It sounds like a fun way to make a living, right? Writing for magazines? People always tell me that. What people don’t know is the grind of it. For instance did you know that freelancers query a magazine with an idea to see if the editor is interested? And then we wait. Often for a long, long time. Or sometimes we have exchanges that defy comprehension.
Back in August I sent a story idea out to Magazine X. I heard back very promptly:
Thank you, Ms. Bordessa, for your interest in X magazine. Please review our submission guidelines, attached.
I replied (because really, could she be a little more vague?):
Thanks for your near-immediate response, and for sending along the guidelines. Shall I presume this story is not of interest?
Thank you, Ms. Bordessa, for your question. We do have a small group of freelance writers already, so it is rare for Magazine X to assign a story to someone new to us. I do also take some time to respond to all pitches. If you need a response right away, I am sorry that I will not be able to do so, and in which case you might consider sharing your story idea with another publication. I wish you success in finding a market for your work.
And because I was apparently in a sassy mood that day, I couldn’t let the vagueness go:
Actually, I don’t need a response right away. However I wasn’t sure what to do with the forwarded guidelines – if that was a polite way of saying no, if you really truly want pitches via snail mail, or what. In any case, feel free to hang onto this idea for consideration, in case you’d like to expand on your regular stable of writers!
And then TODAY (note passage of time) I got this:
Thank you again, Ms. Bordessa, for taking the time to share your story idea with us. Unfortunately, we cannot use your pitch on [great and fun stuff]. Again, I wish you success in finding a market for your work.
Here’s what I like in an editor: One who knows what she wants. One who can convey what she needs clearly and who can answer my questions concisely. I’m used to rejections. It’s part of the job. But this kind of response without actually providing any information in unacceptable from an editor, no matter how polite she is.