Welcome back for another installment of Ask TON. Here’s our latest question:
I just received a nice rejection letter from an editor who encouraged me to try again. I’d really like to write for this publication. How soon is too soon to pitch another story?
Brendan Maher, features editor at Nature:
To quote Morrissey (or at least one of his song titles): “How soon is now?”
Laura Helmuth, science and health editor at Slate:
Feel free to pitch again as soon as you have another idea that seems like a good fit for that publication. The only time that can be too soon is if you pitch the new story within an immediate response to the editor’s message declining the original story. That makes it seem like you have a list of story ideas that aren’t particularly matched to specific publications and are pitching them randomly. But if you have another story idea even the next day, feel free to send it right away. Start a fresh email thread with a new subject header for every new pitch (see “Pitching Errors: How Not to Pitch”—this is a minor but persistent annoyance for editors who have a lot of pitches to keep track of). There’s no need to mention your original pitch beyond an optional “thanks for encouraging me to try you again; I really would like to write for you” line in the new pitch. Good luck.
Valerie Jamieson, features editor at New Scientist:
I’d say, how fast can light travel?
David Corcoran, editor of Science Times, The New York Times:
If the editor was sincere in his or her niceness, I don’t think it matters how long you wait before pitching again. If Pitch No. 2 is unwelcome for whatever reason (timing, appropriateness, length), I would hope he/she would let you know.
Siri Carpenter, features editor at Discover (and co-founder of TON):
I don’t think there’s any need to wait any set amount of time before pitching again—if you have a good idea, I’m interested to hear it. I do think, however, that it’s important to show that you’re giving good consideration to the needs of the publication you’re pitching, and not just sending a barrage of pitches that aren’t well-tailored to that publication. Occasionally I have turned down a pitch from a writer, only to be immediately sent another that is not a good fit, and then another and another … all under the same subject line. At some point, I start to get the impression that the writer has a large collection of pitches that have failed elsewhere and is trying them out on me, and (even though every professional writer has plenty of pitches that haven’t yet sold), in general I think it’s best to avoid leaving the impression you’re trying to sell off your seconds.