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When Is Contact Annoying to an Editor? Ask Anne The Pro Writer

Dear Anne,

I am a seasoned freelance writer – been making a steady living at it for more than 4 years. A tactic I usually use to drum up business from a client I haven’t heard from in a while is to send them my standard “scheduling” email. AKA, something along the lines of, “Hi Client, hope this email finds you well. I’m doing some scheduling for November/December and was wondering if you had any projects for me.” etc etc. This usually works well to keep my name on an editor’s radar, even when they don’t have any work. I almost always hear back from them, either with a new project or with a note that says, “Nothing right now, but I’ll definitely keep you in mind for when I do!” It’s a nice way to stay in touch, I think. 

Anyway, I don’t know what’s up with me this week, but I’ve sent this email to 5 of my clients, and only got a response from 1! I don’t want to be a pest, but I’m both annoyed that they haven’t responded and also a little worried. And I hate being ignored. So, what do you think? When do follow-up emails become annoying? Is it overkill to pick up the phone and call them instead, saying something like, “I hadn’t heard back on my email and realize with your busy schedule, it probably fell through the cracks.” Will they appreciate being called and consider it a testament to how much I value their work, or will they find it annoying, preferring to contact me in their own good time and ignore me until then?

Was wondering your thoughts. 



Hi B,

First of all, congrats on four years of freelancing. Great job.  I know you actually wrote this on October 30; I’ve gotten behind! 

You don’t say what kind of projects you’re looking for. If it’s books or editing books, I suspect you’re asking to close to the end of the year holidays. Book publishing seems to shut down from November 1 or so until mid January. I’m sure that’s not totally true, but… so if it’s book projects I wouldn’t panic or call yet. Wait unti the second or third week in January and send the emails again and see what happens. If that doesn’t work, try calling one or two and see if you can figure out what’s going on. Don’t call when you’re feeling panicy or angry, only when you know how powerful you are.

If it’s magazine writing or shorter projects, a couple of phone calls to the one’s you know best only to confirm they got (or didn’t) your emails might be in order – same cautions as above.

Chances are it’s just the economy and they are only being slow. Keep working for new contacts, and by all means, let us know what happens and how you work this out.

Write well and often,

Two newsletters:
Abundant Freelance Writing – a resource for freelance writers including 3x a week job postings.
Writing With Vision – for those who want to get a book written.

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{ 1 comment… add one }
  • Lauri

    I have this same problem all the time. I work mostly on book and occasionally edit academic papers. I too do the every couple months email to check in with ppl. Sometimes it works – and sometimes I am ignored!

    I can tell you about my experience as an in-house book editor for 5 years. When people TRULY weren’t a good fit for our products, I let them know right away – there was no need to be polite, or keep wasting their time and ours. If someone was good and we truly didn’t have anything at the time, I either ignored their email (a terrible crime, I now realize!) or write them a generic-sounding “Thanks I’ll keep you in mind.” In fact, I would even have some au’s slated on books and get the whole thing moving behind the scenes before I would even consult with them.

    So I would say keep pushing. I think ppl shouldn’t be afraid of coming off as being pushy b/c if you are good, no one is going to *not* hire you b/c “she’s on the pushy side.” You can also send a more specific email to ppl who aren’t getting back to you that says, “I’d appreciate you letting me know if I am a good fit for your products” or even “I tend to send these check up emails; if that is not the best way to communicate with you, please let me know.” In fact, I did that with one of my eds. the other week and I heard right back from her, saying that she appreciated me jumpstarting her memory and that I should keep her on my list.

    Hope that helps!

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