Ask The Freelance Dude #18 – Unresponsive Editors


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Dear Freelance Dude,

I’m trying my hardest to break into the world of freelance games journalism. I’ve had a couple of paid assignments which I managed to land without needing to submit any pitches. Since then, I’ve followed your advice about what makes a good pitch, and have tried several ideas tailoring them to several publications. After waiting a reasonable time, I have not had any responses whatsoever. What can I do if I’m simply being ignored?

Signed,
David O.

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Dear David,

Welcome to the fight! And that’s indeed what it can feel like early-on when you’re scrabbling to line-up your first few steady gigs. Hell, even if you have a stellar freelance resume, getting a response from new outlets you’re pitching can still be a frustrating struggle. Carving out that initial foothold isn’t easy, but it seems like you’re not off to a bad start, since you already have a few strong clips to work with.

Aside from having writing chops and a solid idea to pitch, patience and persistence are the best weapons in your arsenal. If you haven’t done it already, start by following-up with the editors you’ve pitched. Be polite and friendly, but do send them another e-mail to see if they received your original pitch and inquire about whether they might be interested in the piece. A couple of weeks is a safe amount of time between your initial pitch and your first check-in. You may find that your initial e-mail slipped through the cracks or was caught up by an aggressive spam filter. The editor may have seen it and not had a moment to respond yet, which is pretty common, or they may not have seen it at all. It’s always worth following up — several times if you have to.

If you still don’t get any response, it’s time to switch tactics. Many editors are so busy that they only have time to respond to pitches they are interested in. Double your efforts and give them something even better to consider. Try pitching a few more ideas before you give up hope. Make sure each one is substantially different, and you may find that one of them hits the sweet spot that triggers that response you’ve been waiting for.

Even after jumping through all these hoops, you may still find that it’s a one-way exchange. Hang in there. If it’s a bigger publication with multiple that editors handle different content areas, try pitching someone else at the outlet. Or you can shop your pitch around elsewhere. Retool it for another publication, and see if they bite instead. But if you’re still spinning your tires after that, you might want to consider putting your pitch on the shelf and starting fresh.

The waiting game is the one of the hardest parts of pitching freelance pieces. It’s always a gamble that may or may not pan out. Sometimes it’s you; sometimes it’s them. Either way, keep at it and try not to be discouraged if it takes longer than you expect to lock down your first steady gigs. Once you clear those big initial hurdles, it gets easier.

Best,
The Freelance Dude

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Follow @nmeunier on Twitter for more writing advice, game industry commentary, and freelance shenanigans.

Have a writing, freelancing, or game journalism related question you’d like answered? No problem! Hop on over here for details on how to submit it to The Freelance Dude!

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