1C Query Letters.doc by ryandenney


									                    How to Make a Great First Impression
                         General Guidelines for Writing a Query Letter
 Queries tell an editor about the article, sidebar, or filler you want to write and it explains why
                               you are the one who should write it.
Step 1  Identify a magazine’s submission policy by ordering Writer’s Guidelines from
the magazine (and 3 sample copies) or look through the Writer’s Market book. 

Random examples from the Writer’s Market Guide:

            “Query with strong, colorful lead; clips.”
              “Accepts queries by mail, e-mail, fax.”
              “Submit full-text articles with query letter.”
              “Material will not be returned unless accompanied by SASE with sufficient postage. 
              No queries.  May hold material being seriously considered for up to 1 year.”
*If the magazine wants to see a sample of your writing when submitting a query, then send the
actual manuscript as your sample.
Step 2  Write a query that sells editors on your story idea and on you.
Basic Formatting: (from Writer’s Market 2004)
Use a standard font or typeface
Follow business letter format with name and address (include phone number, fax and e-mail).
Use 1 inch margins on all sides
Address query to a specific editor (call to verify current staff) if e-mailing mention that it’s a
query letter in the subject line.
Keep it to one page
Include a SASE (Self Addressed Stamped Envelope) and state this inclusion in the letter
Do not indent
Single space the body of the letter and double-space between paragraphs
Mention you can send the manuscript on disk or via-email
Thank the editor for considering your proposal

Include three basic parts:  the lead, summary, and author’s biography.

Lead:  The lead is the first sentence or paragraph that grabs the editor’s attention.  It will also
include your topic and slant.  You must entice the reader to continue reading your letter.
There are several types of leads you can use.  You must decide which lead makes your article
idea shine the brightest. (See attachment Types of Leads borrowed from Cindy Coloma)
Summary:  (from How To Write Irresistible Query Letters by Lisa Collier Cool)
“Your summary should be deliciously succinct, yet filled with appetizing bits of information. 
Sprinkle it with some persuasive sales points, and you’ll have a recipe for writing sales.”
Possible elements:
Statement of Purpose:  Subject and slant must be stated clearly either here or in the lead.
Bullet Outline:  Explain how you plan to cover the topic.  Chose three to six topics you plan to
describe and provide a few sentences for each.
Facts and Figures:  site relevant facts or statistics to support your topic.  Don’t add too much
data- just enough to prove your point.
Sources:  If relevant, list sources/experts you plan on interviewing.  This will help you
establish credit with editors if you’re an unknown writer.
Nuts and Bolts:  Include word count, audience, and why they need your article.
Relevance to reader:
Timing Tie-Ins:  Note any special holiday connections; identify if an idea is connected to the
release of an upcoming movie or book, or if there is a connection to current news topics.
Extras:  If you have a sidebar, quiz, or box items (such as phone numbers/addresses of people
who are involved in the article topic) let the editor know.

Author’s Biography:  Make a strong impression to the editor by highlighting yourself  as a
professional writer and/or expert.
Include any information that may be relevant from your work experience.  Does your job
involve writing a newsletter, or press releases, or technical material?  Do you work a high-
status job such as a medical doctor, lawyer, or college professor? 
If you have a degree connected to the field you want to write about, include this information.  A
degree above a B.A. or B.S. is worth mentioning, even if not connected to your article topic. 
Do not include writing courses you’ve taken.  If you’ve spoken on the topic in workshops or at
other venues, include this if relevant.
If you’ve had life experiences that are relevant to the article topic, this gives you first-hand
experience and it should be shared with the editor.  Listing friends and family members who
have relevant experience (that you plan to use) can be beneficial as well.
Hobbies can be relevant.  Lisa Collier Cool tells how one client found success with no formal
study on his topic.  “As an enthusiastic amateur, one of my clients was able to sell his book on
home computers despite his lack of either computer-related jobs or writing experience of any
sort.  Instead, his bio described how he built a computer from scratch, collected dozens of
computer magazines and books, and attended computer shows all over the country.”
Writing Credits:  Include magazine articles, newsletters, newspaper articles, and books you’ve
written or co-authored.
Step 3 Look over the query to make sure it is ready for “send off!”
Closing:  Finish the letter with a short and simple closing.
“Thank you for your consideration.  I look forward to hearing from you.”
“I look forward to your reply.”
Polish.  Polish. Polish- Let the query set a day or two, then re-read it looking for unclear
sentences or incomplete thoughts, spelling mistakes, punctuation errors, etc.
Tighten the writing.  If you can’t summarize your idea in one page, you might not have a grasp
of what the article/story is really about.
Keep a record of everything you send out and anything that is accepted and published.
 Kimerly Williams Shaw

