If your pitches are consistently bringing back rejections, there are only three reasons why.
If you’re not getting enough work as a freelancer or finding it impossibly hard to crack the nationals, it’s for one, two, or all of the following reasons:
- You’re not pitching enough.
- You’re not pitching the right people.
- Your pitches suck.
Let’s talk about that.
You’re not pitching enough
Inexperienced freelancers will often send out one pitch or LOI and think that’s it. However, if you’re serious about cracking the nationals that’s just the very first baby step.
We’ve all heard stories about how it took someone years to break into a publication. What were they doing for all those years? No, sitting around waiting is not the correct answer. They were sending pitches and, most likely, repeatedly getting rejected.
In my case studies series, I talk about how it was years before I was able to break into TIME. Persistence was the only reason I got there in the end.
If you want to crack the nationals, keep pitching. Send a story idea, wait a couple of weeks, then follow up. If they respond with a rejection, great! Send more ideas. If the editor emails and says she’d love to hear from you again, fantastic! Send more ideas immediately and take it as a personal request that you keep pitching after every rejection. If you don’t get a response at all, follow up or send more ideas.
Keep sending more ideas.
Quick fix: Send 25 queries in a week. (I can show you how.)
You’re not pitching the right people
One of the best skills you need to learn is how to “read the masthead.”
A decade ago, when we didn’t all have 400 emails to sift through daily, if you emailed the wrong person on the masthead, they’d often connect you with the right person to pitch. These days, it would be rare if that were to happen.
Reaching the right person, the decision maker, is key. You could have done everything right and be perfect for the assignment you’re proposing. But if you’re not getting through to the right person, it won’t matter.
An easy way to get your foot in the door and crack the nationals is to network with other writers. Hang out in social media groups and engage in conversations so that you know the right people to target. Some of it is just about honing your research skills.
Quick fix: Never send a pitch to a generic “info” address. Those are black holes. Always find the right person to pitch, even if it takes a bit of time.
Your pitches suck
This, of course, is something you can fix and fix easily. If the reason your queries are getting rejected is that they’re ineffective, all you have to do is learn how to write good ones.
The problem is, most writers don’t actually realize their pitches suck. One of the best ways I’ve found to improve my queries is to read and learn from successful ones.
Quick fix: The only way to convert your ineffective pitches to saleable ones is to learn what makes them good. Once you have that knowledge, your acceptance rate goes up substantially. (I have a step-by-step method that has helped thousands of writers break into top publications within days. Read all about it here.)
If your query letters are consistently bringing back rejections and/or silences, there are only three reasons.
Fix them, and you’ll be well on your way to cracking the nationals.
Natasha Khullar Relph
Founder and Editor, The Wordling
Natasha Khullar Relph is an award-winning journalist and author with bylines in The New York Times, TIME CNN, BBC, ABC News, Ms. Marie Claire, Vogue, and more. She is the founder of The Wordling, a weekly business newsletter for journalists, authors, and content creators. Natasha has mentored over 1,000 writers, helping them break into dream publications and build six-figure careers. She is the author of Shut Up and Write: The No-Nonsense, No B.S. Guide to Getting Words on the Page and several other books.
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