The no. 1 reason editors don’t respond to writers right away is because they’re too busy juggling the many other demands of their jobs.
That’s what I found when I started a freelance editing gig, and what I heard from other editors after I wrote that post on the subject not long ago.
So, one freelancer wrote in after reading the post, is there anything that would get an editor to respond to me right away?
Good question. I asked some editor friends for their opinions on what it takes to get them to reply immediately to a writer’s letter of introduction, pitch or completed manuscript.
One says the best way to get a fast response from her is to have a killer story pitch, one “that’s so perfectly honed to the editor’s needs it’s irresistible.” Unfortunately, she doesn’t encounter those very often. “Pitches like that are like snow leopards: hard to spot and in danger of extinction,” she says. “But I get them from time to time, usually from people….who completely understand what the publication needs, and with whom I’ve already had discussions that narrow the topic range.”
Fast Cash Freelance addressed the same topic in this recent post, saying it takes more than a good idea for an editor to bite. According to the post, writers are most likely to hear back from editors if they have access to hard-to-reach sources (think celebrities or CEOs), expertise or first-hand knowledge of a particular topic, or can demonstrate their ability to do tough research to back up a pitch. Dependability, clever word crafting, speed and a contrarian streak aren’t bad either.
In the recent past, I’ve had editors say “yes” to pitches in less than 24 hours on several occasions. Once I started following a high-profile management expert and business columnist on Twitter right before the pub date of her latest business book. After she followed me back, I introduced myself and inquired whether she’d make herself available for an interview about the book and herself. When she said yes, I immediately pitched a Q&A to an editor at a business publication I’d started to write for, and got a yes within a day.
Another time I started following a publisher on Twitter, she followed me back, and based on something I’d seen her tweet, I asked if she’d be interested in a pitch on a related subject. She said yes and DM’d me the name and email of an editor to pitch. I sent a query the same day, and wound up with an assignment less than 24 hours later.
There’s something to be said with being in the right place at the right time, or responding quickly when you get even the smallest opening. But that only works if you understand the publication you’re pitching to, or the subject matter, or preferably both. In other words, do your homework. Then follow through by filing your story on time and error free – so the next time that editor sees an email with your name on it in their inbox, they’ll make the time to look at it and reply right away.