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How to Write a Query Letter

Query Letters Are the Life-Blood for Freelance Writers

Writing a good query letter is a must-have skill for freelance writers. Queries are the way you sell or pitch a magazine editor with a specific idea in hopes of getting an assignment. Here are the steps:

1.   Read two or three issues of the magazine. Note their style, and the length of pieces.

2.   Read the masthead - it will tell you which editor to address and may offer guidelines.

3.   If the magazine has a website, check it for guidelines; if not, send an SASE asking for guidelines.

4.   Read the guidelines carefully, paying attention to any special instructions.

5.   Outline your article. This is just to help you get clear, it won't go in the query.

6.   Create a great title.

7.   Write the first 'graph of your article.

8.   Write a sentence or two on why the readers need and want your article.

9.   Write a sentence or two showing why you're the best person to write the article.

10.   Now, put together the query that sells your article, sells your unique approach, and sells you!

11.   State how many words your proposing and how long, after acceptance, they can expect the article.

12.   Mail with an SASE.

Additional Query Letter Tips

  1. When you're reading the magazine, think about what the editor wants for her readers.
  2. Pay attention to the ads. Advertisements are great indicators of audience.
  3. A good query is a single page. Once and a while it can be one-and-a-half. If you can't boil your idea into this length, it needs more work.
  4. The more queries you send, the more assignments you're likely to get.
  5. More and more magazines want queries by email - take advantage of this.



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