Q: I’m getting a lot of rejections on queries to magazine editors. How do I know if my writing is bad or if I just need to rework my queries?
A: Without reading your queries, it’s hard to say. However, there are three approaches you can take to start doing some self-evaluation:
1. Study your rejections. How fast are they coming back? Is anyone holding your query (or article) for possible use, or are you getting immediate rejections? Do the editors indicate why they’re rejecting your ideas? (For example, are they too common? Already being used? Not a good fit for the magazine?)
2. Get free, unbiased feedback. Ask an acquaintance (not a friend or family member!) to review your query. Can they quickly summarize your idea and relay it back to you? Do they think it sounds interesting? Would they want to read the article based on just the query? Do they see spelling or grammatical errors? Based on what they know about the magazine to which you’re pitching, does the idea seem like a good fit?
3. Hire a professional editor. Even if you shell out $25 or $50 for a one-time review, it might be worth it to get honest feedback from someone who knows the industry. If they tell you that you need a writing class, heed their advice. It might hurt to hear that you’re not ready for publication, but it will save you time, money and hardship in the long run, and it will no doubt make you a better writer sooner rather than later.
Articles, books, greeting cards, oh my! Wendy Burt is a successful full-time freelance writer and editor who has more than doubled her income since leaving her job as a newspaper editor just three years ago. With two women’s humor books for McGraw-Hill and more than 1,000 published pieces, Wendy’s typical day might including writing ad copy, greeting cards, health articles, personal profiles or her marketing column for Her Business magazine. Her work has appeared in such varied publications as Family Circle, The Writer, MSNBC.com, NewYorkTimes.com, Home Cooking Magazine and American Fitness. Wendy teaches “Breaking Into Freelance Writing” and still finds ample time to spend with her beautiful baby, Gracie. Visit www.BurtCreations.com to see books by Wendy and her award-winning dad. More info at www.WendyBurt-Thomas.com.