She blinded me with science

She blinded me with science

Despite my lack of technical training, I’ve interviewed a fair number of scientists. Right at the start of our conversation, I tell them that I don’t have a science background, and ask them to please explain things to me in layperson’s terms. Usually they get it that I’m not a colleague and keep things simple; if they get too complex or jargony, I’ll ask for an analogy.

I’m telling you this because I don’t want you to think that this new analysis about the pitching habits of science writers from The Open Notebook is only going to be of interest to science writers, rather than all freelancers. (The same can be said for most of TON’s content.)

The post by Jane C. Hu focuses specifically on gender differences when it comes to pitching:

Some editors say that in their experience, women are less likely to pitch a story after an initial rejection, whereas men get right back on the horse. “One pattern I’m seeing is that men pitch more persistently and optimistically,” says Laura Helmuth, the health, science, and environment editor at The Washington Post. “In response to rejection, men will come back immediately with another story idea, unapologetically.”

Jamie Shreeve, deputy editor-in-chief at National Geographic, also says men tend to pitch him more aggressively. Men are more likely to pitch him again, even if their previous work together did not go smoothly. “If I assign a story to a writer and it turns out to be a difficult project—because the rough draft isn’t good, or it takes me a lot of work to get it where I want it to go—it should be pretty obvious to the writer that this piece wasn’t an easy thing to get into shape,” he says. “But when the writer is male, he comes right back and pitches me [again]. I can’t think of a time a female writer has done that.”

I have heard more women freelance writers talk about confidence issues and imposter syndrome than men, but I’ve never seen a study like this that looks so explicitly at the different habits and responses freelancers have when pitching story ideas.

Regardless of your gender, it’s worth a read to see what other freelance writers do in the face of rejection.

Header image via GIPHY.

Want a blueprint for writing queries that editors find irresistible? Download a copy of the free eguide, “5 Proven Steps to Writing Queries that Sell.”

5 Steps to Writing Queries that Sell - button