Monday, August 04, 2008

Never say never... unless, you know, never.

A freelance travel writer submitted a lengthy query letter through my company's Web site, wanting to contribute to one or more of the magazines we publish. Before I had the chance to reply, he sent in another letter that began with, "Now that you've gotten to know me, here's what I can do for you," followed by about four pages worth of story ideas.

I responded politely, thanking him for his interest but explaining that all of our writers work in-house. He wrote back, asking where our offices are located. My assistant, J., let him know that all of our offices are in Houston. And that, we thought, was that.

This morning, Writer Guy sent in another letter, opening with, "I'm currently working on an amazing new article that would very much appeal to our readers!"

"Our" readers? WTF?

After a brief but pointed confab, J. and I determined further correspondence to be unnecessary.

I've done the freelance writing thing before, and it's hard. You work your ass off coming up with the perfect lead and the perfect pitch, only to receive a Xeroxed rejection slip. Or you never hear back at all. Or another writer steals one of your topics and uses it as the title of his latest published collection of (in my unbiased opinion) abrasive yet unremarkable spokenword poems, and doesn't even mention you in the acknowledgements.

The turndowns and trecheries are demoralizing, but you just have to suck it up, haul out your copy of The Writers Market and move on. Ignoring a "thanks but no thanks" reply from a media outlet and pestering them like a cat in heat until they have no choice but to SPAM block your e-mail address is, in shameless self-promotion terms, a tragic-ass boo-boo.


Anne Johnson said...

As a freelance writer, I know when to say when. And I am flabbergasted to hear that your magazines use in-house writers. That's getting more and more rare, unless you publish some kinds of techno-trade journals.

Evn said...

We publish the kind of magazines that turn up in dentists' waiting rooms.

Anne Johnson said...

National Geographic and Smithsonian? That's what my dentist has. Oh yeah, and Southern Living. Now I get it, Evn. You work for Southern Living! Will you come decorate my back patio and give me some terrific summer recipes?

Evn said...

Unfortunately, I do not work for Southern Living, but I'll be happy to come decorate your back patio. How does a Mayan/Warhol fusion strike you?

Anne Johnson said...

Anything but a Tiki.

Evn said...

No Tikis. Check.

But blood-stained stone altars...?