Advice for Writers: Not So Fast and How to Deal With Rejection

The fact that I even included “Advice for Writers” in a title of my blog post speaks volumes. I’ve always been a writer, but I didn’t aggressively pursue freelance writing, really, until I was a few years into my first professional full-time job. Not including being published in my university’s newspaper, The Digest, a few pesky things like becoming infatuated with public relations and attending graduate school for PR, instead of journalism got in the way. I’ll tell that story someday, but moving on.

Honestly, I’ve only been at this thing seriously since my first story was published in the inaugural 2007 issue of Clutch. I guess you could say it’s been on ever since….kind of. Over the years, I’ve gotten a few emails from readers who want to know how to break into freelancing. My usual response is simply pitching editors and yes, sometimes writing for free to build your clips. Regarding pitching stories, all you can do is ask, and all they say is ‘no.’ The catch is being prepared and putting your best foot forward.

Some people say walking takes too long, but I say with walking you can’t go wrong. Why should you rush your way trough life? You won’t get there if you’re running all the time.

– Walking (Mary Mary)

How did I begin writing for Clutch? Editor-in-chief, Dede Sutton wrote a blog called “Clutch & Lipglass.” I followed her for a while and read about her starting Clutch.  After reading about the mission and manifesto of the magazine, I emailed her and sent writing samples. Voila’! She and Clutch were gifts sent from God, but there were many other times I was given the “no-sir” by editors. It’s the way of the world for freelancers, so why not write about that experience and how to recoup from it? Here’s a snippet of my latest work published on Mediabistro.com:

What to Do When Your Pitch is Rejected

5 Tips to Help Recover Your Query From the Slush Pile

At any given minute, a writer somewhere is being told ‘no’ by magazine editors, book agents, consulting clients, and these days, even potential connections on LinkedIn.Aspiring freelance journalist Ishea Brown Arnold says she might have received the quickest rejection email in history after pitching a story idea to a popular online women’s magazine.

“I was both excited and slightly nervous to pitch my first story idea,” says Arnold. “Imagine my surprise when [the editor] responded to my email within five minutes. I attempted to throw a few more story ideas her way and was once again shut down in record time.”

Even the most established scribes know that for every 10 ideas they generate, a paltry one or two might actually result in a byline. But if you are committed to your craft and story, stick to it. Rejection may be inescapable, but it’s the recovery that makes all the difference.

What One Publication Won’t Accept, Another Will Pitching is as unpredictable as a roll of dice, says Demetria L. Lucas, relationships editor at Essence. “Sometimes you can pitch something to say, six or seven different magazines, and the first six will say, ‘Eh, it’s not really for us,’ but the seventh will say, ‘I think this is great.’ Sometimes somebody will pitch something and it’ll be a great story, but not for us.”

Short story writer and author Dolen Perkins-Valdez avoided rejection of her novel Wench because she didn’t submit the manuscript prematurely. She also says writers often are too preoccupied with the logistics of book publishing, instead of perfecting the material first.”

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You’ll have to read the rest here, but it requires an AvantGuild membership on Mediabistro.com. It’s a great source of insider information for writers–new writers especially. It’s worth it.

I am in no way an expert on the do’s and don’ts of journalism. I’ll leave that to Aliyah S. King. I can tell you what I know from experience though, and the most important thing is to try, and remember it’s a walk, not a race. I think I’ll make this my first post in a writing series (I’ll think of a title later).

Here’s Mary Mary’s latest single, “Walking.” It describes what I’m talking about. While you’re at it, check out my (old) interview with them on Clutch.

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2 thoughts on “Advice for Writers: Not So Fast and How to Deal With Rejection

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Advice for Writers: Not So Fast and How to Deal With Rejection « Because I Said So -- Topsy.com

  2. I really like what Dolen says. Writers too often can get caught up in the whole I-wonder-how-big-my-advance-check-will-be and ignoring the important part–their story. I’ve been guilty of this at times but I’m really learning that patience really is a virtue. There are no shortcuts with writing, it’s one letter at a time.

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