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3 Free Ways to Find Out What Editors Really Think

Carol Tice

Editor thinkingIt’s one of the biggest problems in freelance writing.

You send out a query to an editor, or a letter of introduction to a business.

And then…nothing.

You never hear back. You’re left to wonder what you’re doing wrong.

Or you submit an article, and it gets killed. They give you some vague reason, such as, “Just not a fit for us at this time.”

How can you ever improve?

You’re stuck. But you need to break through and get answers, or you’re not going to get the kind of great-paying gigs you want.

Fortunately, there are several paths out of this dilemma. One is to hire an expensive writing coach and pay thousands for their input.

But there are free ways, too. Here are three:


1. Ask

Be bold, and email that editor again and ask for feedback on why they didn’t like your idea. You might not get an answer, but then again, you might get a quick, useful tip or two to improve your queries.

You can also ask any writer friends you might have, or editors with whom you do have relationships, to go over the queries you’re sending out to other editors. How could they be strengthened?

2. Compare

If you’re being edited and published anywhere, you have a powerful improvement tool right at your fingertips.

Simply take the article draft you turned in, and compare it, word by word, with the published version. What did they change?

Note how what they did made the piece stronger or more concise. This is like a free writing course!

For more value, if you have questions about things they changed, ask the editor why the change was made. This is how I learned much of what I know about article writing, line-by-line comparisons and asking questions.

Seeing how the editor tweaked the story may also help you develop stronger angles for your future pitches. It’ll give you a sense of what sorts of details, research facts, and quotes this editor likes.

3. Be a case study

Experts are always looking for students who shine, to use as case studies to help promote their coaching. Sometimes, they’ll cut you a free tuition deal if you’re willing to sit for a case study interview and share the story of how their insights helped your career.

I’ve had the pleasure of being a case study for a couple of my mentors, and it was super-fun! It’s great exposure for you, too, as they usually mention your company name. I’ve also gotten free access to courses, online tools, and mentoring groups for taking the time to do that.