Thursday, October 22, 2020

Published Writers Must Be Pitching

By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin

The magazine business changes constantly—as other elements within publishing. Editors change. The focus of a publication changes. The types of articles that they take changes. Themes for a magazine develop over a period of time and even what an editor takes and rejects changes.  If the editors don’t know what they want to achieve or do with the magazine (occasionally true), imagine how it confuses the people who are trying to write for them. At times it feels like a pure shot in the dark—but you have to continue taking the shot if you want to be published.
There are several realities to mention here. Nothing gets published if it’s only in your head or in your computer or in a file folder. It’s only when you send it into the marketplace that you have an opportunity for something to transpire.
Many years ago I was writing query letters about a little article on Listening Through the Bible. I targeted the idea for January issues of the magazine (perfect because people make resolutions and are looking for a new idea, etc.).  I learned if you listen to the Bible 20 minutes a day, you can make it through the entire Bible from Genesis to Revelation in four months. It’s an amazing—and true fact. The tape recording of the Bible simply keeps on going where you would get stalled—like in 2 Chronicles in the genealogy section.
My query letter on Listening Through the Bible was soundly rejected—all over the place. I crafted the query letter, targeted it to appropriate publications and received rejection after rejection. I didn’t think I was going to be able to write this particular article on assignment (which comes from writing the one-page query letter).
One day I received a phone call from a magazine editor. She was brand new at that magazine and had taken the helm of this publication (editor-in-chief type of role). Her initial words were apologetic about going through old query letters. (In fact, the publication had already rejected my idea and returned my SASE with the form rejection). This editor loved my Listening Through the Bible idea.  Then she asked, “Can you write 500 words on this topic by _____ a specific date a few weeks away?” Instantly I agreed. The article was published and reprinted numerous times. (In fact, I need to pull out that reprint and get it back into the market. As a former magazine editor, I know the editors are looking for content for their January 2021 issues).
Hope springs eternal for writers — who are in the marketplace of ideas. Jump in the water with excellent writing. The water is fine.
Are you pitching editors at magazines? What are some of your stumbling blocks as a writer? Let me know in the comments and I look forward to helping you.

It's a simple truth: Published Writers Must Be Pitching. Get the details from this prolific writer and editor. (ClickToTweet)

W. Terry Whalin is an acquisitions editor at Morgan James Publishing. His work contact information is on the bottom of the second page (follow this link).  He has written for over 50 magazines and more than 60 books with traditional publishers. His latest book for writers is 10 Publishing Myths, Insights Every Author Needs to Succeed. Get this book for only $10 + free shipping and over $200 in bonuses. One of Terry's most popular free ebooks is Straight Talk From the Editor, 18 Keys to a Rejection-Proof Submission. He lives in Colorado and has over 200,000 twitter followers


WiseOwlFactory said...

Inspiring. Writers should not give up hope.

WiseOwlFactory said...

Motivation to stay optimistic and carry on!

Karen Cioffi said...

Terry, thanks for the reminder that writers must always be pitching their work. I love the experience you had with an article that was rejected, but eventually your old query was found by a new editor looking for stories. Even rejections can turn into work.

Terry Whalin said...


Thank you for this comment. As a much published author, I'd love for the editors to come to me--but that is rare. The majority of the time I still have to pitch.


Linda Wilson said...

Terry, your article gives hope to writers who might not keep trying on an article or story that is rejected, and as you point out, even numerous times. A similar truth is in submitting short stories. As long as the writer is careful to follow each publication's specific guidelines, a well-crafted story can find a home. The writer just needs to keep submitting. Regarding those stories we writers delegate to "the drawer," I've pulled several stories out, reworked them, and now I'm having two of those past projects made into picture books, with the help of my two critique groups and a read-through by a professional editor. Writers need to remember that no one else can tell the story that they have in their hearts, they just need to believe in them, get the help of others, and then send them out.

Terry Whalin said...


Thank you fo rthis comment and the insights for every author. Most of us give up too early. the reality is it takes work to find the right place to publish our work--and it might not happen on the first or tenth submission. If you believe the piece should e published--and I hope you do because you wrote it in the first place--then you need to keep looking for that right place to publish it. Most of us forget Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen were rejected 140 times before they published the first Chicken Soup for the Soul book--one of the most successful book series in the English language. Their persistence paid off and it will for others too--provided they don't give up.


Carolyn Howard-Johnson said...

Terry, I love how you often (always?) share your own story associated with whatever topic you are covering. You have probably read Nina Amir's Wired for Story. Between my interest in writing and anthropology, I devoured it!

By the way, over the years I have found great opportunities hiding in unexpected places, too!


Terry Whalin said...


Thank you for this comment and the feedback. Yes I believe my personal stories are helpful to show the readers that I've done and they can do it too. Each of us have amazing opportunities if we keep looking for them and are open to new options. Persistence and finding the right place is a critical part of the process to finding these unexpected places.

Terry said...

Terry, thank you for these words of encouragement.

I've been so busy, being an ADHD survivor and author and that many things and events (online) have been happening for me. These last six months have been the "most creative times" I have ever experienced in my "artistic life"! I am seeking your feedback due to my contract with the self-publishing agency, which will run out in early 2021, and I DON'T want to renew with them again!

I'm at that crossroads, where my book has done very well, being a "self-published autobiography," and it's now in 40 international bookstores and websites. I am also developing an ADHD related podcast that will release this week.

I am looking for a Christian publisher (like Harper Collins Christian) to re-print my book and make a few editing changes. I would like this book to be available in HC, as now it's in PB. How do you pitch it to an established publisher, with a viable product but that I want to get the book "out there to ADHD individuals or families," have a marketing and publicity budget and that more "book people" will be able to view it, review it and make it seen in the mainstream book industry?

By the way, I'm an alumnus of NPS with Steve Harrison, Class of 2015, and much of the book's success was from the new tips that I learned in Steve's course.

I would greatly appreciate your feedback. Many blessings, W. Ian Walker

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