Posts Tagged ‘query writing tips’
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The Holly Query
Your relationship with an editor usually starts with the query letter. She might like it and decide to assign you to the topic, or she might just decide that it is horrible and send it to the bin. Given their importance, writing queries can be scary.
Writing queries used to freak me out. I can’t say I am now in love with the process of querying, but at least they don’t scare or overwhelm me anymore. I realized that the hardest part of writing a good query, at least to me, is finding that awesome angle that will fit the magazine readers’ needs and wants correctly while managing to describe this angle in a compelling way in your query. Of course even if you think you got it right, there is the possibility that topic was recently snatched by another writer, and you were a little late.
The Query Is Only the Beginning
But let’s assume that you do know how to send the right kind of query, and let’s assume that you got the job. Congratulations, you’ve got one foot in the door. But now that you started a relationship, you need to work on maintaining a good one by delivering quality work on time, written, styled and formatted according to the parameters you discussed with the editor. And after you come through, sending a second query to that editor will be easier. The editor himself can even call you and ask if you want another assignment.
So you need to do your homework well, send the impeccable query, and listen to the editor.
So far, so obvious, right? I mean did you really need to be told to check your grammar or not attempt a query before knowing your way around the magazine, and its writer’s guidelines?
What Not To Do With and After The Query- Editors Unleashed
But apparently some writers do, otherwise Linda Formichelli’s Editors Unleashed would not have needed to cover so much ground with the editor pet peeves.
In this entertaining and informative e-book, she has talked to several editors about how some writers infuriate them during and after query.
But the beauty of this book isn’t that they only share writer “horror” stories, but also the good stories where the writer got and completed the assignment with grace and continued to work with the editor.
There are lots of resources on how to write successful queries, and Linda Formichelli’s free packet of 10 query letters that got her assignments is one of them. It can be obtained by subscribing to her free newsletter. Formichelli is a successful freelance writer and the co-author of the bestselling book The Renegade Writer. She blogs on The Renegade Writer.
Editors Unleashed used to cost $6.95, but now it is the second free gift for subscribing to The Renegade Writer. This ultra-useful book covers query dos and donts as well as what attitude editors expect from writer once the query lands them the job.
Reading this book will help you:
1) To get noticed by the editor and land that assignment
2) To build and maintain a good, on-going relationship with the editor
3) To build and maintain as a professional, reliable and easy-going writer
4) To laugh. Seriously, some writer behavior will make you laugh.
Some Editor Pet Peeves- Inspired by Editors Unleashed
– Queries with grammar mistakes and/or typos
– Queries that show that the writer has no idea about the magazine’s target audience
– Queries that are far too long or far too short
– Queries that are vague
– Generic queries that could be sent to any magazine and yet would appeal to none
– Queries that have the magazine’s and/or the editor’s name wrong
I’m sure there are more, but you get the point. While some of these are very obvious and takes a little effort on the writer’s part to get rid of them, getting the idea just right can be very tricky. To craft a query that is interesting, engaging and with a slant that hasn’t been done before is a challenge writers face all the time. But by paying attention to the tips in the book, we can transform a frustrating challenge into an activity that comes naturally to us. and getting more and better assignments as a result.
Editors, are your experiences with writers?
Writers, how are you managing the querying process I’d love to read your experiences, both positive and negative.
- Make a Living Writing – Carol Tice’s Blog
Carol Tice has posted one of her assignment winning queries.
The pros: You get to see how to craft a compelling query. And you get to see how you can pitch multipe ideas professionally in a single page query letter.
The con: Many magazines look down on multiple pitches, especially if you are not a yet established author, or you don’t have a relationship with that editor. Still, you can study and learn a lot from Carol’s sample.
Plus, she has a whole section of posts that feature “the tag” query letters. These posts might not be directly on query letters, but they do include valuable information on your relationships with editors.
- Query Letter Clinic – (Mini) E-Book
Writer’s Market is an online resource for writers where they can find info about magazine. In order to be able to access these markets, you need to be a member- which requires a fee. I am a member, so Query Letter Clinic was already on my dashboard. However I don’t remember if this e-book is available to non-members. You need to check.
- The Writer’s Digest Guide to Query Letters – E-book, Paperback
Writer’s Digest Guide to Query Letters has over 200 pages of information: it starts with the basics of a query, then gives you the specific elements of different query letters, such as: querying to an agent about your novel, non-fiction book, querying about your articles to magazines. It tells you how and when to follow up, where to look for the necessary information and understanding writer’s guidelines, managing your relationships with editors, and agents and so much more. Yes, it is a lot of information to digest, but it is worth it. It is a must-have query source for any writer.
- Aboutfreelancewriting.com – Anne Wayman
Anne Wayman has posted a good sample of a magazine query on her blog. She also explains which information is included where, and why. The rest of her blog is also full of useful and applicable tips for freelance writing and blogging.
- Writer’s Digest.com – the website
You don’t need to be Writer’s Digest magazine subscriber to access the vast content on their website. While having the magazine is also helpful, you can always read the articles on the web for free. I bookmarked 2 query letter articles I liked. While these articles were mostly written with the novel writer querying the agent/publisher in mind, you can easily adapt, and use the information for magazine article queries.
These articles are:
- 12 New Things Writers Must Do Today to Make Money – E-book
Wooden Horse Publishing’s Meg Weaver’s e-book Twelve New Things Writers Must Do Today to Make Money is not solely about query letters, but it teaches you more about understanding the magazine (understanding its target audience and slant, and voice) than any other book around. And trust me, I devoured more than my share of e-books and books, both free and unpaid, on the subject of magazine writing. And since you understand that particular magazine perfectly, your chances of writing a terrific query letter becomes much higher. But she doesn’t just leave you with the understanding of magazines. She teaches you how to create queries from scratch as well. Oh, she also goes on to give you information about what extras will go to the article (such as decks and photographs), how to arrange them and so on. At $14.95, it is really worth it.
*By the way, the link for this e-book is NOT an affiliate link.
- Power Queries – E-book
Filbertpublishing’s Beth Erickson has written a 20-page e-book on query letters called “Power Queries”, and it is a free gift to the website’s e-mail subscribers.
Here, Erickson talks about the many ways you can start your query letter, gives examples and explains the reasons why those examples might be attention-worthy. Seeing examples, and not just sentences about how-to-write-queries, makes it much easier for the writer to get the grasp.
She also gives you tips on what not to do as well, when it comes to voice, language and style. And don’t worry- she doesn’t stop with how to start a great query letter. She goes on to give tips on how to draft the rest of your query. Yes, these are powerful 20 pages!