Getting Past Query Rejection

Today we’re going to talk about rejection.

Sensitive subject, I know. Truth is—if you want to write for magazines, you’ll get rejected a lot. Be prepared for this.

The Good News

Much of this won’t be your fault. Sometimes you’ll submit an idea that they just assigned to someone else. Other times the editor may have a backload of things to publish and won’t even be considering new pitches. You’ll probably never know the reason behind the rejection, so try not to sweat it too much. (Although…keep in mind that if you aren’t getting any responses at all, it may be time to re-tool your approach.)

The Bad News

Rejection stinks. It hurts and it makes you doubt your skill as a writer. I can’t tell you how many times I was rejected when I first started out. Many times I thought about giving up, but something inside just kept me going. Nobody likes to have their work criticized or passed on, so that part of it is just no fun at all.

How To Cope

By now you may be wondering why anyone would bother trying to write for magazines. I’m here to tell you that it’s worth the ride through all those rejections. Getting just one “yes” cancels out a hundred “no” responses.

The hardest part is not hearing anything back at all after you send a query in for consideration. Many times an editor just won’t reply if they aren’t interested. This can drive you slightly crazy, but it isn’t uncommon. It helps to know that going in.

There are a few things you can do to increase your chances of getting a reply:

  • Do your homework and make sure you send the query to the right person
  • Follow up twice before you give up
  • Avoid sending any attachments
  • Craft a good subject line that won’t land you in a SPAM filter

So how can you set your chin to deal with the rejections that will surely come if you head down this path?

Here are the ways I cope:

  • Talk to other writers. Vent. It feels great. They totally get it.
  • Count your wins—not your losses.
  • If you get a rejection, get another query out the door right away. Yep. Get back on that horse!
  • Don’t read too much into it. If you take a rejection personally, you’ll beat yourself up so bad that you will want to quit. Don’t let ‘em get at you!

If you can think of rejection as just another part of this business, you’ll be a lot better off. It’s a learning, growing experience. Treat it that way and you’ll do well!

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Catherine L. Tully has over nine years of experience writing for magazines such as American Style, AAA Living and Boys' Life. She is the editor for an award-winning blog on freelance writing and also owns and edits a blog for dance professionals.

1 thought on “Getting Past Query Rejection”

  1. I’ve been a marketing/copywriter for most of my career so querying publications is something new for me. (The publications I have been published in came my way through other means.) So recently, I decided that I would try to query regularly so I could try something new. I’ve got more rejections than I can shake a stick at!! But I think I’m doing a good job of letting them roll off my back and moving forward. And one of the things that helps the most is to talk it out with other writers.


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