This is a quick note to tell you exciting news. I have another article up—this one is in an LA print magazine called Working World. It’s a two-page feature on “How to Avoid Online Job Scams.” When the link appears on their website, I’ll add it to the blog, but for now you’ll have to pick it up here in LA.
I found this opportunity through, yes, a query letter. For those not in the know, a query letter is a quick missive (usually an email these days) to an editor pitching an article, screenplay, or book proposal.
Many writers I talk to deride the query letter as last century. They say nowadays editors only read tweets, find friends through Facebook, or use established writers. But I disagree, and I have proof. Editors are always on the lookout for new writers. You don’t have to be a friend, you don’t have to be connected at all (though it helps) to make it over the transom. You just have to write.
Before writing a query letter, find out what the publication is looking for. You can find listings of editors seeking freelancers online at mediabistro.com or in a newer version of Writer’s Market. Be realistic; Time probably want news journalism, Poetry may take your haikus. Never vice versa. Trust me.
The best query letters are short. They are well-formatted, too. For example if it is an email, do not add too many fonts or colors. In terms of tone, they are actionable, enthusiastic, and polite. Provide some background in the first few sentences and then quickly let the editor know what you want to write. I never propose ideas I am not very excited to write about. I also provide links to my past articles in my queries. Then I sign off. Remember, short is good. You can work out details later. For now, it is best to send…and wait.
Sometimes this wait takes days and sometimes months. More often than not, there is no response. That’s normal, too. You can always send a follow-up, but sometimes it is like staring into an abyss. But write enough query letters and you are bound to hear from someone. Trust me. I didn’t believe in the query letter either.
What is your experience with the dreaded query letter? I would like to know in the comments.