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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
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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