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What’s Your Query To Acceptance Ratio

ask questionsDear Anne:

When starting as a freelancer, on average, how many queries did you make to get one article published?

@terrywriter via twitter

Hi Terry,

You know, I have no idea! Not really. I’m tempted to pick a number, and a low one because I look back and remember the good parts – that’s mostly the way I’m wired.

But I also remember what seems like stacks of SASEs (Self Addressed Stamped Envelopes) so I suspect any number I might pick would be totally bogus.

It was long before the internet of course, and everything was done by mail. Heck, I got started shortly before fax machines!

The first sale I had that resulted in royalties surprised the heck out of me. It was to Hazelden. It was a pamphlet about being single and staying sober – out of print now. I sent a single page query and they called me at work. (I still have one pamphlet for sale there – http://www.hazelden.org/OA_HTML/ibeCCtpItmDspRte.jsp?item=2144&sitex=10020:22372:US if you’re curious.)

Work those days was writing inside for a computer magazine called ProFiles: The Magazine for Kaypro Users. But I started getting published in magazines before then.

My memory is sure faulty on this subject. So I’ll make up some numbers that feel about right to me.

In the very beginning 1 in 15 or 20 or 25 queries is probably reasonable… I’m talking real, written queries to print magazines, focused, etc. Or to Agents or publishers. Getting published on the web is different.

The first sign of success may be when you start getting the occasional hand written personal rejection, particularly those with an invitation to submit something else.

Keep in mind, however, that even the most successful writer gets rejected, or, more likely, told s/he will be accepted with a major rewrite.

The trick is to focus each query tightly and to keep at it.

What’s your ratio of acceptance to rejection?



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