What Editors Can Learn from the Movie Up In The Air starring George Clooney
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What Editors Can Learn from the Movie Up In The Air starring George Clooney

This is an article about the common problems writers have and how editors can help them out by saving both sides time.

Up in the Air starring George Clooney Image via: sinefabrik.files.wordpress.com


Up in the Air is a drama/romance about Ryan Bingham (George Clooney) whose job is to fly to whichever company has hired his company to take care of the layoffs. Ryan spends most of his time up in the air, flying to different cities and he loves his job. Of course telling people that they are fired is not pleasant. People hate his guts and their own companies since they weren’t man enough to handle this on their own. The movie is from 2009 and it was nominated for 6 Oscars and is rated a stellar 7.8 on IMDB, voted by over 61.000 people.

Yes, it is protocol to let someone know they are fired but no one (on the employer’s end) seems to care whether you know you are qualified for the job or not. Not hearing from potential employers is a common problem for both writers and people from other professions. But when you are an aspiring writer, there is a chance you are submitting more applications, stories and articles than a person who wants to find a job in another industry. Not hearing from an editor doesn’t necessarily mean you are not suitable for the job. While more often than not it means that you are rejected, it can also mean that your submission got lost among hundreds and thousands of others and the editor or his/her assistant didn’t get to read it. You can choose to follow up according to their submission guidelines (some publications prompt you to check in 2 weeks, some in 2 months or more), there is a big chance that your follow-up can also get lost among other e-mails.


How many of you applied to magazines and other freelance writing gigs? You chose, edited or wrote the perfect sample(s), wrote a great email and didn’t hear from editors even after months passed. Yes, not being hired to do a gig you wanted is not good but it just feels much better if people officially let you know you know about it.

Wouldn’t it be just fine if every editor had one secretary/assistant just to deal with the writers that weren’t hired? If that takes too much effort, they can at least prepare a generic email to inform applicants about their decision. It won’t be satisfactory but it will help the writers save time and move on.

I previously wrote an article called How to Handle Your Rejection Letters. While rejection is unpleasant, it is better than ambiguity.

I do realize editors are busy but so are writers. Most aspiring writers are one-person businesses, they write, edit, blog, market, research, read, deal with emails and job-applications. And editors were not born editors. If they can use a little empathy and remember the times they were trying to build their careers and reach potential employers, sending at least a generic reply may not seem such a waste of their precious time.


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Comments (9)

Great article, Pinar! I recently received a rejection letter that was so badly scrawled, I couldn't read it! The only legible words were "returned unread" which wasn't particularly helpful! I do agree that a generic email is at least some kind of ending that allows a writer to move on. In a related issue, I watched "Undercover Boss" earlier tonight - editors and publishers should give this a try!

I just checked out the imdb page of Undercover Boss. Great idea for a reality show and it would make a good drama/comedy fictional series as well. Will try to see if I can catch it. Thanks for the suggestion!

An interesting film, I'll look for that one. Excellent write as always.

You're absolutely right. I think editors get away with murder.

Hmmm... quite a fact.

Great article reviewing the film in a very interesting way.

Watched this movie recently, -was better than I expected...

@Will: I think you might enjoy it. @Kathleen: Yep! Wish we could do something to change that attitude.

@Michael: Thanks. @thestickman: yeah, I think it was pretty good too.