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Following up with editors – a guide

Following up with editors – a guide

There are certain things that happen time and again when you’re freelancing. You pitch, you wait to hear back, you follow up. Any freelance writer will tell you that you have to follow up with editors.

Around 30% of my stories get commissioned after a follow up email, so I think it’s crucial you touch base with editors after you’ve sent your pitch or query letter and haven't heard back.

Magazines on bed

Following up with editors – a guide

In terms of the time you wait before you follow up – there’s different opinions on that. Personally if the pitch is time sensitive I follow up within 24-48 hours, but if it’s not I tend to follow up after 10 days – 2 weeks.  

It can be tricky to know how to word your follow up emails to editors, so below is a guide of what I say. I always make sure my original pitch or query is in the body of my follow up email.

First follow up:

Hi [editor’s name],

I hope you are well.

I’m just checking in to see if my pitch below (sent on DATE) is of interest?

Thanks,

Lindy

TIP: I find that if I get more responses if I change the original subject line from:

Pitch: The surprising truth about eating organic food to

Follow up to pitch: The surprising truth about eating organic food

Second and final follow up:

Hi [editor’s name],

I hope you are well.

I’m emailing to see whether you have had a chance to consider my pitch below (sent on DATE).

I'm keen to write this story for [publication], but I know you are incredibly busy. If you're not interested, please don't feel you have to reply - if I don't hear from you by Friday, I'll look to pitch it elsewhere.

Thanks,

Lindy

Some people will send more than two follow ups and may also send an email to let the editor know that they’re taking their pitch elsewhere. Personally, if an editor has not replied after a pitch and two follows up, I’m letting it slide and pitching elsewhere.

I’m also not a fan of sending a ‘withdrawal’ email (and I’d never call it a withdrawal email – sounds kind of like you’re crabby). If a miracle happens and the editor gets back to you and says they do want it after all (but after when you’ve said you’ll pitch it elsewhere), you can easily reply with “As I didn’t hear back from you after I followed up so I thought you weren’t interested and have placed this story elsewhere.”

Not so long ago an editor replied to me 3 months after I'd sent her a pitch (and two follow ups). She asked if the story was still available. To me, that shows editors know writers will move on if they don't hear back. 

How do you follow up with editors? Do you have any tips?

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