Wordpreneur Notebook • April 22, 2021

Move on, and keep moving on.

Observation: A number of freelance writing noobs always seem to spend an unhealthy amount of time sweating—even lamenting—the absence of a reply to their applications to gig ads, proposals and queries. “Why haven’t I heard back from them? Shouldn’t they have said yes or no by now? Can I follow up? Is it too soon to follow up?” blah blah that kind of stuff.

Hate to break it to you, but good chance that that non-reply is the reply. Take the hint.

The right thing for potential clients and publishers to do, of course, is to acknowledge receipt of your email or whatever you submitted, and then give you a definite yes or no. Some do, but I’d say way more than just most of them do not. Maybe you haven’t noticed, but sticking to old school rules of business etiquette isn’t quite a thing anymore. (Do them, by the way; since far fewer people bother with etiquette nowadays, when you do it, people notice, and positively.)

Of course, there’s always a chance they haven’t made a decision yet. What do you think, they’re hovering over their email inbox just waiting for your stupendous email to come in, the answer to all their prayers they’ve been nervously anticipating? More than likely, they shovel all those emails, queries, proposals, etc., into some folder for “later review” (aka whenever they farking feel like it). And when they do get around to it, they’ll likely rush through the mess, pick out a few that catch their eye for whatever reason to go over again a bit more meticulously, and just chuck out the rest. So really, if there’s nothing in whatever you’ve sent them that catches their attention, and quickly, chances are they haven’t fully read it let alone considered much of anything in it, and junked it.

Harsh? You probably do the very same thing with the email that goes into your inbox. If you do it, why would you expect them to behave any differently?

But enough of that reality. Point is, waiting for and worrying about a response is a silly waste of time. Maybe energy, but that you can replenish. Time, not so much. As in the “permanently gone and can never ever ever get back” kind of not so much. So basically, if you tend to do that silly thing, quit it.

Here’s what to do instead:

  1. After sending them whatever, schedule a reminder to do a follow-up email in your calendar (use your head to figure out when that would be; each situation is different).
  2. Clear your head of that job, and move on to the next thing.

Search for more gigs. Tweak your website or social media profiles. Write some sample material. Work on that book or report that you may be able to sell independently. Do the bills. Move forward and do professional stuff, business as usual, no dwelling on anything already “done” and really out of your control. Until your calendar reminds you to follow-up, of course.

After that follow-up? I chuck it out permanently. Two balls are in their court now. Anything more you try to do than that will likely just end up pissing them off. If I hear back and/or anything good comes of it, cool! If not, heck if it matters; it’s out of my mind and I’m already focused on something else.

Keep moving on. Quite frankly, if you’re emotionally incapable of doing so, seriously consider that day job thing.

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