Friday, October 16, 2009

Friday--The Writer's Porch

The Art of the Article—Part 3

Did you write your 500-word article as assigned last week? I hope you did, because today we are going to learn how to query a magazine editor.

Now, I am sure many of you are asking, “Query? What is a query?” A query is a letter written to an editor to express your desire to write an article and to pique her interest in your idea. The query letter must be perfectly written with a great hook, so that the editor decides she needs to see your manuscript. If the editor requests your manuscript, it does not mean that she is going to publish it. It only means that you’ve hooked her attention enough that she wants to see more of your topic and writing skills.

All right, so you have a great idea on an article that you would like to submit to a magazine or an e-zine. Where do you go from here? Great question! There are two approaches for article writing and submission.

1. Query the magazine editor with your idea and wait for a response before writing it.
2. Write the article and then query the editor.

Let’s explore the pros and cons of each of these tactics. Make sure to study the magazine’s writer guidelines so that you know how they prefer to be queried.

Query 1. The reason to query the magazine first is that you don’t waste your time on an article that nobody wants. If you query and there is possible interest, then the editor might be able to give you advice and clarity on what he or she would like to see in the article.

Query 2, or option number two. Writing the article first benefits you in knowing that you can actually write the article. Plus, as you write, you may discover a completely different angle to take. Thus, when you query an editor your piece may hold more appeal than when you began with only an idea.

For myself, I prefer the latter option. I am not sure why, but I think if I have a concept of an article, I like to see it on my screen. I believe I write better queries. But with that said, I have wasted a lot of time on articles that never saw the light of day.

In addition, this approach may hinder an editor that may want to assign me a topic as a writer. The editor may not think I have the ability to write on assignment. Also, if I promoted myself more as a freelance article writer, I would probably have switched to the query first and then writing the article. But for now, I write and then submit. Do whatever makes the most sense to you and your writing style.

I currently need to write about ten articles on a variety of topics coming from my various books to help promote the books. Even as I write this I think, “Why don’t I just send out the queries to see if I get a nibble?” But for some quirky reason, I want to write the article first. So, I put pressure on myself to write. Is this good or bad? I really don’t know, it’s just my personal preference.

Two Very Important Rules:

Make sure before you query a magazine editor that your article is a good fit for their magazine. Don’t send an article about raising godly children to a publication that publishes articles on fashion!

Only query one editor at a time for each magazine article. It is considered taboo to query more than one at a time because these magazines are competing for the same audience. Once you have received a rejection on the article, it is all right for you to send a query to another magazine.

Let the editor know what rights you are offering for the article: All Rights, First Rights, Reprint Rights. (We’ll take a look at that in two weeks.)

Keep the Heart-Print Faith—Fun, Fearless and Fulfilled,

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