Posts Tagged ‘querying’

Pitch, Pitch, PITCH!

In Step-by-Step on November 23, 2009 at 8:54 pm

Phase 2, Step 2-

In the last installment of my Step-by-Step series I discussed getting your feet wet by blogging, contributing to some smaller websites, or writing for residual income sites like EHow and Infobarrel.

In this next step we’re assuming that you’ve gotten some good practice for formal writing, you’re feeling confident, and you’re read for the big leagues…not quite the big leagues but close enough for the moment.

Now get out there and show ’em how its done!

By this point you should already have some publications in mind (if not hop over and read this post).  For even more on where to go hunting for your first clip you can read a previous post on promising opportunities for beginners.

Once you have your sites set on a publication it’s time to consider which route to take – the “complete manuscript route” or the “query route”.  Both can be challenging.  For beginners it may seem less daunting to go the “complete manuscript route”; since a query package calls for clips that you may not have.

In the case of sending out a complete manuscript you have to be sure that you’ve completed these steps:

  • Set your sights on a publication who’s subject mater you feel comfortable tackling.
  • Study at least 3 back issues for their tone, and to avoid duplicating a recently run topic.
  • Pick an idea that fits their intended audience.
  • Review the publications writer’s guidelines and editorial calendar, if they have them.
  • Write an accurate, engaging, and error free manuscript that fits the publication – in terms on word count, tone, sidebars. etc.
  • Finally, you must write a well executed cover letter (for more on the cover letter check back soon).

A query package is similar to the cover letter, except a cover letter is written to accompany a complete manuscript and a query is written before to actual article is written, describing tot he editor in question an idea that you have.  If you don’t have any clips can you still send in a query?  Of course!  there’s no rule otherwise.  But, it may be easier to sell something you’ve already written as opposed to an idea, without some practice selling yourself and your writing first.

It’s easy to procrastinate and get hung up on this step, but no writing gets into print without first pitching.  My suggestion?  Write a couple queries and cover letters for yourself first, with no intention of sending them out, and give yourself a deadline.  Ask a friend or family member to hold you to that deadline.  Maybe even hand over that $50 you were going to spend on a handbag until you finish it.  Once you have it written without bloodshed it’ll be easier to write the next one (you may have to implement the same $50 dollar routine to get you moving on mailing out the real cover letter).

Go get ’em tiger!


Getting Around the QUERY

In Writer Challenges on September 17, 2009 at 5:45 am

  As a writer it’s helpful to know what you’re struggling with so you can make the extra effort to eliminate the chink in the armor.  For me it’s querying.

  The query has so much added pressure.  You have to first seriously dissect at least a few recent copies of the publication to ensure that you can demonstrate that you are familiar with them, avoid duplicating an idea that they just ran (which would also be a monumental waste of your time), and match he tone of the publication.  Then you have to squeeze all this information about your idea, how you plan to execute it, why it fits their publication, and why you’re the one to write it on one little sheet of paper and make it stand out.  I hate it.

 Although it is something all writers will have t do at some point in their career, there are some ways you can avoid it – all in the interest of time.  In my case studying multiple copies of a publication to appropriately match the tone is very time consuming.  But I still need clips.  Not only do I need clips I would like to get my writing out there sooner rather than later.  So if you’re like me, what do you do?

  Call a few publications, preferably free local papers, and ask if they accept unsolicited manuscripts.  If they do you can just skip the query and send the complete article to the publication.  You still have to study the publication and make sure you match the tone and don’t duplicate ideas, but at least you can skip right to the article.

  Getting a few clips by submitting articles to sites like Ezine Articles or Ehow will help your query/manuscript look a little more appealing.  Editors seem to like experience.  This sucks for new writers, but we just have to deal.

  But in the end, the truth is – I have to get over it.  And if you have an aversion to queries too, then so do you.  This is just meant to help you get some clips in the mean time while you tackle your fears of queries, since clips are the name of the game.