Query letters are the magic key to getting in print

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Gordon attacked by wooden bird

Gordon attacked by wooden bird

I just posted 11 things you should know about query letters if you want to put your articles in the magazines of your choice. Actually, to get your words on almost any editor’s pages in or in whatever medium.

It’s simple enough. I’ve been an editor several times and there was always a lot more folks wanting to be on my pages than space for them. I was the gatekeeper and I needed to know what they had to say that that my readers should hear that was also consistent with why the publication existed. (Mostly, it existed to sell products that its readers might buy, so the writer’s main task was not to scare them away with words that veered too far from the publication’s theme or from common sense.)

Then, if they suggested something sensible and appealing, I needed to see how they said it. Humor helped, scattered evenly like sugar on a roll. But I’d settle for three main points, examples, three quotes or so, and some point that would make the readers say, “Wow!” or “That’s interesting.” They had to organize that on one page of well written prose, spelled correctly, with any relevant credits mentioned, and their e-mail and phone number included. I also wanted a self-addressed, stamped envelope to return rejections.

There’s a lot more. Take a look at my newsletter on 10-15. It’s free and you can flee whenever you wish at the unsubscribe button!

I sold 1,700+ freelance articles and I can’t remember more than a dozen that didn’t involve querying. It’s like that free food at Costco: why would I buy 95% of it if it didn’t convince my taste buds first?

Gordon Burgett

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