Queries are not written like business letters or emails; they are specifically designed to sell your articles.
Every query should be:
- Written for the appropriate market
- A fresh idea
- Skilfully presented
- Written in a competent style, and
- A good example of the writer's research skills.
If your query starts with: ...Please find enclosed an idea that I hope you'll consider is suitable for your magazine...
What reaction do you think this will generate? Yes, a rejection slip. Why? Your letter was boring and didn't grab the editor's attention.
What I usually suggest to new writers is to write the article and then write the query. This has a twofold effect. First, you will know you can write the article, and second you can take information from the article to compile the query. When you become more experienced you can simply write the query and when it is accepted, write the whole article.
Here is a simple formula:
Dear (get the person's name right)
Great Headline (Title)
First paragraph is the hook to get the editor interested. There is no "warm-up" paragraph. In fact, this first paragraph could be the lead of your article. For example: When Adam White bought his first block of land in (name of town) almost ten years ago, he had no idea his investment portfolio would reach nearly $2 million.
The second paragraph should include some good facts and figures.
Third paragraph confirm that the person is willing to share his strategies for wealth.
Fourth paragraph lets the editor know you can provide some excellent photographs.
Fifth paragraph state when you can have the article ready and the word count plus number of images. If you have special qualifications in the subject/topic, let the editor know plus your experience.
Please don't finish your query with... Thank you for your consideration. Just get in and give the editor a great idea and then get out.
Make sure all your contact details are on the top of the letter. If you are sending the query by email you can still use this formula, but your details could appear at the bottom of your email.
Sell the editor with the first paragraph of the query and he/she will commission you and offer a good rate of pay.
Barb Clews is an award winning journalist with nearly 1,000 published articles to her credit. She has been a writer and editor for 15 years and is the author of "Article Writing for Freelancers" and "20 Tips to Increase Writing Skills" Visit http://www.bcabooks.com/ to subscribe to "Words that Work", Barb's monthly ezine packed with tips for writers.