Don't Fall Into the Query Letter Quandary

Written by Shery Ma Belle Arrieta

He wroterepparttar book on how to write killer query letters. In this interview, author John Wood shares his knowledge based on 17 years of working as an editor. More than 30,000 query letters have landed on his desk. Wood lets us in onrepparttar 129557 things that make or break query letters, and how you,repparttar 129558 writer, can get past repparttar 129559 editor's desk and be published.

A Query Letter That Stands Out ------------------------------

Because most queries look and readrepparttar 129560 same, your query letter must stand out.

"Devise a scintillating title and subtitle for your idea inrepparttar 129561 style ofrepparttar 129562 magazine you're pitching," says Wood. "Center it and boldface it right up front after your initial introductory paragraph. Use bullets, numbered lists, indented paragraphs, italics or even boxes to set off important elements. Don't go overboard, but do something to make your letter stand out from repparttar 129563 pack.

"My former editor demanded that I do this whenever I proposed an idea to him because with a head and deck atrepparttar 129564 top ofrepparttar 129565 page, he could envision instantly what it would look like inrepparttar 129566 magazine," Wood explains. "I have used this technique ever since when approaching editors and agents, and have been told by more than one agent that my queries wererepparttar 129567 best they have ever seen."

Your query letter should be no more than a page or a page and a half, and should contain a brief introduction as to why you're writing that specific magazine. Mention your expertise or interest in your proposed topic, and include one or two ideas, presented in decks and heads. In your closing paragraph, briefly mention who you are, your publication credits and how you can be reached.

Include one or two clips of your writing, but only if your clips are similar to your proposed topic. There's no point in sending a cooking article clip if you're querying a travel article!

Most Common and Crucial Mistakes Writers Make When Writing and Submitting Queries ---------------------------------------------

"Of allrepparttar 129568 ones that I rejected, I found thatrepparttar 129569 writers were makingrepparttar 129570 same simple mistakes or omissions," Wood reveals. "Unfortunately, reject letters never tell you what you did wrong, so most writers just continue to makerepparttar 129571 same mistakes."

According to Wood, there are 4 common mistakes writers commit when writing and submitting query letters:

Mistake # 1. Sending your query torepparttar 129572 wrong editor

"This is crucial," says Wood. "Callrepparttar 129573 magazine, ask for 'Editorial,' and ask which editor handlesrepparttar 129574 subject you're submitting.

"If you're sending a query for a health article, ask which editor handles health features. If you're sending a pitch forrepparttar 129575 New Products department, ask which editor overseesrepparttar 129576 New Products department, and so on," he advises. "Ifrepparttar 129577 receptionist gives yourepparttar 129578 editor-in-chief's name or says, 'Just send it in,' do not accept this. Demand a specific name for your specific topic. If she can't or won't, ask to speak to her supervisor."

When Wood was editor, writers who took their time to do their homework, learn that he wasrepparttar 129579 right editor for their proposed story and then approach him directly by query letter always got top priority.

"Unfortunately, less than 5-10 percent of all submissions arrive to me--or any editor--that way. Writers who act in this manner earn my respect and I will assume they are professionals and treat them accordingly," Wood says.

And those who don't? Their queries don't garner much interest and go straight torepparttar 129580 slush pile.

Mistake # 2. Failing to narrow your story angle

"Don't send a query about horseback riding," Wood warns. "Send one about horseback riding for blind black women lesbians along repparttar 129581 Malibu coast during Kwanzaa. I'm exaggerating, but I guarantee you that a query likerepparttar 129582 first example will go nowhere; one focused torepparttar 129583 degree ofrepparttar 129584 second example will find a market somewhere."

Mistake # 3. Not studyingrepparttar 129585 magazine thoroughly before querying

Take time to know what a magazine wants and doesn't want. Know its readers and stylerepparttar 129586 articles are written in. Do these things and you will be able to write a query letter that will catch any editor's eye.

Mistake # 4. Forgetting to include a self-addressed stamped envelope or SASE withrepparttar 129587 query

5 Things You Should Never Do When Writing A Query Letter --------------------------------------------------------

1. Don't be presumptuous. Avoid even an appearance of cockiness or arrogance.

2. Don't be sketchy. Outline your idea in sufficient depth to giverepparttar 129588 editor a clear picture of your idea and what you intend to do.


Written by Bob McElwain

Here's a hard truth. If you can't write, don't try. Dorepparttar research. Provide every tiny detail. But hire a professional to write your pages.

This costs. But not as much as poorly written copy. Face it. How long do you linger on a badly written site? It simply won't work. Period. Hirerepparttar 129555 help you need or find another line of work.

It's Not Fair

Surfers become more demanding with each passing day. They simply won't tolerate errors on web pages. You can get by with one or maybe even two on an occasional page, but only ifrepparttar 129556 balance is flawless.

At first glance, this seems unfair. Most do not write well. How can such people demand that you do so?

Simple. They do know how to read. And they demand copy that is easy to follow. An error brings a stumble and annoyance. Much of either brings hasty exit.

Your visitors are, after all, volunteering their time to look at your site. Beyond a hasty glimpse at art work, unless it offends, their focus is onrepparttar 129557 content.

That's what they came for. And that's what they want. You will be judged, and quickly, by how well you provide what they are looking for. Andrepparttar 129558 copy simply must shine. People won't linger long unless it does.

Bad Examples Give You An Edge

The abundance of poorly written sites offers opportunity. Put your site together in solid fashion, and you can put a lot of your competition out ofrepparttar 129559 running.

One ofrepparttar 129560 problems onrepparttar 129561 Web is that most pages are self-published. There are no editors protecting against blunders as there are inrepparttar 129562 print media.

As a result, sloppy or bad copy abounds. And if pointed out torepparttar 129563 webmaster,repparttar 129564 response is likely to be, "Hey. I wrote this. And I worked hard. If you don't like it, go away."

The point missed in comments such asrepparttar 129565 above, is that visitors do go away. In great big bunches. They flee from patronizing or self-congratulatory drivel even more quickly.

It's a grave mistake to look at such sites, and assume you can be successful with such copy. Further, there's a hidden assumption you accept when you do so. You accept as fact thatrepparttar 129566 webmaster is "successful." Bad thinking, to put it mildly.

What's Required

You don't have to get fancy. Some who recognize their writing skills are not first rate, tend to become formal, even pedantic, when writing. That is, they put onrepparttar 129567 "top hat and tails." Which is exactlyrepparttar 129568 opposite of what is required. For only great writers can pull such stunts.

You know your Perfect Customer. So just think about what you want to say, and how you would say it to him or her. In your shop. Overrepparttar 129569 phone. Wherever. But just you and your customer. Nobody else.

Chances are you'd chat as you do daily with others. Dorepparttar 129570 same in writing. If this doesn't work, say it out loud into a tape recorder. Then type what you recorded.

In speaking, we use a lot of incomplete sentences. And we have body language reflecting back at us that points out right quick anything not clear,repparttar 129571 misuse of a word, and so forth. But beyond cleaning up these kinds of things, write as you would speak to your Perfect Customer face to face.

To do otherwise, as in pretending to be profound, is to risk all.

Some Writing Tips

Here are some ideas often overlooked. Each notion can be greatly expanded. However, it is not appropriate to do so here. If you'd like more information about writing forrepparttar 129572 Web, visit my site and click Topics inrepparttar 129573 navigation bar torepparttar 129574 left. Then select Writing Skills. You'll find lots of good ideas and references here that may offer just what you need. Now to those tips, ...

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