While the entire world may be living online now, there is still high esteem accorded to print publications. Even in the digital age, print magazines still carry some weight. However to get into the hallowed pages of a glossy magazine, (or for that matter an incredibly popular blog) you need to be prepared.
If you have been rejected by a publication, it’s a good practice to politely ask why. Here are some common consolations, just so you don’t get too miserable and disappointed.
There is not enough space
Blogs tend to have a lot more flexibility when it comes to publication. Good old-fashioned print publications tend to have a set amount of space for advertising and editorial that is set in stone. In the latter case, it’s first in best dressed. So be aware of editorial deadlines. Get in before the mad rush to ensure that you have a better chance of publication.
It doesn’t conform to their editorial policy
This is a broad one. It’s the standard response when a writer sends through a pitch but he or she hasn’t bothered to do any homework first. Here’s a couple of essentials that will save a lot of rejections.
- Review the publication and determine the writing style.
- Take note of previous topics covered.
- Take note of the editorial policy and respect it, i.e. no first person stories, word count, etc.
- Determine whether your subject matter fits in with their tone of voice. If you get the feeling that it would be better pitched elsewhere, then listen to that feeling.
They have recently published something similar
This is why it’s so important to do your homework beforehand.
There is a subtle conflict of interest
Perhaps your idea, product or service is too sensitive for the publication’s target audience? Perhaps the article promotes or is affiliated with one of their close competitors? Perhaps the topic is ethically questionable? You may not even be aware of any conflict of interest or sensitivity of the material, until it’s brought to your attention. So it is important to ask why the pitch was rejected. Use this to inform your pitching technique in the future.
A problem with timing
Sometimes a great idea may arrive to an editor at the wrong time. This may mean that the article topic may be sensitive and confrontational in the face of broader local, national or global events. Or the topic that you pitch may simply be disagreeable and not interesting enough in the eyes of an editor.
A problem of individual tastes
One editor’s preferences for writing styles will not match another’s. Often no amount of embellishment will change an editor’s mind. They simply don’t like your style. They want the writing to be a certain way, anything different from this won’t be taken up.
There is no such thing as mass appeal writing that will appeal to every editor (or every reader for that matter). Instead remember to write for a particular audience, not for mass appeal. That’s for the Daily Mail or MX to tackle.
No matter the rejection reason, don’t see this as an epic failure, but instead view it as a learning experience about how to approach editors in the future.