One aspect of being a writer is dealing with silence from editors. Silence can mean rejection, but often it does not.
Silent Editor Equals Writer Rejection? Let’s See…
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, but who has so far received only silence. While this deals with my specific area of specialization, the advice I give at the bottom of the post applies to all freelance writers.
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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 –only silence. The sales reps have not given me 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 contact information. Any tips for getting past the silent treatment?
My Reply: Explaining the “Silence of the Editors”
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 from writers. 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 silence: 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, they do get communicative when they have projects, so it could be that out of the blue the silence ends and 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 editors. 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 there.
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 others within the company.
Hang in there and remember: Silence from the editor does not mean rejection of the writer.
Silent Editors: Marketing Advice for Writers
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.
Your Take on Silent Editors
Any stories to share? What’s been your experience with getting editors to contact you about writing projects?