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Don't Pester The Editor

Don't Pester The Editor
By Alyice Edrich

As an editor, I can tell you that one of my BIGGEST pet peeves is when a writer "pesters" me every other day or once a week about his (or her) submission. I don't mind if it's a viable question, but what I hate is when the writer's impatience takes hold and I feel "squeezed" as if the writer's pestering is going to make me accept his (or her) submission faster.

I think new writers, or writers with too much time on their hands, think that a little pestering will keep him (or her) on the forefront of the editor's mind so that when the editor sees his (or her) submission, the editor will be inclined to look at it, recognize the name, and then buy the piece. And in a way, it makes sense. But what usually happens is quite the opposite. The editor becomes annoyed with the nagging writer and decides to simply decline the article-sometimes before it has even been read.

Questions we hate and why:

• "Can you tell me if you received my submission?"
Okay I don't mind you asking if it's a day or a week or a month past the time mentioned in the writers' guidelines and you haven't heard anything, because email is unpredictable and your submission might have gotten lost in cyberspace. But seriously, do you have to ask only moments after submitting the piece?

• "Did you like it?"
This is often a question received only days after submitting the piece for publication. Please wait until I send you a rejection or acceptance letter. I have an entire publication to run and often don't have the time to dig through a pile of submissions to tell you yes or no. Sorry.

• "How long before you publish it?"
This is one I get before I've even accepted the submission. Just because you submitted the piece doesn't mean I'm buying it-unless I specifically asked you to write it. Read the submission guidelines. Most publications will give a timeline for acceptance/rejections as well as for publication.

• "When will you give me an answer?"
Again, read the guidelines.

• "I know your guidelines say you'll let us know within xx weeks of submission, but can't you tell me now? If you don't like it I have another market that may be interested?" And this one on the same day I received the submission! If you have another market that may be interested, send your submission to them first.

At least once a month I'll receive an email from a writer requesting that I give an immediate answer to his (or her) query (which was just submitted a week or two prior) because another publication is interested in the piece. In the past, I would have been excited for the writer, but now it comes as no surprise to discover that there really isn't another publication fighting for the piece, but an impatient writer hoping to pull a fast track to publication. And I know this because when I congratulate the writer on the sale of the article and inform him that I'll pull his article from the submission que, I'll often receive an email stating that the writer can wait to hear back from me; after all the piece was written specifically with my publication in mind.

• "What do you pay?"
Umm, read the writers' guidelines!

And let us not forget things like:

• "I know this is not your normal style, but I really thought your readers would enjoy this."
Seriously, we have writers' guidelines for a reason. Please use them.

• "This is an original article."
Then we do a quick search online and discover the article has appeared on your personal website, in your church bulletin, or worse-a free content service. Sorry, not an original.

When I've called writers on this in the past, I've received remarks like, "Well, I didn't hear back from you so I used it." To which I've replied, "Our writers' guidelines clearly state that we need 8 to 12 weeks before giving you an answer, it's only been six weeks." And the kicker is when I check the WayBackMachine to discover that the article was on your personal website for a year prior to submitting it as an "original" to my publication. All that does is prevent me from wanting to read your submissions in the future.

• "What do you mean you don't like my submission? I told you how I was going to write the piece via my query letter."
This from someone who gave me a laundry list of ingredients, which I assumed would follow an essay and be rewritten into a step-by-step recipe, as our recipe center mandates. Instead, I received an "article" that basically reiterated what the recipe was going to tell my readers. Sorry, doesn't work for me.

How do you get your submission accepted? You read previously published articles in sections of the magazine you want to write for. When offering an original article, you make sure it hasn't been published anywhere on the Internet or in print. And you write a great piece! You put your heart and soul into it, you don't pester the editor or his (or her) assistant, you don't battle the editor when edits are requested, and you make sure your piece fits the needs of the publication.

Alyice Edrich ( is the award winning editor of The Dabbling Mum®. Stop by for your chance to win free videos and books or to download three free e-books (

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