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Friday, April 17, 2009

How To Write Query Letters

How To Write Query Letters

Getting into the writing field may be no more difficult than asking your hometown newspaper if they will accept (and possibly pay for) a short article you have written. But, the standard for the industry is to send QUERIES to the publications you want to write for. A query is the writing industries standard way of proposing an idea or future article for a publication.
Many publications will not accept unsolicited manuscripts. Even those that do would rather read a well-written, creative letter outlining a proposed article than wade through a 2,000 word piece to find it acceptable. Your query letter can open the door that might have otherwise been slammed in your face. Your letter should be an example of proficient writing that piques the editor's interest in your subject and the angle you're planning to use.
While many publications will not accept manuscripts currently being considered by another publication, you can send query letters to several at the same time. If you are fortunate enough to have more than one acceptance, you can always write two articles with different slants from the same research.
After you send out your query, one way to avoid hovering over the mailbox is to do it again. Don't just send off one query and wait for the verdict, send numerous query letters out constantly, never waiting to hear from one before sending the next. If you receive a rejection, move along to the next publisher and pump out a new cover letter, so you can do it again. You can't sell what's sitting in a rejection pile.
The Components of a Query Letter
First off, always follow the publications submission guidelines. Don’t re-invent the wheel, follow them to letter. However, if they just request a query letter, here’s the components. The best query letters have 3 paragraphs:

  1. The first paragraph is your hook. Editors are very busy and under a lot of stress to meet deadlines. If you don’t grab their attention in the first paragraph, you’ve lost. Hint: When your query is accepted, use the first paragraph of your query as the first paragraph of your article.
  2. The second paragraph should be used to briefly summarize your article.
  3. The third paragraph is for your bio. Briefly describe qualifications, experience and credits. Also, indicate any experts you plan on interviewing and if you can supply photos.

Finally, always include multiple methods of contact (i.e. phone, email and address)
To your success,

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