Not because it is a secret but because they are so overwhelmed by pitches and emails and their daily work that they don’t have the time to tell you this. Having written for various magazines for 5 years, and having pitched successfully many others including Forbes, I can tell you what editors never tell you.
If you ever tried or thought of trying to send an article pitch to an editor (but this is true for any cold email) and it was never answered, you might have made one of the below mistakes. But don’t worry, these are easy to avoid, and you will have a much higher response rate.
#1 Too much ado about you
It is obvious that in such an introductory email you would introduce yourself or your company to justify your expertise and why they should listen to you. However, this should not precede the fact that they are interested in your idea. So even if overall politeness and chronology tell you to introduce yourself first, in a pitch to the editor this should come only after you have their attention. And even then a brief intro is enough.
#2 They have just written about your topic
You don’t necessarily have to be a fan of the paper and read everything about them, but it is nice to have an idea about the types of articles they publish and check back a couple of months what they published to avoid repetition. Look for some niche area they don’t talk about and you could.
#3 You sent a full article
It might seem obvious to show that you can write well and send the whole article they just should publish. In reality (1) editors don’t have the time to read full articles pitched and (2) they prefer to be involved creating the piece. So better to send a few bullet points about what the article would include, or you might want to write a lead.
#4 “I can write about anything that is important for you.”
In most – if not all of the – cases this often used sentence just delegates the task of finding the idea to the editor. And this is exactly they would be happy to have help with. The best help if you come up with specific ideas and show how you would write them. If you have a blog or Facebook with similar topics, you can justify the interest in them.
#5 Sending too much information
It is tempting to attach all your previous work, achievements, blogs and websites, but the editor will surely feel overwhelmed by all these and will never take the time to find out from your blog who you are. On top of that heavy attachments could block their already stuffed email box. It is always nicer to offer in the email that you can send high-quality photos, a presentation etc if they want, and it is your job to make them want 🙂
# +1 Following up
Some editors would call it crazy chasing what some writers do. Following up on FB, Linkedin etc right after sending the email if they have seen your message is not the best way to make them reply. Some experts advise following up frequently using all channels, but I would say you should keep away from that. It can easily happen that the editor misses your first email, so a reminder can be helpful, but I prefer to wait for some time and to tie it to some additional info and then use the opportunity to ask about their opinion.