Query Letter

Query Letter

There is a skill to writing a good query letter, and if you would like to make money writing from home or by article writing it’s one you definitely need to master.

What is a query letter?
A query letter is used when you want to present an article idea to a publisher, before you actually write the article. The purpose of writing a good query letter is to get the editor so interested in your idea for the article that they commission you to write it for their magazine, or at the very least that they express an interest in the finished product.

Advantages of writing a query letter
Many editors request queries over complete articles, and why not, there are definite advantages:
An outline of an article is quicker to read than a whole article.
If they like the idea of the proposed article but it’s not quite what they are after they can make suggestions to the writer on what exactly they would like.
A writer’s ability and skill can be quickly assessed.

The advantages to the writer are that a query letter is:
Quicker to write than an article.
Requires less research than an article.
If quotes are needed, interviews don’t need to be completed at this stage.
The outline of your article can be altered easily if the editor suggests a different angle.

How to go about writing a good query letter
When it comes to writing a good query letter you need to put yourself behind the editor’s desk for a while. What drives the decisions they make? The answer, of course, is sales of their magazine.
The public buy magazines because they expect them to contain the articles and information they want to read, and editors want to keep people buying so therefore they print the articles the readers want to read. Quite simple really, isn’t it?

You, as the writer, also need to know what articles sell the magazine because the best way to get your freelance articles published is to provide exactly what the editor wants (or needs) to publish. Knowing how to research a magazine topic is as vital to writing the perfect query letter as the words you put on the letter. Once you can do this successfully your chances of being publish jump dramatically.
What to include when writing a good query letter.
There are three main things to cover when writing a good query letter.
  • What you want to write an article on.
  • Why the readers will want to read it.
  • Why you should be the one to write the article.
Once again it all seems quite simple when put in those terms. The skill of course is how you write it.

Tips on writing a good query letter
Make your first sentence punchy and direct. This is where you need to get the editor’s attention, to hook them into your idea. Be succinct. Perhaps ask a question, make a bold statement, quote a statistic, approach your topic from an angle of interest to the magazine’s readers.

Keep your query letter to under a page, three or four paragraphs if possible.

Don’t waffle. Don’t mention that your Mum thinks it’s a great topic (don’t laugh some new writers do). Don’t mention things that aren’t entirely necessary.

Re-read your query letter, check and double check for typos and mistakes before sending it off. A query letter is the only clue an editor has to the quality of your work. This is your first impression, make it count.

Be professional, remember an editor’s time is precious and they would prefer to deal with a writer who can be commissioned to write an article and who will then send in the complete article on time, no questions, no queries, no typos.
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