Anatomy of a Rejection

Screen Shot 2018-02-05 at 3.46.27 PMWhen I unsuccessfully pitched my Year of Frederick Douglass idea to several
publications, I thought someone would surely take it. One of my queries:

It’s the Year of Frederick Douglass!
The abolitionist, orator, and former slave got a pre-200th birthday shout out last February when President Trump kicked off Black History Month by suggesting that Douglass might still be out there doing big things. 

Though he’s been gone since 1895, his accomplishments in the areas of civil rights, women’s suffrage, and self-definition continue to resonate, and more than 40 organizations from Rochester, NY, to Edinburgh, Scotland, have planned a full year’s worth of bicentennial events. 

I’ve spoken to the heads of a number of these organizations, and also interviewed two of Douglass descendants. The latter are giving away a million copies of Douglass first autobiography. I’ve spoken with the descendant of a family that still lives on the land where Douglass was enslaved, and later returned to spend an afternoon with his former enslaver.  Lastly I’ve spoken with a Harvard professor/Douglass’ scholar who’s coffee-table book, Picturing Frederick Douglass, is being reissued with eight never-before-seen photos in February. (Here’s a story I wrote about the book for NBCBLK.)

I can turn around “Descending from Douglass,” a 1500- to 2000-word feature in two or three days. It will highlight the year’s events, while exploring why a man who was friends with President Lincoln and abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison, still resonates with people on both sides of the Atlantic today.

But nope…

(1) Popular Women’s Magazine
Hi Pamela!
Interested and would love to hear more. Are you available for a quick chat on Friday morning?

Subsequent emails got no response.

(2) Atlantic
Hi Pamela,
Thank you so much for your pitch. At this time, it doesn’t seem like quite the right fit, but we appreciate the chance to consider it and wish you well in placing your story elsewhere.

(3) NY Times
Hi Pamela,
Thanks for following up. I don’t think this is quite right for the magazine at the moment. I’m going to pass.

The good news is, though, that a friend may join me on the blog with his illustrations. So I won’t be confined to 1,500 or 2000 words, and can really let this story open up and unfold.