Freelance Writing – Turning “No” into “Yes”

No. Every new writer is afraid of hearing it. Seasoned writers are used to it, but still wouldn’t invite it over for dinner. The good news is there is life and success after being rejected. Sometimes that success comes from the same publication that just rejected you. Why?

Every “no” is not rock solid. In fact, many have a little wiggle room if you look and listen closely.

Absolutely Not

“Not in this lifetime.” “Hell no.” “Your writing makes me weep for the educational system.” These are firm, but why dwell? Let’s move on…

Not right for us.

Ah, this is a good one. This says the piece or query:

  • In its current state doesn’t fit the the publication or site’s theme, audience or editorial direction BUT
  • It likely would fit another publication OR
  • With some changes it could be just what they need.

Turning “Not a Fit” into the Right Size

Send a follow-up communication to ask how you could change the piece to fit their needs. The follow-up should offer well-researched suggestions. This means going back to analyze the publication or site again. Look for the following:

  • Ledes – How do their published articles draw readers into the piece?
  • Perspective and tone – Did you match their tone if not, can you adjust your query to reflect their style?
  • Numbers and experts – What kinds of sources does the publication typically use? Will concrete statistics build up your pitch?
  • Editorial calendar – If you didn’t do it before, check their media kit and see what the publication has planned. Can you adjust your pitch to fit a different issue?

Not Accepting at This Time

Wiggle room! Investigate. Find out if they not accepting a particular type of piece or new work in general? A nice, quick follow-up can make the difference between your pitch never getting published there or simply published later.

Life After Death er, No

Research the publication’s competition and explore different markets. Mashable may not want your article but IT News might be interested.

  • Web – Everyone wants to see their pieces in print, but some articles may find a better home (and longer shelf life) online.
  • Trade – What industries would be interested in the information your piece provides? Trade magazines are an often overlooked source of revenue.
  • Local – Look around you. Try sending your pitch to local/regional sites and magazines. It may help to adjust your query to demonstrate it’s local angle before you hit ‘send.’
  • National – Writers are always advised to start local. Build up clips before going to national sites and publications. It is good advice, but really, there is nothing stopping you from taking that local piece and sending it to a broader market.

No is never the end. It may be a jumping off point for negotiations or an opportunity to move to another market. Look past the closed door to the open window right next to it.

Have you ever turned a ‘no’ into a ‘yes?’ Tell us!


2 responses
  1. Camiele Avatar

    I really appreciate this article. I’m not a big fan of rejection; however, this article is definitely a boost in my confidence (if not my ego). Though I’ve mastered the art of acceptance, the art of prodding isn’t particuarly my specialty…HaHa. But, I think I’ve got a bit more mental fortitude to now (compared to five years ago when I started freelancing) to ensure that the publication I want wants me just as much (if not more).

    A wise woman once said, “I’m just asking for a slow yes instead of a fast no”. I think that pretty much sums up how writers have to approach every perspective job –especially if it’s a job you reeeally want.

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