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Why An Editor Deleted Your Freelance Pitch

woman freelance writing article pitch

July 31, 2018 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

As a freelance writer, getting through to an editor is one of the toughest parts you’ll experience. When you don’t know the editor personally or through a referral, eliciting a response from your article pitch can be a challenge. Remember, the editor is juggling many hats and likely receives over 200 emails a day from publicists, colleagues, and newswires.

Writing a great article pitch is so important. (That’s why it’s one of the tasks I help freelance students with in my Freelance Writing Online Course “Get Paid to Write.”)

In this freelance writing blog post, I’ll share the reasons why you might not hear back from an editor on an article pitch you sent. (I’ll tackle why publicists might not hear back from an editor or writer on their pitch in a separate blog post in the future.)

Hopefully, these mistakes won’t cause an editor to delete your email. But, when an editor is super busy, they probably won’t take the time to say “No, thanks,” or, let you know why they are rejecting it.

You spelled the editor’s name wrong.

This could result in a) them not even receiving the email if you made a mistake in the email address, or b) them deleting your email. While that sounds harsh (I got called “Kelly” all the time by PR people, luckily not writers) the thinking may be “If this writer can’t get my name right, how can I trust them to get the facts needed for an article or turn in a clean piece of copy?”

You attached a completed article.

While I admire your gumption, this screams amateur. Unless you’re submitting an essay and the editorial requirements request a full essay (perhaps The New York Times’ Modern Love column), don’t write the article before you have an assignment.

Freelance writers share their number-one success tip.

You mentioned your rates.

Again, another amateur move that you might not know about as a beginner freelance writer. Don’t mention how much you’ll charge or how much you want for the article. It’s not something professional freelance writers do until they are in negotiations with an editor they’ve heard back from.

You weren’t clear about interviewing sources.

When I was an assigning editor, I usually didn’t need to know exactly who a writer was interviewing for a story, but I wanted to make sure we were on the same page. I might have included in the pitch “I’ll interview relationship experts like psychologists or psychiatrists” or, “I’ll reach out to a certified personal trainer for abs exercises,” or, “I’d like to interview the author of this [specific book that just came out] or someone similar.” That let’s the editor know that you don’t think you are the expert (another rookie freelance writer mistake) but that you’ll interview sources to get the best material for the article. 

Here are some freelance article pitches that editors approved.

You didn’t address the timing issue.

In journalism, print magazines, and editorial websites, editors want to know why you’re pitching a particular article idea right now. “Why this, why now?” Is it timely due to news trends? Mention that. Is it a winter weight loss pitch for their January print issue? Specify that. Did you just get back from a trip and experience a problem you want to solve with an article, and think their readers could relate? Tell the editor. The topic you have may be evergreen, like “How to Fall Asleep Faster” but let the editor know that, and link to recent research that supports a claim you plan to make in the feature.

You attached photos.

This might be a personal pet peeve but I hated it when writers (or publicists) attach large photos to an article. It jams up my inbox and is a surefire way to have the email deleted before I even read it. Don’t do this. If your article will require photos, wait to hear from an editor first and then ask if they’d like you to attach some.


What to do when you don’t hear back from your freelance pitch.

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