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So you’ve done your killer pitch, hit send, and then…nothing! Should you wait a week, two weeks, a month to follow up? Or just not bother? 

Luckily there are ways around this situation with what I call pitching at a higher level. 

One of the biggest worries for any writer pitching stories to an editor is wondering whether or not the editor even saw your email. After all email is not infallible. Over-zealous filters can send your email to junk or simply fail to ever reach the destination. 

To get around this, I always request a read receipt. If you have this option through your email provider, you can check in one or two clicks whether or not your email was opened. 

Generally, if you receive a read receipt but no reply, you can assume the editor isn’t interested in your story. No matter how good your pitch is, the editor might not think it’s a fit for her publication. But don’t give up yet — if you have an alternative way of spinning the article, this may well hook your editor. 

Putting a new spin on it is often as simple as concentrating on an individual aspect of the piece. Or if that’s what you’ve already done, maybe offer something a bit broader. (I’ll show you what I mean below.)

You could also send a follow-up email — although there conflict among writers about whether this is good practice. Some say you should never do this. But I write my follow up emails a little differently than most. 

Here’s an example from this past December…

In my first pitch to the editor, I sent an idea about the snow monkeys in Nagano Prefecture in Japan who wallow in hot spring waters to avoid the cold. 

At the end I said I could alternatively combine this into a more general article about how to enjoy a visit to Nagano Prefecture in winter. 

After a week or so I hadn’t received a read receipt, and so I sent a new query about Doha, along with a sentence saying “Can I take it that the snow monkeys were not of interest?” at the beginning of the email. 

I quickly got an email rejecting Doha but saying they would be interested in the more general idea about Nagano Prefecture. 

The resultant article and pictures appeared in the South China Morning Post’s weekend Post Magazine in January. 

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