Monday, October 27, 2008

How to get started freelancing, part six: how to write a query letter

At long last, I have gotten around to telling you how to write a query letter! Thank you for your patience. As I mentioned in my last post, the point of the query letter is basically to get the editor to give you a chance and read your piece. It is not hard to write a query letter, once you know how. Once you get it down, you can make kind of a template for yourself to write future ones. Just make sure you tailor it as much as possible to each recipient--editors like to feel special.

Here is a sample of a query letter I wrote that resulted in the editor requesting the article on spec. I'm removing any names so I don't like like too much of a doofus if he has a google alert. With my luck, he'll find it anyway and I'll still look like a doofus. What can I say...I'm a doofus, but I write pretty well so you should forgive me!

Here is an example of a query letter I sent recently. The editor bought the article, but I'm sure there's always room for improvement if anyone has a critique. In any case, I wanted to get a sample out here for those of you who don't know how to write one. I put some notes in brackets.

Hello Mr. [Editor's last name], [formal address to the correct person]

In the highly exacting sport of dressage, there are few riders who earn the elite honor of a USDF Gold Medal. Only a very small number of these riders earned their Gold Medal on an Arabian horse, and Patience Prine-Carr recently joined the ranks with multi-national champion OKW Entrigue +++//. [this is the hook]

Although this is a very impressive honor, few people in the Arabian horse industry truly understand just how rare and special the award is, if they have even heard of it. I would like to write an article that will educate your readers on what it takes to train a horse and rider to the Grand Prix level of dressage, and show that Arabian horses can do it! I expect the article to total between 1,000 and 1,500 words, and I can supply pictures and quotes from Patience. [why the need for this article and what I plan to do. anything you can add here to show why their magazine is the perfect fit would be good.]

I have been published in [magazine], [another magazine] and have a monthly feature in [yet another magazine]. I would be honored to be a part of [the magazine I'm querying] as well. I have writing samples available. [I can write, I swear! I can prove it! Some magazine submission guidelines will ask you to go ahead and send samples.]

If you would be interested in running this piece, my contact information is below. I look forward to hearing from you.

Jennifer Walker
[other contact info]

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