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Q&A: Why Are My Article Pitches Getting Rejected?


Welcome to another installment of Ask The Editor!

Today I cull once again through the copious questions from my email inbox, and pull another one that I hear frequently enough that it belongs in an FAQ somewhere:

Q. Why do my article pitches and guest posting efforts get rejected? Sometimes I don’t even get a response!

A. Big sigh. I actually hear this question from writers and bloggers fairly frequently……and generally speaking there are a couple of reasons that are most commonly cited by fellow Editors.

When is ignoring a pitch the best choice? When I don’t want to crush someone’s dreams, or fall even further behind in my own job.

But before I answer, I first turn the tables on the questioner, and ask them three questions:

  1. Did you read enough articles from the outlet you’ve queried to believe that your article is a perfect fit for them?
  2. Are you qualified to write that article?
  3. Did you follow the submission guidelines to the LETTER?

You’d be surprised at how often the answer to at least one (if not all) of those questions is a “no, but….“.

The answer should never be “no” to any of those questions, and there are no “buts” allowed, period.

From the conversations I’ve had with a number of other Editors that I associate with both professionally as well as socially, nearly all of them echo my response.

They (and I) receive far more inappropriate or incorrectly submitted pitches than ones they can accept. Most agree that it’s almost always due to an article that is a poor fit for what they publish, one that demonstrates a lack of expertise on the subject, or the author simply failed to read their submission guidelines, let alone follow them.

Case in point: Here at TWE, I get at least one, sometimes two, pitches for guest posts on a daily basis. 99% of them demonstrate that the person pitching has not spent any time at all reading what we publish here, and also – remarkably – ignored the submission guidelines entirely.

Instead of following the instructions to send me their topic ideas and suggestions, they do what I specifically ask them to NOT do, which is send a full article. Further, they ignore my statement that we do NOT print destination articles, nor any that promote a specific travel supplier. And still I get full, 2000 word destination stories. Articles about the benefits of a particular travel insurance company. Reviews on overseas transportation companies.

And I don’t even want to get started on queries from someone who just took up writing or blogging last week, and, with almost no experience, wants to advise others on how to get started. Sigh. I do love enthusiasm, I don’t love having to say “no thank you”, whatever the reason.

And this is where it gets really difficultto respond, or to not respond?

A huge part of me – and this is another sentiment that many of my fellow Editors agree with – wants to write a nice, diplomatic, helpful reply telling them why we cannot publish their article, and offer suggestions for where they might try to pitch to instead. I actually used to do this for each submission, but it began taking up most of my day. I realized that I was getting far behind in my own schedule, and simply could not take time to respond to people who couldn’t take the time to follow the clearly written instructions, sad as I might be about that.

And yes, if you’re wondering, there is a small part of me that just wants to hit reply and say “REALLY??? What part of “no destination articles” and “please don’t send your article through this form” did you NOT understand???“…….sigh….but I would hate myself if I did that, and I don’t want to be in the business of crushing dreams.

Which is why many of us choose to simply not respond.

There are times when ignoring someone seems like a better choice than venting our frustration with them via email, or taking the time to be nice but running the risk of not completing all those tasks we’re constantly juggling in our busy days.

So the next time you’ve pitched an article to a publication or a blog, and haven’t heard back, ask yourself the three questions above. If you can honestly answer “yes” to both, then by all means do follow up with the Editor – your pitch may have simply fallen through some digital cracks.

But if you’ve answered “no” to either question, then quit blaming the Editor and make sure your next pitch is done correctly.

~ Trisha

A tough issue indeed, but I’d love to hear your opinions!