Article Writing Rejection? Do THIS to Bounce Back…Fast

Carol Tice

Article writing rejection. It’s a tough pill to swallow for most freelancers.

Learning how to deal with it effectively may be more important than anything else.

Seriously, if you don’t handle article writing rejection well when you get a “no” from an editor, it can be devastating.

Ask yourself this question: Am I suffering from article writing rejection?

  • You day you’re optimistically cranking out query letters and letters of introduction (LOIs) to land article writing assignments.
  • And the next, you’re rolling around on the floor in a puddle of self-loathing after getting a rejection letter from an editor.
  • Between angry and pathetic sobs, you shake your fist at the sky and sputter, “Whyyyy?!”

Been there, done that?

Whether you’re just starting out or you’ve been freelancing a while, getting an article writing rejection is part of the gig. Count on it.

Here’s the thing. Some writers internalize that article writing rejection so deeply, they’re paralyzed to continue.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

If you understand the five stages of getting an article pitch in front of an editor and how to handle rejection, you can bounce back fast. Here’s how:

5 stages of the article writing pitch

  1. You get an article idea.
  2. You write the idea up, in a query letter or letter of introduction.
  3. You send the pitch letter in, usually via email.
  4. You wait, frequently in vain, for a response.
  5. You begin the second-guessing game, and start wondering why your article pitch didn’t get you an assignment.

That fifth stage often sends writers into an emotional tailspin. It’s one of two big problems. Instead of sending more pitches, you sit around thinking:

“I suck at this. I’m never going to make it!”

Instead of sending more pitches, you sit in a pool of misery, thinking bad things about yourself.

  • The other big problem is that this self-flagellation exercise wastes way too much of your precious time.

There are only two basic things you need to understand about article writing rejections — and once you know them, it can help you move on to writing that next query more quickly.

The reason you fear article writing rejection

We writers like to obsess about why our ideas were rejected, because we have a deep-seated fear that they aren’t good enough.

After all, there’s so much competition out there. Other writers are more experienced.

You can fill in your personal insecurity complex here. I’ve talked to writers who believe they’ve been rejected because they live in a different country, are too old, too young, you name it.

In other words, you think the reason you were rejected is all about you. And that could be the reason.

But often, it’s not.

The other reason

The more common reason your article pitch is rejected has nothing to do with you.

That reason can be summed up as: stuff going on at the magazine or business. Stuff like:

  • The editor or marketing director you sent it to just got fired.
  • The publication is getting ready to fold or change format.
  • They already have something similar assigned.
  • They don’t have time to look at queries right now.
  • There isn’t any room in the upcoming issue.
  • They get a million pitches on this topic and they’re bored of it.
  • Your query arrived too late to be considered for that special section (allow 6 months for national mags, folks!).
  • Longshot possibility: It got stuck in their spam and they never saw it.

You get the idea. There are a ton of factors that go into article writing assignment decisions, and most of them have nothing to do with you or your skills.

How to cope

The worst thing you can do after you send a pitch out is sit around wondering and second-guessing yourself.

That’s not a freelance writer’s job.

Ours is not to wonder why — ours is to keep learning, and keep on pitching. Theorizing about why you were rejected is a total waste of energy, since in most cases, you’ll never really know. But you can learn from your mistakes:

  • Maybe you made some rookie mistakes with your pitch — you didn’t research the publication ahead of time to make sure your tone fits, and that the topic is fresh for their audience and not recently covered.
  • Maybe you didn’t even pitch a headline for your story, so the editor was left baffled about the main drift of your idea.

Whenever you can, try to get some feedback about why you’re not getting assignments. If you think your ideas really are weak, or you need to work on your storytelling skills, then learn how to write killer articles.

Lessons from the Pitch-a-Thon inside the Freelance Writers Den

Right now, we’re in the middle of the Pitch-a-Thon in the Pitching 101 Bootcamp inside the Freelance Writers Den.

And there’s ONE goal:

Write as many LOIs or query letters as possible, get feedback, send them off, and repeat the process.

  • At first, some of the writers will get nothing but crickets.
  • Some might get a “no” or “maybe later.”
  • But every pitch you send puts you that much closer to a “yes.”
  • When you think about it like this, article writing rejection can help you find out how many pitches it takes to get a “yes.”

Let’s face it. If you’re a freelance writer, article writing rejection is going to happen.

So how do you prevent a “no” or “maybe later” or even crickets from ruining your day?

It’s insanely simple…

Bounce back and keep going

The most important thing to do is not waste time wondering. That’s not getting your writing career anywhere.

Instead, focus on learning, improving, and sending more pitches out. Bounce back and keep going. Don’t be a waiter, be a writer, OK?

How do you handle article writing rejection? Leave a comment below, and let’s discuss.

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  1. Sweety

    I have been a silent reader of this site for quite some time now. I absolutely love the suggestions and advice you give to other writers.

    Recently I pitched some my ideas to a popular site of my niche and the editor loved them. (Thanks to your sample pitch letter, love you for that). She asked me to go on with one of them. Its been 4 days I have sent the completed article but haven’t gotten a feedback yet.

    Any suggestions? Earlier the editor responded to my query the very next day. Should I follow up? Is it too early? I am totally confused. Please help.

    • Carol Tice

      Be patient. 😉 Editors are busy, busy people.

  2. Katherine Swarts

    On a related topic, it hurts to get a mailing-list Unsubscribe from an address I recognize as someone I know personally–even though I’ve done the same thing. On such occasions, I usually send a personal inquiry on the reason for the unsubscription “in the interest of helping ensure the remaining subscribers get the best possible content.”

    Also: I have several social-media contacts who regularly post identical items to multiple groups and I get ALL of them–which can be a bit annoying, especially since so many of them are self-promotional. When I have a new blog post up, I send it to direct subscribers and my general timeline only; if I want to introduce a new service, I post it to a maximum of two groups and not five or six days in a row. Thoughts?

    • Carol Tice

      Thanks for raising yet another thing writers can get obsessed with that they should ignore and move on from – who’s unsubscribing to my list today.

      I can honestly say I have never looked through the list of who unsubscribed today. Too busy helping the people who like what I send out!

      I also sometimes end up getting multiple copies of things…and I just delete them. Not a big deal! I know I’ve chosen to be involved on many lists and groups, so then I get dupes.

      I do do list segmentation with my lists, so that if you’re on my blog sub list and the Den waiting list, for instance, you hopefully don’t get two copies of things…but those segments get out of date. Maybe because I do a lot of list management here myself, I’m sympathetic when I see that I’m getting double-mailed. 😉

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