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How to Write an Email Query

Email Queries Can Be Effective Selling Your Writing

An email query is often successful for freelance writers and many editors are willing to receive them. Like any marketing tool, however, there are some things you need to know:

1.   You’ve got to know if the editor or magazine accepts queries by email. Writers Market and other market listings often include this information; if not, pick up the phone and ask.

2.   Your e-query has a better chance if it’s sent to a particular editor rather than a generic email address. Don’t hesitate to call and ask for an editor’s email address.

3.   Like a snail-mail query, the purpose of your e-query is to show the editor you know your stuff. So everything that makes a query letter work, works with an e-query.

4.   In general, do NOT send attachments with your e-query. Many offices simply delete them to avoid virus problems.

5.   Your subject line is key. Make it clear this email is a query and if you have a great title, use it, like this: Query – 10 Ways to Find Great Child Care

6.   If you have an editors personal email address, you can skip the Dear Ms. Smith—just open with your strong selling first paragraph, preferably the first ‘graph of the proposed article.

7.   If you know their name but have only a generic email address, use Dear Ms. Smith to make sure it gets to the right person.

8.   Shorter is better than longer with an e-query. It does, however, need to be long enough to show why the article will work for the editor’s readers and why you should write it.

9.   Direct them to samples of your writing on your web site. You do have a web site, don’t you?

10.   Include your phone number as well as your snail-mail address—you want the editor to be able to contact you the way she wants to contact you.

11.   Double-check your spelling.

12.   Save a copy of each e-query on your computer.

13.   Be patient; if you’ve heard nothing in two or three weeks email a brief, polite follow-up.

More tips about writing an email query

  1. Since you don’t know what email program the editor is using, don’t indent and keep your line length at 80 characters or less—this will keep your e-query looking neat.
  2. Send your e-query to yourself first to get a reasonably good idea of how it will look.
  3. Avoid any special formatting like bold—you simply don’t know what it will look like on the other end.
  4. Never, ever use html. Again, you don’t know if the editor’s email can handle html and even if it can, you’ll look like an amateur.



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