It feels good when you’ve done your research before pitching an article idea to an editor:
- You know the publication’s audience.
- You know your topic offers value in unique ways.
- You know the editor’s content preferences and pet peeves.
But you’re not done yet.
Although hitting the “send” button on your email seems like an inconsequential step in your article-pitching process, pause before you take that action.
That moment of excited impatience could spoil all of the important research you’ve just performed.
Caution: avoid these days of the week
Have you ever suggested a fun activity to a friend, significant other, or family member when they’re in a bad mood … and they immediately decline?
Although they typically would love your idea, you’ve asked them at a time when they don’t want to be bothered.
I compare that experience to submitting an article pitch to an editor on a Friday or Monday.
Friday is a day to wrap up the workweek before the weekend and organize upcoming tasks.
Monday is a day to catch up from the weekend and start juggling pressing priorities.
When you reach out to someone you don’t know, your email might get lost in the hustle and bustle of those busy days. If you’ve worked with the editor before, it still might not be a priority to review your article pitch promptly.
My theory about Fridays and Mondays is absolutely not a strict rule.
After all, an editor might have requested that you submit a pitch to them on a Friday or Monday.
It’s simply a way to think about reaching out to someone when they might be more receptive to hearing your idea.
Keeping that guideline in mind, I’ve had a high success rate of getting responses from editors over the years.
Short-term and long-term to-do lists
We all have to prioritize our work, and there are two common types of to-do lists.
- Short-term to-do lists: work that must get done that day … or that week
- Long-term to-do lists: work that is not a top priority but needs to get done eventually
If you send an article pitch on a Friday or Monday, the editor might want to respond. But as they prioritize their work, your email could end up on their long-term to-do list (or even their I-keep-forgetting-about-that list).
Instead, if you send an important email on a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday, replying to your email might be viewed as a short-term to-do list item. It’s often a lot easier to tackle work as it comes in once the week is rolling along.
I used the phrase “an important email” above because this advice can also be applied to optimize your chances of reaching anyone (coworkers, managers, dental hygienists, etc.) at a favorable time.
People are people
You’re not sending a message to a continually enthusiastic robot that reviews all of the emails it receives with perfect care and objectivity.
You’re emailing another person … a human being.
How important is the content of this email for the recipient? Will it be helpful for them to have this information right now? Or, is it just important to me because of the time and effort I’ve spent crafting it?
If it’s mainly important to you, is there a better time to send the email?
There may not be.
But pausing here gives you a chance to think about whether or not the person may prefer to receive it at another time.
What do you know about their current schedule? Do they have more free time the following week? If it’s an article pitch, would waiting to submit your idea until later in the year be beneficial?
Unless an email is urgent, I’ll wait a few days and then decide if it makes sense to send it or continue to wait.
What if you don’t hear back from the editor?
Of course, there is no guarantee you’ll get a quick reply — or any reply — even if you carefully choose when to send an email.
I like the Two-Week Rule when following up with an editor.
One week can go by quickly, but after two weeks, it’s reasonable to check in to see if the editor is considering your topic.
And if you do get a response, it might not be the “Yes” you want to hear.
Pitches that are poorly researched or have grammar errors and typos will likely get marked as spam.
If you submit an article to a publication that doesn’t review unsolicited pitches, you likely won’t get a response no matter how compelling your topic is.
For example, Copyblogger does not currently review unsolicited guest post pitches.
There are also many factors out of your control, so be patient and don’t take any response personally.
Trust the editor’s judgment.
A different publication may be an even better fit for your idea … and a rejection from one editor creates an opportunity to explore other options.