One unfortunate aspect of freelance writer/editor relationships is dealing with rejection, and also dealing with silence, which sometimes means rejection but often does not.
Here’s an e-mail I received recently from a purchaser of my ebook Writing College Textbook Supplements who was diligently applying my advice on how to connect with editors at textbook publishing companies. While this deals with my specific area of specialization, the advice I give at the bottom of the post applies to all freelance writers.
I have been contacted many sales reps and all are forwarding my information on to their editors. However, I have yet to hear from any editors. The sales reps have not given me the editor’s contact information. Should I be calling these sales reps after a few weeks? That would seem pointless to me since I really need to talk to the editors. I want to be proactive about this but I think I need to get the editor’s information. Any tips?
And here’s my reply:
I know it’s frustrating. Most editors are very busy with many tasks, including many not related to supplements, and they often don’t follow up on communications. They likely just took your info from the book reps and put it into files for the future.
And speaking of timing, this is typically a slow time of year for getting supplements work [March]. I’ve found it’s most prevalent from April or May through the end of the year, although I do have two projects that are finishing right now.
Back to the lack of communication from editors: I send out e-mails inquiring about work 2-3 times a year to editors I’ve worked with before, some on a dozen or more projects. Less than half write me back.
However, editors do get communicative when they have projects, so it could be that out of the blue you get an e-mail asking if you are interested in working on a supplement. That’s how it’s been for me.
You can contact the book reps again and indicate that you haven’t heard from their editorial contacts. Ask for specific names, e-mails, and phone numbers. You may have some success with that approach. Also check the websites of specific companies; sometimes you’ll find contact info for editors.
It can take some time to get launched in this field, but once you do the work comes more steadily. And once you work for one editor, she’ll likely give you contact info for other editors within the company.
Hang in there.
1. Stay active with your marketing efforts and don’t get discouraged.
2. Editors usually wear many different hats, and just because they don’t respond to your queries, it doesn’t mean they are rejecting you; it likely means they are very busy with other work right now and will only be in touch when they actually need a writer.
3. It takes time to launch a successful career as a freelance writer, whether you specialize in writing college textbook supplements/ancillaries or in one of the many other hundreds of other potential specialties, so take that into account and make sure you have other sources of income.
4. Understand that some freelance writing niches have seasonality. For example, if you are a travel writer and you want to write about winter scuba diving in the Caribbean, you need to time your pitch several months ahead, like July. In my field, many textbook supplements are completed during summer and fall, so I need to be on editor’s radar then.
Any stories to share? What’s been your experience with getting editors to contact you about writing projects?