Thursday, August 10, 2006

The making of a magazine

(fourth in a series)

Every now and then, I receive an e-mail or letter from a potential contributor who wants his or her article to appear in WildBird and goes about it in the completely wrong way. Here’s the fourth wrong way: failing to pitch your query adequately.

Don't underestimate the need to sell your idea. The desire for a byline in a magazine remains very high despite the option of push-button (aka online) publishing. You're competing with numerous other writers for a limited number of pages.

That stiff competition means that you need to make your query and your writing skills stand out above those of other potential contributors. You need to come across as knowledgable and professional. Keep in mind that this is a business transaction.

Here's an example of what not to do, from an actual e-mail:

Hi Amy:

Please find my query on birding locations in [one area] and [another area] attached. Drop me a line with any questions. Thanks.
Let's look at the errors.
1. The query wasn't attached. Ahem.

2. Maybe I'm just lazy, but I'd prefer that the query appear in the actual e-mail so that I can read it easily without opening another document. If you make my life simpler, I'll give you more of my time. (Doesn't everyone operate that way?)

3. There's no mention here of previous contact or something that will jog my memory. It's quite possible that months will pass before I review a batch of queries, so it's to the writer's advantage to cite previous correspondence or face-to-face interaction.

4. The e-mail gives me no incentive to give more of my limited time to this writer. Case closed.

Want to see the previous goof?


Blogger Casey Tucker said...


You provide an example of what not to do, and give a few critiques or thoughts about why the example query was not a good one. Could you provide an example of a successful query?

June 23, 2008 10:39 AM  
Blogger Amy said...


a successful query might follow a short and sweet template like this:

Dear [current editor],

[Show your familiarity with the publication.]

[Concisely describe your proprosed topic and why/how the editor's readers will benefit from your experience and knowledge.]

I look forward to hearing from you. You can reach me at this e-mail address or [phone number].


February 25, 2010 11:37 AM  

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