Why Did My Query Get Rejected?
In some ways we wish we could accept all our queries. It doesn’t make us feel good to say no. We have found that it isn’t possible to give each individual feedback on why a query was unsuccessful; some writers don’t want it, some would waste their time on false hopes, trying to “fix” the piece and, although the editorial we has taught creative writing, that’s not the relationship in play here.
So we are creating this blog post, as a handy reference to those in search of guidance on how to make a successful query to any magazine, or those wishing to have a list of reasons their query may not have worked.
Category One: Just No
Inquiries that begin “what kind of articles are you looking for?” (Always do your research before you query!)
Inquiries that present an article completely off topic for our magazine.
Inquiries about things we don’t do, such as guest posts, news reports or informational articles.
Inquiries that are written in “text speak” or no capitals, run on sentences etc. Although we do get and accept queries from people who are not native speakers, or speak a non-US dialect of English and we present their authentic voice when we publish, these individuals are clearly doing their best to communicate in formal, correct English when they contact us. If we get an email full of grammatical errors, in which the person could not be bothered to write complete sentences or correct spelling mistakes, we do not need to see any more of their work.
Category Two: Bad Luck
We just got and bought, or already have several, articles on the topic queried. Your article might even be better than what we have on hand, but sadly we can’t take another one.
Inquiries that arrive just after a spate of queries when our magazine was featured on a writing market website. Getting featured is a good news/bad news for us in a way. The good news is we get lots of good queries and great articles. The bad news is we get lots of good queries, which we end up turning away because our calendar is now full.
Category Three: The Agonizing Decision
This is the “should we” or “shouldn’t we” article. Typically this is an article that is well written, on topic, grammatically impeccable, the right length…but, it might, just might lack a certain je ne sais quoi. Typically the problem is that the work lacks emotional immediacy. There isn’t enough for the reader to empathize with or feel connected to. Often this is because a writer is trying to summarize several years’ worth of experiences into a single 1500 word article. If we are honest, we must admit that sometimes it comes down to a “judgment call” and sometimes a certain article might be accepted one day, and a very similar one rejected the next.