Don't Fall Into the Query Letter Quandary

Written by Shery Ma Belle Arrieta

Continued from page 1

3. Don't offer an article on spec.

4. Never apologize or give a lame reason for wanting to write your article.

5. Don't even think about querying by phone.

And If You're An Amateur, Don't Give Yourself Away! ---------------------------------------------------

If you've never been published before, Wood warns you shouldn't mention it in your query letter.

"You must never giverepparttar appearance that you are a beginner or an amateur," he says. "If you present yourself in a professional manner,repparttar 129557 editor can only assume you're a pro and will treat you like one.

"I have given many assignments overrepparttar 129558 years to writers who I thought were seasoned pros and then found out later that they were just starting out," he continues. "That's fine. But once you letrepparttar 129559 cat out ofrepparttar 129560 bag and make a slip ofrepparttar 129561 pen ('This is my first query to a magazine'), it's an automatic rejection. Few editors will knowingly work with beginners.

"If you have been published before, but only to small newsletters or church flyers or local newspapers, do not mention this or attach such clips," he adds.

The Query-able Stuff --------------------

You don't need to query every idea you think is publishable.

"The only articles that do not and should not require a query are humor, essays, poems, short fiction, and puzzles/games. These particular types of pieces are subjective and cannot be assigned; you simply have to write them and send them in," Wood says.

Shotgun Querying andrepparttar 129562 Waiting Game -------------------------------------

So, is it acceptable to send multiple queries onrepparttar 129563 same subject? Wood says yes.

"Shotgunrepparttar 129564 sucker to as many editors as you can. You'rerepparttar 129565 writer; you'rerepparttar 129566 one who has to pay your bills while waiting (sometimes for months) to hear back from each publication," Wood explains. "Editors are notorious for not replying at all--even if you include an SASE. The obvious exception would be an idea that is focused to a particular magazine; in that case you should only send it to that place. But that doesn't mean you couldn't rewrite it and refocusrepparttar 129567 same general idea to several different similar magazines and send them all out atrepparttar 129568 same time.

"One lesson I've learned: Do not mention that your query is a simultaneous submission," John advises. He once thought it was necessary until one editor got offended and rejected his query. That editor, according to Wood, only wanted articles "specifically tailored to my magazine."

"My idea was a unique travel idea that was certainly appropriate to his publication, but to many others as well," Wood explains.

After shotgunning your idea to as many editors as possible, it's time for you to wait it out.

"Wait about a month, then follow-up by e-mail," he advises. "Never phone unless you've worked withrepparttar 129569 editor before. If still no response, assume it's a reject and move on."

10 Specific Advice to Help You Get Your Query Letter Accepted (and Make You a Published Author Eventually) -------------------------------------------------------------

Wood sums it up:

1. Be professional. Make sure every letter is error-free, is addressed torepparttar 129570 right editor, and includes a SASE.

2. Be new. Offer a fresh idea and set it off with a centered, boldfaced head and subhead.

3. Be provocative. Pullrepparttar 129571 reader in with a stunning lead.

4. Be creative. Lay out your letter in a unique way and show your writing style. Don't write formally! Write repparttar 129572 way you talk, write in your own voice. You have only one chance to impressrepparttar 129573 editor. If you go down, go down in flames, baby.

5. Be focused. Narrow your story angle as much as you can. 6. Be customized. Slant your idea to each individual publication as much as you can.

7. Be multifaceted. Give each editor more than one reason to say yes: Offer more than one place for your article, more than one thing to peg it to, more than one way to structure it, and more than one element to accompany it.

8. Be realistic. Instill confidence that you're reliable and your project is doable.

9. Be qualified. Include appropriate clips, credits, and qualifications.

10. Be passionate. Show enthusiasm for your project.

Copyright 2001-2002 Shery Ma Belle Arrieta

In April/May 2000, Shery established The e-Writer's Place, a comprehensive site for writers of all ages & levels. This May, this multi-awarded Web site enters its third year on the Web. Visit for a 2-for-1 sale on e-books and special reports for writers.


Written by Bob McElwain

Continued from page 1

Your Perfect Customer Comes First - Hold your focus on this person. Everything you write is as closely targeted as possible on this person's needs, hopes and dreams. If you can sustain this interaction,repparttar rest is just mechanics.

Talk With, Not To - Telling people what to do never works. Whether selling or providing information, your only hope is to persuade readers to buy your product or accept your point of view. In short, always talk *with* your Perfect Customer. Never talk *to* them.

Forget About Maybes - A common mistake on many sites isrepparttar 129555 attempt to please all visitors. It won't work. Talk and sell to your Perfect Customer, and nobody else. That is, never include even a comment in hope of converting maybes.

Use "I," not "We" - If you're just one person, stick to yourself asrepparttar 129556 subject. There is something pretentious, kind of phony, about a fellow who is a one man show speaking of himself as "we." It's as if he is trying to appear bigger or more important than he is.

Believe In Your Product - If you do, if you enthusiastically endorse it, your excitement will shine through. Conversely, if you don't believe in it, ditch it. Only professionals can sell in this circumstance. Lack of enthusiasm of itself will destroy your copy.

Never Offend Or Annoy - Offending people is always a deadend street, a truism that hardly seems worth mention here. I did so in order to point out that accumulated annoyances amount to offending. Seek to eliminate any copy that might annoy anyone.

Avoid U.S. Jargon - The Web is rapidly becoming an International marketplace. However, many outsiderepparttar 129557 U.S. who read English, are reading in a second language. U.S. jargon and slang really confuse such visitors. Use dollars, not bucks. Use men, not guys. "Behindrepparttar 129558 wood shed" has no meaning for those outsiderepparttar 129559 U.S.

Be Specific - Your writing will be stronger if all is aimed at making a very specific point clear. Only when accomplished, is it time to move on to another. "Stainless steel is an exceptional material," says little. If this isrepparttar 129560 point you want to make, break it down into parts that collectively explain whyrepparttar 129561 generalization is so.

Write As Fiction - The better I come to knowrepparttar 129562 Web,repparttar 129563 more convinced I am ofrepparttar 129564 parallels between writing a good story and a good page. Pace matters. And emotional impact. And there's more. Grab a book you like, and try to figure howrepparttar 129565 author sucks you intorepparttar 129566 next paragraph or page. If you can dorepparttar 129567 same with a web page, you'll have a winner.

Editing Is The Secret - Edit and rewrite as often as required. Ask any good writer, and they'll tell you that some of what they release has been edited and rewritten a dozen or more times. Editing isrepparttar 129568 key, really. The final result may only vaguely resemblerepparttar 129569 original draft.

Get A Second Opinion - While there may be little need to hire a professional editor, do ask at least one other person to read what you have written. If possible, ask them to read it out loud to you. If nobody is handy, record your work, then listen to it. Hold off on this until you feelrepparttar 129570 work is ready to go. There's too much error in draft copy for this to work well.

Be Clear, Straightforward, And Friendly

Hold torepparttar 129571 above in all you write, be certain you are speaking one-to-one with your Perfect Customer, andrepparttar 129572 results, given editing, will be sufficient. As you gain experience, you can improve from "sufficient" to "good." "Great" isrepparttar 129573 goal, but it certainly is not required.

Bob McElwain, author of "Your Path To Success" and "Secrets To A Really Successful Website." For info, see Get ANSWERS. Subscribe to "STAT News" now!

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