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2 Resources: Query letter template and an affordable course
Hi, Kelly Eden here.
Welcome to my newsletter for writers. Each week you’ll get encouragement, tips, or advice on pursuing your writing dreams. It’s free and always will be.
In this introduction, I’ve included a couple of resources for you.
A pitching/query letter guide and easy-to-replicate template.
Details on the Personal Essay Course.
Read what’s useful and feel free to flick me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org to introduce yourself and say hi, or if you want to chat about getting your writing assessed.
1. Pitching/Query Guide
I teamed up with one of my editors to create this guide for you because I know how intimidating pitching/query emails can be!
Sometimes editors ask for a specific pitch: one line, or a detailed synopsis of your story. The structure below is a simple format I use when submission guidelines are vague.
A clear subject line.
Addressed to the editor’s name.
One sentence introducing yourself. You are selling the article idea, not yourself, so keep this brief. It’s also a good idea to briefly include why you like their magazine/website—even naming a specific article(s) you read and enjoyed.
One sentence introducing the article. Suggested title and, if it’s already written, a word count is included as well.
A small paragraph explaining the article, what you’ll cover, what angle you’ll take, and who you have lined up to interview (if you are going to).
A couple of lines about why it fits their magazine/website and why it will be useful or interesting to their readers. Will they be able to relate, learn from it, be better informed, be entertained? Make sure you have actually seen their articles and know that the magazine/website is a good match for your story! Be humble here: “I’m hoping this will resonate…” rather than “this is going to be great!"
Whether it has been printed somewhere before and when. Some editors will take reprints but they need to know they are not getting first rights. (This site has a very thorough rundown of rights and what they mean.) You don’t have to include which rights you’re offering them in the pitch. Simply mention if it has been printed somewhere before.
Timeline — tell them when you can have it ready by, or attach the full article if it’s already written — for example, This article can be ready for you within 5 days from acceptance.
Attach the article if it’s written. Some editors want it copy and pasted into the email body, others want it attached. Read the guidelines carefully. Add links to a couple of samples of your writing (called clips) so they can see your voice and style.
Your name and contact details — email and/or phone number.
Here’s a good example from Megan Nolte on Influence&Co’s blog
Subject Line: Exclusive Contributed Article Submission: Reaching Out to Editors
I hope you’ve had a great start to your week! My name is Meagan Nolte, and I’m a publication strategist at Influence & Co. I have written an exclusive, non-promotional article for The Knowledge Bank.
In my article, I offer advice to thought leaders and marketers about how they can reach out to editors to get their content published online. I’ve included actionable tips about how to write the email so it’s more appealing for a busy editor to read, and I’ve provided examples of both good and bad emails.
I think this article would fit perfectly on your site. It helps further the conversation presented in another article published a few months ago and will help provide your readers with a more well-rounded knowledge of this topic.
My article and headshot are attached for you to review. Feel free to make any editorial changes that you see fit, or let me know if there is anything else you need.
Remember to sign off with your contact details too.
Final notes on pitching/querying
One of our writing family emailed me recently to let me know they used this template and out of 5 query letters had 3 accepted!
Keep it brief and precise — editors are busy people.
One of my own editors, Kineta Booker, says, “Don’t ask what payment is. The editor knows to talk about that.”
Trust that if they like your article, they will contact you to discuss rates. After you send it off, expect to wait a while. You may not hear a reply at all if they’re not interested.
After a week, or longer depending on what the publication says there response time is, you could send a one- to two-line polite email reminder. If you still don’t hear back, assume they’re not interested. Some publications state how long they will take to review submissions and it can be 6 months!
Now send out more ideas elsewhere.
A Note on Rejection
When you get rejections, don’t let it discourage you. It may be that they’ve just run a similar story recently, or that your idea would be better for later in the year. Many editors say the writing they receive is good, they simply can’t use all of it.
Keep pitching—90% won’t be accepted when you start but it does get easier!
2. Personal Essay Course
Do you have stories you’d like to tell? Not quite sure what takes a story from journal-entry to readable personal essay?
For a self-paced course with personalized feedback from me, check out my Introduction to the Personal Essay course here.
It’s only $79USD which is much more affordable than most writing courses, especially with individual feedback.
I believe writing should be accessible for everyone and, as an ex-teacher, I am passionate about life-long learning. If you have questions, feel free to ask.
Writing for fun and for work
A career in writing can take many exciting paths. One writing path may even lead you to another unexpected one. It did for me.
But each has it’s own challenges. A successful career in any field of writing takes time, patience, hard work, and resilience (to handle all the rejections!).
It’s a long game, but hang in there — writing is one of the most rewarding, satisfying careers and hobbies you can have. I wouldn’t want to do anything else.