Saturday, August 15, 2009

Dear Kerrie: What is a Query Letter?

Dear Kerrie,

I want to write for magazines and someone told me I need to send a query first, not a complete article. What is a query?

A query is basically a one to two page sales pitch to an editor. The letter gets the editor interested in the article, explains what will be in the article, shares why you are the perfect person to write it and give the editor a taste of your writing style.

Editors are busy people, so they don't have time to read an inbox full of articles. The query letter helps streamline the process and also gives the editor an opportunity to suggest a different angle or word count before you begin writing the actual article.

A query also saves you, the writer some time. You can do some initial research, make connections and flesh out our idea. Then once the assignment is made, you can then put in the needed time to write a fabulous article.

The format of a query letter is pretty simple.

Salutation: Dear _________ (be sure to find out the name of the correct editor to send the query to. Don't just put Dear Editor.

paragraph 1: Your hook or lead. Get the editor interested in your idea with an interesting opening about your article

paragraph 2: Body. What is your article about? Do you have any facts? What are your key points.

paragraph 3: Offering. What are you offering and how will it effect the readers? "I am proposing a 1,000 word article highlighting the health benefits of dark chocolate. This article will educate your readers and show them that dark chocolate can be a valuable component of a healthy diet. "

paragraph 4: Your Qualifications. What makes you the perfect person to write this article? Do you have any published clips (copy of published articles)? Do you have personal experience with this topic? Does your degree make you an expert? Even if you don't have any clips, you can show why you are the person to write this article.

Closing: A call to action, "I look forward to hearing from you soon." "Would you like me to send you the article?"

Signature: Sign your name.

*Make sure you to include your contact information in the query.

Do your research and put the time into writing an outstanding query letter. A good query letter is the difference between and acceptance letter and a rejection letter.

Happy querying!

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