Monday, 28 June 2010

The Long Game

I mentioned last year about an approach I'd made to an American publication, British Heritage magazine, and the editor had kindly sent me two issues for me to analyse before I pitched some ideas to him.

A few weeks after receiving the copies and studying the magazines, I made my pitch. I suggested three ideas, which I hoped would be of interest. Unfortunately, the editor replied stating that he'd already covered two of them within the previous year, and the third idea didn't fire him up enough for him to want to proceed with it. He then went on to say that the competition from writers to get an article in his magazine was fierce, and therefore I shouldn't be disappointed with his response.

Now, although I was disappointed, (we all like it when editors turn around and say 'yes') I accepted that these things happen. Far better for me to pitch these ideas and discover that the magazine had already covered them, than spend the time writing the articles and sending them off, only to discover a few weeks later that I'd been wasting my time. As for the third idea, well, not every idea works despite the effort you put into slanting it to fit a particular magazine's readership.

Now, I've been meaning to pitch some more ideas to the editor again, but every time I came up with a selection, I would visit the magazine's website and see what topics they were covering in the 'current' issue - only to discover features on the subjects I was going to pitch! That was immensely frustrating! (But at least it proves I was thinking along the right lines!)

Last week, I thought I'd have another go and came up with three new ideas. A quick check on the magazine's website suggested that the current and previous issue weren't tackling these areas, so I sent them off.

The editor replied the same day. He didn't like two of the ideas, but the third intrigued him. Could I tell him a bit more? (Er ... yeah!) Twenty four hours later, I had my commission. He liked what I'd proposed and a contract is in the post. And he took the opportunity to tell me that my pitch is only the third he's accepted from a UK-based writer this year. Which just goes to show that sometimes, when you first approach a magazine, it's the start of a very long game. Don't let the first knock backs put you off. Keep trying. It will be worth it in the end.

Good luck!


  1. Congratulations, Simon! It pays to be persistent doesn't it. Oh, and great article re retreats in Writing Magazine this month!

    Julie xx

  2. Good advice, as always, Simon.

    I have become tired of sending off articles on spec and recently have changed tack and restricted my efforts to editors interested in ideas that I propose. So far, I have sent in one article to an editor who expressed interest in one idea that I proposed, but have not yet heard from him. I am just now putting the finishing touches to another that I proposed for a magazine's Spring 2011 issue. She says she would be keen to see my article, which is now nearing completion. Two others have expressed interest in another idea that I and would like to look at the pieces when finished.

    Efforts still not crowned with gold and treasure,however but, like you, persistence might get the shekels flowing to my purse. Eventually. TFT (AKA George)

  3. Well done Simon, it's so easy to give up after you get a rejection, your determination paid off. A really inspiring post!

  4. Super post, Simon, which shows just how persistent you need to be if you want to make a living as a writer.

  5. Good advice, Simon, and a tribute to the power of persistence. Some editors are more forgiving than others about pitches for ideas they've already covered. I received a very huffy rejection recently from an editor who had covered my idea 8 months ago. If you're not a regular subscriber (and who can be to a range of mags without breaking the bank?) it's not always easy to find out the contents of back issues. However, this has given me confidence to try again. Thank you.

  6. Hi Vanessa

    That's a shame about your idea, but yes, that's a bit huffy of the editor if the idea was featured eight months ago - as you say - you can't subscribe to EVERY magazine, can you?

    But persistence is the only way to proceed. Get back on that horse and start pitching again!