Transparency in the Business of Writing for a Living Helps Everyone

Sharing numbers on pitching and acceptance/rejection rates should not be a secret. The data can help all freelance writers understand the real work.

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Lots of end-of-year roundups with pieces writers published throughout 2020 have been circling around social media. Those are great, but one of my writer-friends posted her pitching stats rather than an end-of-year roundup and it was inspiring to see the actual work of writing quantitively. I am not a seasoned freelancer, but I have experienced some success since starting out. I think it is important to see it is not all rosy published pieces. It is hard work. There is researching, writing, toughening up your skin for rejection, and just staying in the game. Below are my stats.

Acceptance Rate: 20%

A magazine hired me as a staff writer in March. They let me go two weeks later. They folded a month after that.

I grieved and then sent my first really bad pitch July 17th to Taste (editors I aspire to work with). It was long, overly narrative, and generally just not good. But, I got a really nice rejection which gave me hope to keep going.

I did not send another until August 24th, after I read and studied publications I wanted to work with. First accepted pitch came August 27th. I researched writers and editors I admired. Took a bunch of Zoom panels, listened to podcasts, watched webinars, enrolled in a food writing course and worked on how to pitch successfully.

All of my accepted pitches were commissioned between August 27th and December 8th. I have 21 pitches out and hope to place a few of those between now and January. I also have done developmental editing for a couple of poetry collections, copywriting for a graphic design company, wrote some pieces for Medium pubs, and developed some walking food tours.

Check out Julie Vick’s recap from 2019- it is nicely detailed!

My freelance pie is pretty diverse. I learned that strategy from The Writers’ Co-op😊 I am fortunate in my relative success, but that is all thanks to what I learned from Tim Herrera, Lola Mendez, Sonia Weiser, Akanksha Singh, Hannah Howard & many generous editors ❤️

Secret: Build your network and listen to their guidance.

The more we share the work we do as writers with each other, the better the landscape will be for all of us. It is not easy to continue to put yourself out there knowing rejection is likely a high percentage of the time. But, the more each writer shares their failures, the more honest we can all be about what it takes to support yourself as a freelance writer.

I thought going into this I could support myself with essays and articles. I quickly realized that is not the case. I also realized I like diversifying. The collaborative process of developmental editing is gratifying. Writing copy for a graphic design company keeps me sharp on the principles of good visual-verbal connection. Food tours are just fun to write- I get to relive great gustatory moments as I guide someone else along a path I traveled.

My reach goal for 2021 is to have a shiny piece in the glossy PRINT pages of Saveur, write more deeply about the world of food justice, and place some personal essay. I can say I did receive a very sweet rejection from the mountain top, Modern Love. Manifest your goal for 2021. Say it out loud.

No matter how new you are share your stats, share rates if you can, engage in the conversation going on in the writing world so we can all help each other be more successful and less stressed. Freelancing does not have to be a nebulous undertaking. Like so many other aspects of the publishing world this year, it is time for transparency.

Freelance writer who loves eating messy food, drinking spicy tempranillos, and finding the next great dive bar.

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