This Ann Friedman article in the Columbia Journalism Review highlights an experiment conducted by fiction writer David Cameron who took a story from the New Yorker gave it a new headline and pitched it to six editors to see if they would publish it.
Shockingly—okay, not at all shockingly—every single publication said no. Even The New Yorker.
- Cold submissions are a low priority.
- You have no clue what you are up against (in terms of other articles that the editor is working on).
- The editor doesn’t recognize your name (the need to build relationship is still high).
- You sent the exact same submission to six publications (and thus didn’t customize it to any of them).
- You didn’t have a fresh angle or timely hook.
The Slush Pile is a great reminder of the fundamentals of editorial relations: be relevant, don’t spam and build relationships.