Persistence pays off. After I submit an article to a magazine and receive no response, I wait an appropriate amount of time--three months is my usual rule of thumb–then I write a polite follow-up letter asking the magazine editor if she’s had a chance to review my submission. I enclose a copy of my original submission cover letter, which is the sales pitch for the article, and an SASE.
The response I've had to these follow-up letters has been gratifying: On one, I received a prompt telephone call. "Mary, thanks for reminding me. I'd put your article aside and it got buried. I'd like to use your piece next month."
After I'd sent a reminder, an editor admitted they had lost my manuscript, but he thought the article would be something he could use. Would I resubmit the manuscript? Would I! The article was published within two months.
One local sailing magazine didn't respond in a timely fashion but called me after my follow-up letter. He liked the article, but his magazine was no longer doing destination pieces. However, he needed someone to write a monthly "event" feature story, which I agreed to do. This new opportunity stemmed from my reminder letter.
Of course, not all my follow-up letters have happy endings. Some of the articles come back rejected, but at least I know the status and I can immediately resubmit the articles to another publication. If, after sending a follow-up letter I still don't hear anything within three months, I make a notation to never submit to that outfit again. As soon as possible I resubmit the article to another publication. The idea is to keep your articles circulating, not sitting on your or an editor's desk.
Over the years as a free-lance writer, I’ve had more than 400 articles published in magazines and newspapers. It’s been gratifying–not only for the income, but to have readers comment that they’ve seen my article in a magazine they subscribe to.
Following is a sample follow-up letter:
Dear Ms. Smith:
On October 5, 2010, I mailed to you "Celebrating Traditions" on hard copy and on disk in RTF format, together with a stamped self-address envelope. Included with the article on disk were digital images and a picture caption page. I am enclosing a copy of my cover letter for your review.
I would appreciate a reply if this article meets your editorial needs. Enclosed is a stamped self-addressed envelope for your convenience; or, if e-mail is more convenient, my e-mail address is listed below. I do not need the materials returned.
Thank you for your consideration.
Mary E. Trimble
Phone: (206) 555-2400