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As some of you might be aware, I'm starting a travel magazine. For years, I've been a freelancer and I was a stickler for following the rules. Learning how to pitch a magazine was the one thing I read and studied more than anything else.
Since starting this magazine, it's remarkable to me just how many people don't care about all that. I've gotten e-mails from people who wrote them poorly, sent me articles in spite of the guidelines saying, "No articles accepted on spec, pitches only to the following e-mail......." and sent them to the wrong e-mail address.
Today, someone sent me an e-mail outside the guidelines and I responded with:
Please visit the magazine’s website and peruse the editorial guidelines. This is the incorrect e-mail address to send anything like this and the magazine doesn’t not accept articles on spec, just pitches, as is stated in the editorial guidelines.
The response I got from this writer kind of blew me away:
Thank you, but finding Editorial Guidelines under the Advertising link told me all I needed to know about your site! It's not for me - too amateurish.
This is someone who A. Has never been published outside of two books that they self-published and B. didn't bother to read the editorial guidelines BEFORE contacting me.
How am I supposed to feel about their obvious poor manners? I've been told by numerous people my site is wonderful and it's already gotten the attention of some folks in the international press and media.
Maybe I just needed to vent because I know the right answer to all of this is to consider the source and move on. I am curious to know what some of you think. (I'm intentionally not putting the link to the magazine's site here because I don't want this to seem as though I'm plugging the magazine)
Take all this as a good lesson. You learned early on not to waste your time on people like that. And if they're that rude to you, how do they treat others? If they can't follow instructions on how to approach you or pitch, doesn't it make you question their information and attention to detail?
Shit like this boggles the mind, but better to learn this early on before you've invested your time and reputation with them.
"And if they're that rude to you, how do they treat others? " Exactly right, Allan. Nancy could be offering them assignments, so how would they address all the humans on this planet who can't offer them assignments? Boggles the mind, indeed.
FYI, that's from someone who's bored to death reading writers' guidelines and all that. But ya gotta do it.
Nancy, don't even think of spending another minute fretting about this! Unfortunately being an editor means you will have to hand out many rejections, and some people won't take it well. This particular writer is someone you should be grateful isn't in your stable - sounds like s/he spells trouble further down the line. As a former commissioning editor you can't believe the kinds of pitches I used to receive... at some point you just laugh: "Hi, I have a lot of story ideas about many places, please write to me." Then when you don't reply (we have better things to do - like dealing with REAL writers who are pros) you get a nasty email almost stalking you or insulting you for not having instantly recognized the superb structure of their single-sentence pitch... sigh...
Basically you already have your answer - absolutely ignore this kind of stuff and grow a thick skin because I'm afraid this is only the first of many if you're in a position to reject things other people may think are superb...
I have a Questions page on my website and in bright red I tell people NOT to ask me for specific recommendations, jobs etc... And guess which question I get the most often? "Can you help me find a job in...?" I used to respond personally to everything. Then I started using Gmail 'canned responses'. And now the Delete button is my best friend. I have better things to do.
Hope the venting helped!
Nancy, for as much time as I've spent mourning the demise of the last two print magazines where I was an editor, I don't for a single second miss being on the receiving end of pitches. There were, of course, well-prepared and researched pitches from professional writers, but the amount of flotsam and jetsam that found its way to me was astonishing. I remember one "writer" in particular who refused to take no for an answer, and began sending me photographs at our editorial offices (yes, mailed photographs) of herself and her kids, with notes that suggested I take the financial wellbeing of her children into account before refusing to give her work. Her experience, by the way, was limited to having drafted letters for her boss at an insurance company. After about a year, she gave up on me (I had long since stopped responding with even a polite no-thank you in the hopes of discouraging her). People also forget that rude, annoying, and unprofessional behavior is something that becomes shared information within the publishing industry. My advice to you: deep breaths!
Nancy, I think it's a combination of skimming rather than reading, multi-tasking, entitlement and just plain ignorance. Many of us accidentally fall victim to the first two, but there's a huge, social media horde out there afflicted with the latter two.
I remember seeing your posting and when I came to "peruse the editorial guidelines," immediately thought, she knows what she's doing. As a freelancer you, too, know how many print publications never get around to those or if they do, don't make them readily available.
As for the advertising bit, not where I'd put it but I've frequently gone to the advertising link on a website to find names/email addresses of editors or an editorial calendar.
Don't let the self-published think-they-are's get you down.
I would submit that you re-work your response to emails sent to the wrong email address. Come up with something friendly and directive...and then just cut-copy-paste the response when ever you need it. Then the recipient will be less likely to "hear" the irritation in your own email response.
The combination of relative anonymity and instant gratification gives bad actors a unique platform on the internet. On the other hand, you get worldwide exposure to your ideas and writing for almost nothing. I accept and try to embrace that tradeoff. With Borders gone and B&N demanding low prices and unlimited returns from my publishers, I don't know how I could sell my books without an ongoing presence on Facebook and many other accommodating Web sites such as yours that provide me with reviews and a place to share my articles.
What strikes me as most bizarre about your experience is that there isn't even a potential cash payment as you get your online magazine going!
Editorial Guidelines are often placed under the Advertising Link. Nothing "amateur" about that at all.
I know, right? It's not as though I'm preventing them from reaching literary heights unheard of in the real world! For now, it's a magazine hoping to make a dent and get some advertisers so I CAN pay writers.
Also, Steve, what books do you have? If they pertain to travel (or might make a good beach or airplane read) I might be interested in reviewing them on the site or in the magazine.
Like Ed, I dislike doing pitch letters, as I pride myself on coming through. However, if the guidelines require pitch letters, that is exactly what I do, like it or not.
Unfortunately, rudness has been around a long time and will remain. What's good about it? It lets you know who you don't wish to grant an assignment.
I think you hit the nail on the head when you mentioned "poor manners"!
At least you found out early without wasting one minute of your precious time on this moron...:)
All of you said exactly what I was thinking in my head but I suppose I needed the affirmation. I thought putting the editorial guidelines under the "Advertise with us" was more than appropriate and for this "pitcher" to use THIS as their basis for slamming me?
I think, in the future, the e-mails that are obviously not following the rules are going to be deleted, period.
As I said initially, when I started out, learning how to pitch was the part I spent more time on than anything (if you don't count the four years of college where I learned to write) and it kind of sticks in my craw that people try to circumvent the process.
Judy Wells - you're so kind to say what you said. I try to be as professional as possible and it gets hard, sometimes, not to just slam these people with what they deserve. Thanks for the support.
Maralyn Hill - I hate writing pitches more than anything else. It's tedious and makes me want to just go to bed but it's a necessary evil. My intention with this was, once someone is established as a writer, they didn't need to do the pitches any longer but e-mail me directly when they have a story idea. That's how I do it now with AAA. The first article I ever did for them was pitched by the rules. After that, I e-mailed them directly to the two editors I work with there at the appropriate time.
Thanks again, all of you, for the back up. I guess some people are just jerks to the nth degree and, Allan Lynch, you're exactly right and this is something I've been known to say - if they'll treat total strangers like that, imagine how they treat those they know? Jerks... Can't live with 'em, can't kill 'em.