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Queries On The Quick
by Carolyn Campbell

Here’s a formula that helps make the words "query" and "quick" go together. This method has sold 600 nationally published articles and cuts your query letter writing time to half an hour per letter.


Write the actual first paragraph of your article. Make it a traditional lead paragraph that will draw the editor in and make him want to read the entire article. Help the editor envision your work as a finished article by crafting this paragraph as professionally as possible. Make it colorful, engaging and interesting. If you need to interview an expert or person who is the subject of your article for factual information, call and ask for a ten-minute interview, saying that you will call again if the article is accepted. You do not need to write any more of the actual article unless you receive the assignment.


This paragraph tells why the article should be written, and which readers will be interested in reading it. For a medical article, it might say, "50 million women will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year." or "Increasing numbers of people suffer from latex allergy." Besides telling how many readers might be interested, it could also relate why a particular topic is timely, possibly because it relates to a news event or current trend. Alternately, this section could describe why the article topic is unique and deserves publicity. If it is a profile of an individual, it could include one or more sentences relating why this person is noteworthy and famous–or unique and undiscovered.

This section can also include reasons why an article fits a particular publication. Use a sentence such as, "I believe this article will be right on target for Redbook’s 38 million women readers who are under 40." If you know a specific section of the magazine that your article will fit, mention it here. Include a possible title to further help the editor envision your idea as a finished article. "I feel this article, possibly titled, "River Rescue" would be an excellent story for the "Real Life Drama" section of Woman’s World. When creating this paragraph, think of the query letter as a mini-article, including as many elements of the complete article as possible, such as a possible title, to help the editor visualize it as an article in his magazine.


This paragraph gives reasons why the magazine should choose you to write the story. You can mention your experience, such as, "As the author of 300 nationally- published articles, I feel that..." Or your connections, "I have personally interviewed Michael Jordan and feel that.... Or your qualifications, "As the author of a finance column for twenty years..." Or include any proximity to the subject or specialized materials that you have. "As a master gardener for twenty years, I have a collection of photographs." If you have published clips to submit, mention that at the end of this paragraph--- "I appreciate your consideration, and would be happy to submit nationally-published clips."


If you will send me a possible word length, (or deadline) I will be happy to begin writing this feature immediately. I appreciate your consideration and have enclosed an s.a.s.e.


For maximum sales potential try to keep queries to one page. Two page queries sell sometimes, three-page queries almost never sell.

Remember to include as many elements of the finished article or book as possible.

After you write a query, send batches of it out to as many potential markets as possible.

© Copyright 2002, Carolyn Campbell

Carolyn Campbell is the author of the books, Reunited: True Stories Of Long Lost Siblings Who Find Each Other Again and Love Lost and Found: True Stories Of Long Lost Loves Reunited at Last (Penguin-Putnam)

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