I queried an editor the other day (Not Ms. “What’s In Ohio?”) and received the following rejection:
You seem really good at establishing a rapport with subjects, but I don’t think we want anyone on the VooDoo tour.
Thanks for writing, though. If you come across any big name acts in the future that would be good for the (publication name removed) audience who we haven’t already covered, I’d be happy to hear a pitch for them.
For those of you not familiar with the joy (and I use that term loosely) of freelancing, there is a code to rejection letters that goes as follows:
– If they encourage you to query further, they think you have potential but they’re just not digging your current offering.
– If they comment on your samples, they actually took the time to read the dang things and didn’t just skim. This means they were INTERESTED IN WHAT YOU HAD TO SAY.
But then there’s still the “fuck you, go away” that you have to contend with. And honestly, this one confuses me. There are a bajillion bands playing at VooDoo, and the headliners are Red Hot Chili Peppers and Duran Duran. This same publication had an absurd non-interview with Billy Idol over a year ago. How could they not find some artist in the line-up worthy of their pages?
In the spirit of absurdity, I forwarded this email to fellow wordsmith Brian Lisik. He suggested that maybe it was a money issue; perhaps the publication didn’t think they had the financial resources to make it happen. While this had never occured to me, I have to admit that the prior editor, Yes, Ms. “Is Ohio is even part of the United States?”, had begun peppering me with inquiries such as “Do you have a place to stay? Do you have a way down there?” etc. I kept insisting to her that I was already GOING to the festival, I was simply looking for a way to combine work with fun. (I’d conduct my reviews before I started partaking of the free booze, I promise! No, really.) So maybe Brian was on to something, I don’t know. The irony here is that in my original query, I did state I was going, not that I was considering the situation. And I’m not particularly looking for a big payday here, but more for a way to maximize the already existing adventure.
Now cut ahead a bit in my day and you’ll find me perusing an essay on Mike Rowe from Discovery Channel’s “Dirty Jobs”, as published in an alternative weekly newspaper here in NEO. Admittedly a fan of the show, I immediately tuned in to hear what this writer had to say. Little did I know I’d be treated to a barrage of “I want to fuck your brains out” and “I really want to see your dick” interspersed with some humorous commentary regarding typically obsessed fans holding court on message boards. While I can be as bawdy as the next girl (usually more so), her reference to “a case of cheese dick” really made me wonder if I was reading some fifteen year old boy’s interpretation of penthouse forum and jackass.
After forwarding this mess to Brian (can you see a pattern here?) and then appropriately grossing him out by reading him the nastier bits via cell phone (and he was thinking he’d be getting some projected woody out of the deal – heh), I headed over to this author’s website and blog. She’s the editor a provincial local township publication – please regress to Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, “There must be more than this provincial life…” – author of a book on a small indie house, errant freelancer and keeper of the blog. She seems intelligent and funny, but like most blogs, it is a commentary on her life and that of her friends and nothing of regional, state, national or global import. Yet she states it is this blog that provoked the editor of aforementioned publication to give her the column that spawned the Mike Rowe’s Cheese Dick essay.
So I’m perplexed. Because whatever this writer’s point, the fact Brian and I had to spend twenty minutes discussing and debating the matter says that whatever her subtext, it’s lost.
Concoct relevant story ideas, the experts say.
Compose intelligent, thoughtful query letters, the how-to gurus insist.
We’re always looking for enthusiastic writers with great ideas, editors declare.
Perhaps I should just start blogging about rancid greyhound farts, irritating pubic stubble, snot-encrusted nose hairs, and every instance I’ve stumbled upon some rockstar (or wannabe) with his groupie of the moment.
Think someone would give me a column? Cuz I could sure use the money.