Would it be a bad idea to ask for a criticism?


Advice and Rules Questions


I just sent my first product pitch to a 3PP open call. It got rejected via email. The rejection itself is fine; that happens to a lot of freelancers. But they didn’t explain why they rejected it. Apparently, they read the document and enjoyed it, but “were not going to go through with it at this time.”

Should I respond to them to ask specifically what kind of criticisms they had, if any, or should I let the dead topic rest? I’m looking to improve my skill as a writer, but I’d rather not burn any bridges.

RPG Superstar 2014 Top 4, RPG Superstar 2013 Top 32

Asking for more detailed feedback is unlikely to burn any bridges, but it's also possible they won't have time to send you any. I suggest you be polite about it and thank them for their time, and they'll let you know if they're too busy.

PS--if you're looking to get into RPG freelancing, I know a forum community for freelancers that you could consider joining. Let me know.


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They've already given you feedback. It was that they "were not ready to go through with it at this time."

After 200+ rejections, I think I have a statistically significant sample set. Most of the time on a rejection you won't get feedback--or get formulaic feedback like you received. Moreover, while you probably won't burn any bridges, it's probably kinda rude to press for feedback after a rejection.

Think of it this way--their jobs are to publish material and sell it. Any time they spend not on that costs them. And if every person who submitted to an open call requested feedback, it could easily paralyze any publisher with just doing feedback. Even responding "we don't give detailed feedback" to everyone who enters an open call requires sending... oh, who knows how many emails, in addition to the rejection email already sent. You've essentially doubled their workload of emails for the open call.

I realize that can be frustrating as all heck to get formulaic rejection. But the truth is, providing detailed, helpful feedback on a piece of writing is time-consuming and difficult. And asking for it after rejection is asking someone to work for you for free.

As hard as it may seem, and as much as you want to improve, it just isn't the job of editors/publishers/readers to help you with that. Mike Kimmel's recommendation of a forum community, however, is a good one. And finding any kind of community can be helpful in this regard.

EDIT - That said, on a few occasions I've gotten very helpful feedback on a rejection. And I've always been incredibly grateful--it's a real gift of someone's time.


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber
quibblemuch wrote:

They've already given you feedback. It was that they "were not ready to go through with it at this time."

I wouldn't consider that feedback. That's simply a rejection that offers no useful information. I recognize that most publishers on an open call aren't going to offer anything for feedback, but it's no use thinking you've gotten something when you really haven't.


Bill Dunn wrote:
quibblemuch wrote:

They've already given you feedback. It was that they "were not ready to go through with it at this time."

I wouldn't consider that feedback. That's simply a rejection that offers no useful information. I recognize that most publishers on an open call aren't going to offer anything for feedback, but it's no use thinking you've gotten something when you really haven't.

We're probably quibbling over terms. I think of any response as feedback. It might not be feedback I like. It might not be feedback that I can use. But it is feedback.

Now your point about it not being actionable is useful. There's not much sense in poring for hours over a formula to figure out what you could do differently.

Grand Lodge

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Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Roleplaying Guild Subscriber
quibblemuch wrote:
...quibbling...

;)

-Skeld


Asking for feedback is fine. A lot of producers are pretty swamped.

I will tell you that from a production side a lot of publishers have things already set a while in advance. Freelance pitches are generally the "ooh, that's something we HAVE to publish" rather than the "ooh, that's something we could/should publish".

Silver Crusade

If you're looking for a community to give feedback and are on discord, the devcord is always around to give help where it's needed, as we all know how important feedback can be.

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