Nothing Personal

The pitching process never surprises me anymore.

My ideas have been ignored, rejected, accepted within minutes, ignored then accepted five months later, and approved by one editor then turned down by her replacement a few weeks later. I’ve been asked for more information then hired, asked for more information then ignored, accepted with modifications, and even offered something in lieu of my own idea.

When pitching an editor I have never worked with, I choose to believe very little of these interactions are personal and, in fact, most are completely impersonal. I’ve never analyzed my pitch:acceptance ratio, and doubt it would be good for my self esteem. A successful pitch is exceedingly good for my self esteem, however, and I guess I’ve had enough of them to keep me at it. 

I recently submitted an idea to a top tier women’s magazine that was accepted. Since I’d never written for them before, my initial pitch was to write a short piece, and I was thrilled when the editor assigned my idea as a 150-word sidebar to accompany a longer feature (proving that timing is almost everything). It was an interesting subject, paid well, and might be a gateway into a hard-to-tap market.

And so, I researched, wrote and submitted the article, received feedback, turned in a revision, got the okay and was paid. A few months later, I bought the issue expecting to find my published path to glory, but it was nowhere to be found. I contacted the editor, who explained that my article was snipped in design due to space issues.

Obviously, this was a disappointment, and I spent at least 24 hours whining about my bad luck. Then, I reminded myself that even this was not personal, and to try and view the entire process as a positive one. Some days, when I’m pitching, I cop an attitude based on the simple fact that I pitched, wrote and got paid for that little 150-word piece. Whatever it takes to get your mojo running, I say.

It was also a conundrum, however, because the magazine owned the content. After contacting the editor and re-reading my contract, it is still not clear to me whether I have the right to sell the story elsewhere. Therefore, I’m publishing it here, so maybe I won’t be the only one who knows how fabulously I can write a 150-word sidebar/menu about food and brain health. Isn’t it cute!

Brain Health à la Carte
A daily menu designed to keep you sharp.
By Jill Coody Smits

Cinnamon toast: Cinnamon is a powerful antioxidant, and early research suggests it may inhibit plaque formation that can lead to neurodegenerative diseases. If you don’t like how the pungent spice tastes, try taking a whiff of your officemate’s cinnamon-spiked oatmeal. At least one study found the scent alone can boost your attention span.

Coffee break
Trail mix: Raisins, dates and granola are chock full of potassium, a vital electrolyte that sparks communication between the brain and the rest of your body. Pub quizzers take note: a deficiency can adversely affect memory.

Hummus wrap: The sesame seed tahini lovingly stuffed into your pita pocket contains zinc, a mineral recent research suggests is the big boss when it comes to regulating brain cell communication and memory formation.

Afternoon snack
Apple slices: Forego the microwave popcorn. Apple juice concentrate has been found to boost the brain’s production of the essential neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which may, in turn, boost your memory.

Rosemary pork tenderloin: Research shows that carnosic acid found in rosemary guards against free radical cells that contribute to normal age-related brain deterioration, as well as more malevolent conditions like Alzheimer’s.