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Writing 101: How to Write a Query Letter That Works for Print Magazines

photo by: Josh

If you’re starting to freelance or have been writing online and now want to venture into the print magazine world, you’ll have to start by querying and pitching editors. Since I don’t want to reinvent the wheel, I am going to share with you some awesome posts that helped me craft pitches that worked with leading print magazines.

Deciding Which Magazine to Pitch

The first step in writing for a print magazine is choosing one that fits your style, niche and tone. Study the magazine, its articles and content from the perspective of a writer rather than a reader. If you feel that you have an idea that would be a perfect fit, time to craft your pitch. If you need more information on choosing a magazine to pitch, do read Catherine Tully’s post ‘What Magazine Should I Pitch’ on All Freelance Writing.

Writing a Query That Rocks

A query is what would land you that print magazine gig. It is what an editor would look at first. If it isn’t the best there is, chances are that a time-starved editor would toss it into the trashcan without so much as a glance at what you want to write about. So, craft a query that’ll knock the socks off all other pitches in an editor’s tray. Moira Allen’s article on How to Write a Successful Query is what I referred to when crafting my query letter for Child (a Parents publication). It worked like a charm. Sharon Hurley Hall shares some more great tips to craft query letters for magazine editors on Quips and Tips for Successful Writers.

If you’re considering emailing a query which besides being faster, may also be the preferred way to query for some magazines, do read Moira’s article on Preparing Email Queries. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen, another writer I truly admire, offers valuable inputs on email mistakes to avoid and emailing pitches.

Of Follow Ups and More

Persistence should be your middle name if you’re aspiring to be a freelance writer. Magazine editors are busy, busy people and if its been a week or so and you haven’t heard back from them, send a well-worded and polite follow-up email. I’d suggest doing this at least 3-4 times. If you still don’t hear back, chances are they really aren’t interested. However, there is always the possibility of them coming back to you after 12 months of you querying them. Yeah, that’s what happened with me and Child. I queried them in January 2010, heard from them in January of this year and was published in April. Yes, it can take that long.

Have you queried a print magazine successfully? What resources did you find useful? Do share.


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  1. Sharon Hurley Hall says:

    Thanks for including my article on query letters. I’m off to check out Moira’s post now, as it’s always good to pick up some additional tips.

  2. I echo Sharon: thanks for including me here, Prerna!

    Another thing that’s SO important is coming up with a unique, creative, interesting article idea. I get so many pitches that are re-runs of articles that have been done a gazillion times (eg, How to Save Money on Gas). Editors want eye-catching stories!

    All good things,

    • The Mom Writes says:

      Thank you, Laurie! Yes, article ideas. I learnt this from you and am forever indebted. See, that’s why I admire you SO much! :-)

  3. Thank you for this invaluable information. I’m expanding my bandwidth to regional magazines and found your advice really succinct and helpful. Wish me luck.
    Mary Ellen

    • The Mom Writes says:

      Hi Mary Ellen! All the best. And do keep us posted when you get published. Isn’t this the most exciting feeling?!

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