Sunday, 9 November 2008

#59 – Following up on an initial pitch

Or what is pestering?

Time to move on?
So you’ve sent your pitch and you’ve heard nothing back. Is it time to move on? Well, I’m sure if you ask most editors, they will say: “If you haven’t heard anything, we’re not interested.” Usually, of course, this is true.

Standard fob-off
But sometimes it isn’t. It can be used as a standard fob off. Sometimes, if the editor is being honest, they will have to admit that they haven’t read your e-mail. And this is why it is always worth following up.

Second e-mail
Sending a second e-mail that politely enquires whether the initial pitch was received and whether it would be of interest can sometimes pay dividends. The editor may not have seen the original e-mail, or forgotten to reply to it, or glossed over it without reading it. A second e-mail is more likely to illicit a response, irrespective of what happened to the first one. In fact, I have one editor who almost inevitably only responds to the follow-up e-mail.

Fine line
But there is a fine line between following up and pestering, and it is difficult to know where that line lies. There’s no real correct answer when it comes to the best time to follow up – different writers will give you different responses.

Relationship and frequency of publication
I’d argue that the length of time before a follow-up e-mail depends on your relationship with the editor and the frequency of a publication. Monthly magazines obviously have longer decision making processes, so I would probably leave it at least a month before following up with an editor at such a magazine. And that’s if I have worked with them in the past. It’s probably six to eight weeks for a blind pitch sent to someone I’ve had no previous dealings with.

Weekly travel section

For a weekly travel section or website, I’d argue that it can be followed up more quickly. Probably two to three weeks for an editor I do know and maybe four for one I don’t.

Arbitrary timeframes
These timeframes are fairly arbitrary, of course, and are largely based on what I feel constitutes pestering. Other writers will have different opinions, and if they’d like to share them by adding a comment, that would be wonderful.

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