because they’re similar to things we already have, that’s kind of a good thing. Just keep pitching—the payoff of a freelancer is being savvy, but also being strategic. More (good! Researched! Not one-liner!) ideas gives me more reasons to approve.” —Samantha Leal
Kelsey Mulvey is a New York writer and commerce reporter at Business Insider. She has written for several publications such as The Wall Street Journal, Time Out New York, LuckyMag.com, Wallpaper.com. Check out more of her work at KelseyMulveyWrites.comand follow her on Instagram and Twitter.