Query Letters Made Simple – Writing query letters to magazines is a bit like cold-calling. You put in a lot of effort to study the magazines and modify your writing style to suit them, but in the end, all you get is just one discouraging sentence, “Thanks for your letter, but we don’t think it is suitable for us.” While there is no way to guarantee that your article will be accepted, there is a simple way to increase your chance.
If you have been writing in your free time, no matter if it is poetry, short stories, or self-help articles, then you’ll eventually come to the point where you want to submit your compositions to magazines or newspapers. However, this can be a very daunting process because there are so many publications to choose from, and most of them are already receiving submissions from writers who are more experienced than you.
Nevertheless, querying for your articles is a bit like cold-calling. You know you will get rejected a lot, but if it really meets an editor who likes you, then you’ll eventually get what you want. Having written a book and countless articles on the Internet, I have also written numerous query letters to different publications, and I discovered that writing query letters is a very simple process. Here are the three simple steps that can help you to produce a good query letter in a very short time.
Step 1: Write a Strong Lead-in
Grab the attention of the editor by a short introduction about the article. Here is an actual query letter which was written by me. It began like this:
“Imagine you are working a busy job for an average salary, but one day, you suddenly discover an idea that, while still doing the same job, you can triple your income with just a little extra work. Can you picture how exciting that is?”
The best way to begin is to start with a vivid picture or situation that the readers can associate with. Common sense tells you that most people do not want their jobs, and they all want to earn more by doing less.
“It is really possible – but it is also illegal. An employee of a famous bank who had been working in a boring back-office job suddenly came up with a ‘brilliant idea’ – selling confidential information for money. It worked, and it tripled his income.”
Immediately link the opening to your story. Get to the point quickly, or the editor will stop reading.
Step 2: Summarize Your Story in A Few Paragraphs
“Pete (alias) worked in a department where he had access to information of many high net-worth clients. Better yet, he knew that many of them had recent interest in investing their money. He secretly offered to sell those names to financial salespeople. It worked, and it earned him a lot of money.”
Firstly, summarize the whole story in one simple paragraph. The editor can decide whether it is their cup of tea.
“Contacts of rich people are very valuable to financial salespeople. The only problem is to devise a method so that the whole process can go undetected by police,” said Pete. “Fortunately, I have a perfect plan to make it work.”
Use actual quotes whenever possible. It makes the story look more realistic and factual.
“This was what he told me when he approached me to sell his data, as I am also a salesperson in the financial industry. I didn’t buy his data, but I did have the chance to understand how his system worked.”
“Pete was indeed a genius in technology and laws. No, he didn’t invent any magical system to smuggle data out of the bank. He simply understood how the police’s cyber crime unit works, how evidence is collected, and how prosecutions are made. By exploiting the loopholes in the system, he can freely sell inside data with a minimal chance of getting caught.”
Go on to say why your story is so special. It is not news that your private data are actually being sold secretly, but it is not common to see how it actually works with an insider.
Step 3: Make the Proposition and Talk about Yourself
“I propose a 2,000 word article for your ‘Money’ section, in which I will explain how insecure your private data are, even in big corporations.”
It is very important to suggest the appropriate section to post your article because it shows that you’ve read the magazine yourself.
“I am an experienced salesperson who has been in the field of finance for over 10 years. I am also a writer. My book, The Art of Influencing Anyone, is one of the most popular guides for salespeople.”
Don’t hesitate to brag about your experience in writing if you have. If you haven’t, try to emphasize your experience in the industry. Without proper credentials, the editor can hardly be convinced to trust the content of your article.
To learn more tips on how to convince people, please get a copy of my book, the Art of Influencing Anyone.
Copyright © 2014 Niall Cassidy
All rights Reserved.