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Hook, Line and Tinker
by Deborah Clark

Writers who are serious about marketing and selling their work are like the dedicated fishing enthusiast. Both research the subject, find the best spot to place the lure and cast repeatedly until they are successful.

The writers' tools are good ideas, research into the markets for the subjects and query letters. A strong query will lure the editor into looking at the proposed article. A well constructed letter will help the editor determine whether the writer has the level of skill and depth of experience that the publication needs. But how to catch an editor's attention?

First, you need a hook. The hook is an attention grabbing first paragraph. It can be an anecdote or an unusual fact or comment. The writer must give an editor a reason to read further. An unusual slant on a relevant but frequently used topic is more likely to generate editorial interest.

Once the writer has the hook, like a good fisher, the line must be played out. For a writer, this means describing the particulars of the article, its slant, its length, and any resources or experts to be used. This second paragraph is factual in nature. State the title of the article and its approximate word count. If the article is to appear in a certain section, do some research and make sure the word count is slightly below the maximum. If there is a range in the word count, aim for the middle of the range. These techniques allow for a slight word overrun, which is much easier than cutting out the overage.

The third paragraph reflects the process of reeling in the line. Give qualifications, background and interest in the topic. State any publication credits, even if they are outside the area queried. This tells the editor other publications are interested in your work.

The closing paragraph is where the writer can tinker to custom tailor the proposal. Notice of enclosures such as a self-addressed stamped envelope(SASE), tearsheets, and a resume (if requested) should be included here as well as closing remarks. If there are publication credits in the area or genre or other articles similar in length, be sure to include these. By tinkering with the submission of work already published, writers can show they are able to produce in either the area or length the editor requires.

Once writers show they have a great idea and can back it up with details and qualifications, they will have an editor interested; hook, line and tinker.

© Copyright 1997, Deborah Clark

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