Query Letter Guidelines
Heading: Business Style
You can put your center your name at the top of the page (like in a letterhead) or
in a paragraph to the right.
This should be followed by a space and the date which is left aligned (1-1.5”
margins). If you put your address in a paragraph to the right, place the date
directly under your address.
Next, provide the name and title of a specific editor. This should be followed by
the magazine title and address.
Salutation: Dear Mr. or Ms…..
Paragraph 1: Grab the editor’s attention
What better way to do this than a well written lead? Your lead will provide the
editor with a sample of your writing and involve him or her in your story.
Paragraph 2: Sell the Story Idea
Transition from the lead to a description of the story and how it fits the needs of
Include a focus statement, description of style, word count, and possible sources.
Persuade the editor that you know the magazine well and that your story will be
of interest to the readers.
Paragraph 3: Experience and background.
Got it? Flaunt it! Don't got it? Keep quiet.
While the lead takes care of selling your idea to the magazine, the second
section of your query letter deals with “selling yourself.” Remember that your
query letter should be persuasive. This section of your query letter should be a
chance to let your markets know what expertise, credentials, or awards you have in
the field of journalism. It is important that the market takes you seriously as a
freelance writer in order for them to even consider publishing your article. When
writing your letter, it would be a good idea to “withhold” the information
regarding the fact that you are a high school student. Instead, describe yourself as
an aspiring journalist (which all of you are for the time being) who is interested in
writing a freelance article for their publication.
Include writing samples that are appropriate to the publication, article topic, and
writing style you believe the publication is looking for.
Present any credentials or awards you have that show you are qualified to write,
especially about this subject.
Identify any sources you have that you feel would help persuade the editor.
It is important for this section of the query letter to show why you are the best and
only person to write this article for them.
WHAT NOT TO DO:
It’s important not to be egotistical in this
paragraph. Don't fall into the temptation of describing
your work as dazzling, dramatic, exciting, fast-paced, or
any other adjective. Say, ``My article is an account
of...." not "My article is a humorous account..." Stray
away from fancy adjectives! Never put yourself down in a
query letter. Don't “warn” them that this is your first
article. Also, don't say you hope they like it. Of course,
you do! That's understood. Keep it professional.
Thank the editor and mention enclosures (SASE and any clippings)
A formal salutation (Sincerely,) followed by your name. Leave space in between
for your signature.