You haven’t heard back in weeks. It’s obvious the editor is fascinated with the story but simply left for vacation before she could reply to you. (And you sent your pitch before she could set her out-of-office reply, obviously.)
Maybe she’s simply dealing with a mountain of email and is so flummoxed by the sheer size of it that she can’t get over the summit to see your glistening oasis of a pitch shining in the distance. She’ll get to it eventually.
You repeatedly refresh your inbox, waiting for a sign of life.
A new email arrives every 10 minutes, but it’s either from a mailing list you forgot you subscribed to or a PR person on her fourth “just checking in” email. You’ll keep refreshing anyway.
The Fatal Attraction approach. You start following the editor on Instagram, Twitter, or Snapchat—maybe all three—checking to make sure that, yes, she is indeed still alive and posting half-baked witticisms.
Was it Google then? Did Google purposefully not send your pitch because the search engine finally had enough of your weird searches? Why is everyone out to get you?
The editor is definitely posting on social media. Why don’t you just impress her with some hilarious comments and artful tweets?
She doesn’t know you personally, but seeing your name pop up in her feed may remind her not only that you exist, but that you’re the clever writer whose brilliant pitch she was just about to accept.
Your writer friend just had an article published by your dream publication. She tweets about how @amazingeditor was such a pleasure to work with. You hate her.
You pass the time by looking at the other stories in your dream magazine, only to declare them all “utter crap.”
Shouldn’t the editor you pitched be able to tell the difference in quality between your story about 10 ways dog-lovers are better than cat-lovers and all the other ones she gets from regular contributors? The media industry is a joke.
You decide the publication you pitched is actually so mediocre, its articles so tone-deaf, you wouldn’t even want to write for it if the editors wanted your idea. It would just look bad on your bylines to write for an outlet that is so obviously clueless.
Okay, so maybe it was your fault.
You review the pitch again and again, wondering whether tweaking that sentence, sending a different clip, or proclaiming yourself an award-winning journalist instead of a “freelance writer with years of dog-owning experience” would’ve made the difference.
Even the subject line is not immune to your desperate eye. Should you have written “Pitch” instead of “PITCH”? Does the editor hate all caps? You promise yourself you’ll never touch “caps lock” ever again.
Your career is over.
There’s no point in following up with this editor, or any other editor, ever. You research alternate career choices because you’re entirely sure you’ve failed at this one.
Maybe not the kind you want, but the kind you need.
Perhaps you could have done something differently to get your idea accepted, or perhaps it was entirely out of your hands. Regardless, the next step is up to you: Accept rejection, refine your pitch, find a new and better outlet, and send it out once more.
After all, if the worst happens, you’ll only have to go through 10 stages of rejection grief again. No big deal, right?