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Following up with editors – a guide

By March 22, 2017 No Comments

There are certain things that happen time and again when you’re freelancing. You pitch, you wait to hear back, you follow up. Any freelance writer will tell you that you have to follow up with editors.

Around 30% of my stories get commissioned after a follow up email, so I think it’s crucial you touch base with editors after you’ve sent your pitch or query letter and haven’t heard back.

Following up with editors – a guide

In terms of the time you wait before you follow up – there’s different opinions on that. Personally if the pitch is time sensitive I follow up within 24-48 hours, but if it’s not I tend to follow up after 10 days – 2 weeks.  

It can be tricky to know how to word your follow up emails to editors, so below is a guide of what I say. I always make sure my original pitch or query is in the body of my follow up email.

First follow up:

Hi [editor’s name],

I hope you are well.

I’m just checking in to see if my pitch below (sent on DATE) is of interest?



TIP: I find that if I get more responses if I change the original subject line from:

Pitch: The surprising truth about eating organic food to

Follow up to pitch: The surprising truth about eating organic food

Second and final follow up:

Hi [editor’s name],

I hope you are well.

I’m emailing to see whether you have had a chance to consider my pitch below (sent on DATE).

I’m keen to write this story for [publication], but I know you are incredibly busy. If you’re not interested, please don’t feel you have to reply – if I don’t hear from you by Friday, I’ll look to pitch it elsewhere.



Some people will send more than two follow ups and may also send an email to let the editor know that they’re taking their pitch elsewhere. Personally, if an editor has not replied after a pitch and two follows up, I’m letting it slide and pitching elsewhere.

I’m also not a fan of sending a ‘withdrawal’ email (and I’d never call it a withdrawal email – sounds kind of like you’re crabby). If a miracle happens and the editor gets back to you and says they do want it after all (but after when you’ve said you’ll pitch it elsewhere), you can easily reply with “As I didn’t hear back from you after I followed up so I thought you weren’t interested and have placed this story elsewhere.”

Not so long ago an editor replied to me 3 months after I’d sent her a pitch (and two follow ups). She asked if the story was still available. To me, that shows editors know writers will move on if they don’t hear back. 

How do you follow up with editors? Do you have any tips?

No Comments

  • Collette says:

    I’ve always struggled with the ‘withdrawal’ follow up, I worry that I’ll sound rude. Your examples are great, and if it’s ok with you I might use them as a guide.

  • Rosie Bell says:

    Hi Lindy,

    As always, this is exceptionally useful and to the point. Thanks again! Rosie Bell x

  • Hi Lindy, I found this post really useful. I was curious – with your time-sensitive posts, do you follow up in 24 hours, and then 24 hours after that for the second follow up? Or do you just do one follow up when you have a time-sensitive article and then move on?

    • Lindy Alexander says:

      Thanks Kirsten 🙂 So with my time-sensitive pitches I tend to either let the editor know that because it’s time-sensitive I’ve also pitched to other publications (and first in best dressed) or if I have a little wriggle room in terms of time, I send a second follow up and say something like, "I know you’re busy so if I don’t hear from you by XXX I’ll assume it’s a pass and I’ll look to pitch elsewhere".

  • Linda Hansen says:

    What if the editor’s name is unknown? Other than that, great tips for following up on a pitch!

  • Hi Lindy,

    Thank you for your informative post. As someone who is just beginning to freelance, I found your advice extremely helpful.

    Quick question: If a pitch is not time sensitive, do you also wait 10 days to 2 weeks between your first follow up and your second (and final) follow up?

    Thank you,
    Ashley Jordan

    • Lindy Alexander says:

      Hi Ashley, thanks for your message. That’s a good question. No usually with the second follow up I wait a week or so and then follow up because by then I’m usually keen to find out if I should move on and pitch it elsewhere. Hope that helps?

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