Monday, November 3, 2008

No, but Yes, but No, but Yes, but ...

Lubna Shahab forwarded an email that she'd been sent from an editor and I have pasted it below for you all to read:

Good morning!

How are you?! Thanks for your email and sorry about the late response. We've
read through the piece and while it's a great piece, we have already done
articles on the topics you have covered in it. So we can't repeat, I hope
you understand. Would be happy to hear some pitches though. Let me know your

Now I'm sure you'll agree that Lubna was disappointed that her article had been rejected. This is a classic example of where the magazine feels that it has already covered this topic recently and to ensure that they don't bore their readers, don't want to revisit the subject for some time. But notice how the editor has told her that this was a 'great piece'. So her writing was good, and clearly her article was targeted at the right publication because the magazine has already covered the topic. Clearly, Lubna has done everything right here. Unfortunately it hasn't worked out, purely because Lubna wasn't aware that the magazine had recently covered this topic. That doesn't mean that Lubna didn't do her market analysis - on the contrary, if she'd examined the last 3 issues the chances are this subject hadn't been covered then. The topics may have been written about 6, 7, or even 8 months ago. But it's still too soon for the editor and the readers.

But look at the final sentence of that rejection email : Would be happy to hear some pitches though, let me know your thoughts. WOW!

Now let's get one point clear. Editors don't ask writers to send in article ideas if they are naff writers! They get inundated with ideas from naff writers everyday, they don't need more. But they DO invite the writers who show promise, and clearly Lubna's article demonstrated that she could write to a high standard, and it also showed that she knew what the magazine's readership wanted. That's what the editor is thinking. Here's a writer who can write, and can write well for our readership.

So I've told Lubna to send in a list of three or four ideas. She needs to think carefully about them, and approach the ideas in the same way that she did for her article. But if she can supply three or four, the editor may like one of them and ask her to write it up.

Now this is NOT a commission. If the editor likes an idea it does not mean that it will definitely be used. However, it puts Lubna in a much stronger position because she knows that the editor already likes her idea. It also means that when she submits the finished article she can begin her email:

Please find, as requested, my article entitled ...

Again, this gives her a stronger position because when the editor looks at the email he/she will know that it is an idea that is suitable. He/she has already asked to see it.

So what started out as a 'reject' email, actually ends up very positive. If ever you find yourself in this position then do send the ideas in.

Never worry about your ideas being stolen. This just doesn't happen. People often have the same ideas at the same time (funnily enough, lots of writers are having ideas about credit crunch / financial doom and gloom articles at the moment).

Ever wondered why in assignment 2 when you're asked to analyse the publication right at the end of the analysis you are asked to come up with several ideas that you can offer them? Now you know!

The rejection began as a "No", but it definitely turned into a "could be!"

Good luck.