The Three-Step Query Letter

A query letter is a sales pitch to an editor. It’s a way of getting your foot in the door. Never be afraid to write to an editor – they are people, with good and bad days. I have found wonderful editors to work with, and you can too.

The aim of the query letter is to try to sell your idea and yourself as the best person to write it. It is an important tool. Before you write it, ask yourself what is the focus of the article. Then address it to a specific editor by name. Your letter should be straightforward and interesting, maximum one page.

STEP I: Write the introduction. The first sentence must be powerful – it can come from your article. Include examples, anecdotes, statistics and quotes from experts (using names).

STEP 2: The Middle. Now you have the editor’s attention, provide information.Tell what you plan to do. Is your piece personal experience, factual, how-to or an interview? Indicate the word count and if photos are available.

STEP 3: Sell yourself. Tell why you are the best person to write it. Give relevant experience, background and/or education. The last sentence should leave the editor in the driver’s seat: “I look forward to your reply”. If not by e-mail, enclose a self-addressed stamped envelope for reply. This courtesy is appreciated and should guarantee a reply. If a month goes by, write a follow-up letter indicating that if they are not interested, you want to offer the idea elsewhere. You can do simultaneous querying, but I prefer to wait for an answer before seeking a different market.

Follow the above 3 steps and watch the acceptances roll in!

If you need my help in any writing problems, contact me at the address in Books or About Me and I will be happy to assist.


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