Query

Write a query letter. This is the most important part of the process -- actually contacting the editor you'd like to work for. The query letter should have four parts:

  • Start off the letter by grabbing the reader's attention. All magazine articles begin with a compelling sentence or paragraph, and your query should do the same thing. Do not say, "My name is ______ and I want to write for your magazine."
  • Show the editor why your article idea is important for readers. This paragraph can discuss current issues surrounding your subject, give a quote from an expert, and mention other significant reasons the magazine must publish your story ASAP.
  • Give the editor the nuts and bolts of how you will write the story. How many words? What will it include? What experts will you be contacting for their input? Will you provide sidebars, photos, etc.? Reveal exactly how you will approach the piece.
  • Finally, list your qualifications as a writer. This is where you'll want to mention previous work and experiences that make you uniquely suited to write the piece. Don't hold back, you must brag! Tell the editor everything you think will help your case. If your previous (or current) career is linked to the pitch, mention it.

Put these four paragraphs on a one-page letter with your letterhead containing contact information. Enclose three or four appropriate clips and a self-addressed, stamped envelope. Mail the whole package, and then be patient. Editors often take up to three months to respond to query letters.