Wayne E. Pollard's No B.S. Blog for Writers

Writing Advice Without the B.S.

Don’t Call an Editor About Your Query: B.S.!

with 9 comments

I was reading a list of tips for freelance writers when I came across this common tip. Writers are often told not to call an editor about a query or to at least wait a month or so before calling to follow up. This advice usually comes from editors. You know what I say?


I say, if you already have some bylines and you’re comfortable with pitching a story idea, call the editor and pitch the idea before you send the query letter. In many cases, the editor can tell you, right then, if she wants the article. Then, the editor will be expecting your query letter.

This is exactly how I got published in The New York Times, The Village Voice, Writer’s Digest, and many other publications. And, it is how I’ve helped most of my clients get published.

When you call the editor, you need to give your pitch in under fifteen seconds.

That’s right. Fifteen seconds.

During the fifteen seconds, you must state your name, two or three places where you’ve been published, your article’s title or subject, and you must say that you know the editor hasn’t published anything like it in the past three years. (This means you must do your research!)

Then pause and wait for the reply.

If the editor says she likes the idea, ask for the word count and deadline. And send a follow up email that confirms what was discussed.

And if the editor says she is on deadline and can’t talk, apologize and say you’ll send an email.  

Do this if you have some bylines under your belt, if you know you have a good story, and if you’re comfortable with pitching story ideas over the phone.

Practice your pitch. Say it until you’re comfortable. When I call editors, I say, “Hi. My name is Wayne Pollard. My work’s been published in The New York Times, The Village Voice and Writer’s Digest. I’m calling you because I’d like to submit an article called….”

Fifteen seconds.

You’re probably thinking that this only works for me because of where my work’s been published.


I used this method when I had only one magazine article under my belt and it helped me get a gig as a stringer for the business section of a Gannett-owned newspaper.  

The editor just needs to know that you can actually write. So, put your best foot forward when you decide which publications to mention.

If you’re trying to get a piece in your local community paper, then mentioning that you’ve had pieces in your college’s paper might be fine. However, if you’re pitching a piece to a national publicatioin, you must have something other than a byline in your college paper or an unknown blog. If you don’t have the bylines, your article idea needs to be great and you must be able to convince the editor that you’re the only person who can write the article.

When you use this method, you cut days or even weeks of waiting for a reply. Trust me; it’s better to get a quick rejection over the phone than to get a rejection after waiting a month for a reply.

A good story is a good story. And if your story is good, the editor will be glad to get your call.

Have you ever pitched an idea to an editor? Tell me about your experience.


Written by Wayne

August 2, 2011 at 11:58 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

9 Responses

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  1. Good advice!


    August 3, 2011 at 6:28 pm

  2. My first experience with cold calling is to the Editor of an International Publication. The call was placed during a time I was wondering…”Am I a writer?” . I asked her, “how will I know when I am ready to submit my articles to you. She responded the same day. Advise? It was simple. Write. Keep writing. When I write something that is outstanding, even to myself, email her. The first step, know I am a professional writer. Own it, name it, speak it, write it.


    August 3, 2011 at 9:49 pm

  3. Looks great, Wayne and excellent advice, too.

    Lisa Duggan

    August 3, 2011 at 10:07 pm

  4. I am not very fond of calling editors. For some reason, when it comes to business, I prefer e-mails, or face-to-face. But then again, I’d go bankrupt if I called editors beforehand (I live far away from the editors I’d want to call):)

    But I can see the postive side. But usually, the advice “don’t call the editors” comes from the magazine’s own guidelines. At least that’s where I see it most. So you think they are just trying to weed out the writers without much experience (and guts) when they say that?

    Pinar Tarhan

    August 8, 2011 at 11:12 am

    • You’re right, Pinar–this advice usually comes from the publication’s guidelines. The truth is, most of the story ideas will be rejected. So, editors don’t have time to talk all the writers who pitch ideas that are going to be rejected. Thus, they tell writers “don’t call.” However, if you KNOW that your idea is a great one that the readers will want to read and you have an impressive byline or two, calling the editors will separate you from the other writers with ideas.

      Thanks for your comment. I appreciate!!

      Wayne E.

      August 8, 2011 at 11:57 am

  5. Thanks on your marvelous posting! I seriously enjoyed reading it, you are a great
    author. I will be sure to bookmark your blog and will often come back later in life.
    I want to encourage you to definitely continue your great
    posts, have a nice evening!

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