December 13, 1999

Elizabeth Crooker Carpentiere
Cobblestone Publishing
30 Grove Street
Peterborough, NH 03458

Dear Ms. Crooker Carpentiere,

        Like most 13-year-olds, Richard spends his days attending school, playing with his
friends, watching TV, and keeping up on the latest trends. But a closer look reveals more about
the 4.0 student. Although Richard was born in America, he has a history found in a far away
land. Both of his parents were born and raised in the country of Laos before moving to the
United States. Therefore, Richard speaks two languages fluently: English and Lao. He attends
church where only his parents’ native tongue is spoken and he enjoys many foods and
traditions carried over from a country he has never seen.

         Richard’s dad, Sou Nyan Saechao, remained in Laos until he was 14. What do you
think life was like for Sou living in this Southeast Asian country? Do you think it is similar to
Richard’s life today? Listen as Sou tells his son what it was like growing up in Laos.

       The above two paragraphs are meant to give you an idea about how I would like to
pursue an 800-word article titled “Like Father, Like Son?” The purpose of the article is to
expose your readers to life in Laos through the eyes of a young boy. I want them to
compare their lives with the life of Sou. This comparison will aid in their understanding of
what life is like in this distant country. The Saechao family has agreed to let me tell their story.
Upon your approval, I will interview father and son, collecting exact information. (Richard
was a student of mine two years ago.)

        My work has been published in Faces (Sept. 99), Home Life, and BRIO. I also have a
children’s picture book scheduled for publication in the fall of 2000. I have my B.A. in the field
of Liberal Studies along with my teaching credential. I have worked in the field of education for
more than seven years.

        I look forward to hearing from you.


Kimberly Shaw

 KimberlyWilliams Shaw
November 7, 2002

Susie Shellenberger, Editor
Focus on the Family
8605 Explorer Drive
Colorado Springs, CO 80920

Dear Ms. Shellenberger

“You eat with your mouth open!”

I’ll never forget those six words spoken by a caring friend. The horror of it all! I was a young
adult when I was confronted with this embarrassing truth. I wish someone had told me sooner.
I easily pointed out the “faux pas” of others, but rarely did I look at my own misuse or lack of

That day changed my life. I could have avoided years of “see food” if only I had known.
That’s what my 900-word article “Manner Reminders” is about. It’s about clarifying and
reminding BRIO girls of necessary manners. If I can help one young girl avoid those horrible
six words, or words like them, I’ve done my job!

I’ve included a 10-question introductory quiz so BRIO girls can discover where they rate on
their knowledge of manners.

I have worked in the field of education for over seven years. For four of the seven years, I was
an elementary teacher. Now I am a full time writer. My work has been published in Home Life,
Faces, and a children’s educational magazine, and I currently have a children’s picture book
being published.

I look forward to your response.


                                   Types of Leads

1.     Anecdote Lead:
       “I plastered a smile on my face and thanked my neighbor. Watching her walk
       away, I sarcastically muttered to myself, “Welcome home, Debbie….”

2.     Startling Statement Lead:
       If someone had told me my first child would have two heads, I would have
       thought the person crazy. But twins come that way, and the results place
       heaven’s guardian angel division on standby alert.”

3.     Pun or Play on Words Lead:
       “Neither rain nor sleet nor snow will keep the mailman from getting through, and
       that makes him one of the most valuable helpers I have as a Sunday School

4.     Descriptive Lead:
       “The halting pace of the silver-haired woman with her walker was just about right
       for the crippled young man. As they moved along the pathway, she said….”

5.     Suspense Lead: (Note that if possible, a little suspense should be worked into every
       “The sign cinched it…I wasn’t going to take a pie to the new neighbors I didn’t
       know what the posted, wooden sign at the bottom of their driveway meant, and
       I was too scared to find out.”

6.     Question Lead:
       “What was I doing running down our church parking lot, chasing strangers? I
       didn’t even have something important to say….”

7.     Quote Lead:
       “’No no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no yes.’ That’s the way Tom
      Jackson, co-author of The Hidden Job Market, describes the job hunt today.”

8.    Thematic Lead:
      “Wildflowers that are beginning to bloom in the countryside around us are more
      than just colorful harbingers of spring….”

9.    Currently Relevant Lead:
      “For many families, Easter is little more than new clothes, a crowded Sunday
      service and a ham dinner. This year make Easter more meaningful….”

10.   Action Lead:

11.   Personal Involvement Lead:


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