Freelance Writer Dotted I’s and Crossed T’s: Query Letter Still Needs Work

I, the freelance writer, was thrilled to hear from the editor at a consumer magazine I recently queried. Unfortunately, he wasn’t interested in general interest stories, unless, of course, it’s an angle that hasn’t been covered over and over again. He also rarely accepts unsolicited queries. Needless to say, I was extremely disappointed. I reviewed ALL of the information that was posted on Writer’s Market before I submitted my query. According to Writer’s Market, “the publication needs expose; general interest and new product articles.” This wasn’t entirely true.

Before I submit a query, I review a publication’s website along with current and back issues (where available). I didn’t see an article with my angle on the website. However, the editor informed me that the angle I pitched was already covered in the ‘hard copy’ of the publication. I would have known this if I went to the library and read back issues of the magazine. Lesson learned.

I subscribed to Writer’s Market because I want to grow my portfolio, especially in the area of consumers’ magazines. I have many article ideas that I’m passionate about and would benefit readers. The listings on Writer’s Market make it easy for freelance writers to find publications to query. However, freelance writers shouldn’t assume the information is 100% accurate. It pays to dig deeper to ensure you know exactly the types of stories an editor needs and wants.

Steps freelance writers can do before querying publications

1. Read current and back issues of a publication in addition to reviewing their website. Make sure your angle is totally unique and can’t be found in another publication or on their website.

2. If you subscribe to Writer’s Market or some other writer’s publication, don’t take the information at face value. Dig a little deeper to find out exactly what an editor wants. As I discovered, the information about a publication and what an editor wants may be out-of-date.

3. Read, edit and revise your query letter. Read your query letter out loud to make sure it sounds coherent. Correct grammar and punctuation. Also, ask yourself the following questions:

  • How unique is my angle? What can I do to ‘tweak’ the angle and make it more unique?
  • Will the publication’s target audience be interested in my article?
  • What do I have to offer the readers of the publication?
  • Where can I find experts for my article?
  • *Do you have the correct spelling of the editor’s name?

*Note: Writer’s Market provided an email address for the editor of the publication I queried; the editor’s name was not included. I performed a Google search to locate the editor’s name. Always find out the correct spelling of an editor’s name.

4. Do you need to send a CV/resume and clips to accompany your query letter? The information on Writer’s Market did not state that a writer must send a CV/resume and clips to the publication I queried. When in doubt, find and read the writer’s guidelines. If they’re not listed on the website, send an email to the editor and or assistant editor and request them.

As I said in the beginning, I’m thrilled to have heard from the editor of the publication I queried. All is not lost because I have the opportunity to submit another angle (stronger) along with my CV/resume and clips. Whew!

Freelance writers; learn all you can about pitching and querying editors. While Writer’s Market and other publications for writers are fantastic ways to get your name out there, don’t take the information at face value. Do your own research before you email or send your query via snail mail.

Good luck!

Amandah

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2 thoughts on “Freelance Writer Dotted I’s and Crossed T’s: Query Letter Still Needs Work

  1. Pingback: Do’S and Don’Ts of Selling Tips | Great Mentor

  2. Pingback: What Advice Do You Wish You Received before Becoming a Freelance Writer? | Savvy Writing Careers

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