|Do you view editors as |
ogres who take pleasure
in trashing your work?
On Jia’s first day of rejection therapy (Watch the Video), for example, he attempted to borrow $100 from a stranger and was immediately rejected with a no. If you watch the footage, you can see that Jia is quite nervous and is relieved that the stranger, who appears to be a security guard, only says no without getting angry or pulling out a gun.
Something Jia fails to notice, however, is that the security guard does not, in fact, just say no. He also asks him a question: Why?
But Jia is so focused on his goal of rejection that he just walks away, perhaps missing the opportunity to gain the interest or sympathy of the security guard, who might actually be persuaded to lend him the $100 if he understands why he needs it.
As you can see, Jia has painted a picture of this man in his head of a scary authority-figure who has the ability to crush him. He thus approaches him in a way that sets himself up for rejection without even considering the possibility that he might actually be interested in what he has to say.
A lot of writers exhibit the same complex when it comes to editors. They do not think of editors as regular people with children and a mortgage who go grocery shopping and scrub the kitchen sink after dinner. Instead they are ogres sporting evil grins whose sole purpose in life is to trash your work and make you feel like a lowly beggar for having the audacity to seek publication in their magazines.
When you approach an editor with feelings of fear and inferiority, this is likely to show in your writing.
My husband, who is a sales and marketing professional, has advised me numerous times not to write things like, “Sorry to bother you” in an e-mail. He says people often write such phrases with the idea they are being polite, but that it gives one the appearance of having done something wrong. Subconsciously, an editor may believe you are a weak writer when you continuously apologize or subtly put yourself down by mentioning your lack of experience, your lack of education, your lack of clips, or anything else that you may lack. I don’t know about you, but I would certainly feel reluctant to hire someone who kept telling me how unqualified they were.
Did you notice how quickly Jia cut short his interaction, which is essentially a pitch, with the security guard?
Did you notice the lack of introduction?
Personally speaking, I wouldn’t be very inclined to loan a stranger $100 either, unless I felt there was a strong reason to do so. If Jia had introduced himself in a friendly manner and perhaps explained some difficulty he was having (desperately needed to have his car towed, for example), this would have established some degree of trust and rapport between the two parties.
As an editor and occasional outsourcer, though, I have had the experience of writers and others sending me form e-mails that are impersonal and do not take the time to explain why I should be interested in their services. These individuals are so focused on their own needs (getting published or making money) that they forget that any work they do is supposed to serve the needs of the magazine or business. They forget that I need to trust them before I can even think about assigning them an article or job.
Successful pitches are clear, succinct, and show that the writer has enough confidence to handle an assignment.
Here are some things to reflect on:
- Remember that editors are regular people like you and me. What’s more, they need talented writers to make contact with them so that they have enough material to publish. If they fail to get enough material for a magazine issue, they will often end up having to write it themselves. In effect, they are looking for reasons to accept, not reject, your articles, but you must convince them that you are the right person for the job.
- If an editor does happen to reject your work, understand that they are not doing so to be mean or spiteful. They are simply acting in the best interests of the magazine at the time. Take your idea to another publication, or pitch another idea entirely. Be objective about your pitches to see if you have conveyed your ideas clearly.
- Remove self-deprecating language from your correspondence with editors. Talk about what you can do – not what you can’t.
- Add a touch of personality to your queries and pitches. Your queries should be tailored to the particular publication and show that you are enthusiastic about your work.
Been rejected lately? Share your insights by leaving a comment.