I am SO fed up! And, I fully expect this article to get slammed by the faint of heart, the political correctness police, and anybody else who can’t accept a good, honest rant!
While we have always received numerous inappropriate query letters from writers over the years, I grew tired of individually teaching every rejected writer how to better query a publication. We took steps in 2015 to further assist those who really want to write for us.
We started soliciting queries via our online contact form to avoid sp*m filters. After we did that, we kept getting queries from people who hadn’t read our guidelines. So, we added a link to our guidelines on the site, directly above the contact form.
“If you are contacting us about writing articles, please read these guidelines first. We ONLY buy articles that fit these guidelines.”
The “please read these guidelines first” part is a live link, and in a red, bold font.
AND, ALL OF THAT STILL DIDN’T WORK! I can’t remain polite any longer!
Every single day, I get one query letter after another from writers who use that form, yet DO NOT BOTHER TO CLICK ON THE GUIDELINES! I don’t know how much clearer to make it. So, I am publishing this article for all future writers who send inappropriate query letters to us. Rather than individually coaching each writer about appropriate techniques, and rather than deleting their inappropriate queries without a response, I will simply respond to their queries by copying and pasting a link to this article. Other publishers and editors are warmly welcomed to do the same.
ATTN: WRITER WHO WASTED MY TIME AND YOURS TODAY
I understand that you want to make some extra money, or that you want to be a writer, or both! But, for the love of the written word, please stop what you’re doing and read this!
YOU HAVE DONE ONE OF THE FOLLOWING:
1. You sent us a query letter about a topic that has no relation whatsoever to writing or publishing. We are a publication for writers and authors and we publish articles about writing and publishing. We do not publish articles about petroleum reserves, or the current political climate, or the latest celebrity sighting. We don’t publish poetry or restaurant reviews. We also don’t publish travel stories, or crafting essays, or coverage of your local school board meeting or high school football game.
PLEASE RESEARCH ALL MARKETS BEFORE QUERYING. Otherwise, you have wasted your and the editor’s time.
2. Other editors are thinking this but they’re all too afraid to say it…SO I WILL! Based on the misspellings, sentence structure errors, and inappropriate punctuation in your query, it appears you have a very poor grasp of the English language. We are an English-language publication. While we frequently work with folks who are located in other countries, we can only accept work from those who have mastered the English language. If you have not, you should ask an English-speaking friend to check your work before submitting it to an English-language publication. I’m sorry if you find this offensive, but I would never offer to write for a foreign-language publication if I had not yet mastered that same foreign-language. Neither should you.
3. Based on the query you sent, it appears you have mastered the English language, but your spelling and/or grammar skills are horrible. Please always use spell-check and grammar-check before querying. Remember that spell-check and grammar check do not catch all errors. If your skills are weak in the areas of spelling and grammar, have a professional writer friend look over your queries before sending them out.
4. You sent us a query letter that contains missing punctuation and/or incorrect punctuation. If you can’t punctuate correctly, you really need to take some classes before you can become a successful freelance writer.
5. Based on the query letter you sent, it appears the shift key may be broken on your keyboard. But, it’s far more likely that you were just in too much of a hurry to use two fingers simultaneously on your keyboard. If you can’t capitalize correctly, you can’t write for me, nor for other serious publications.
6. Based on the query letter you sent, it appears the space bar may be broken on your keyboard. But, it’s far more likely that you were just in too much of a hurry to edit your query before you clicked send. Or, perhaps you just didn’t care. Remember that editors usually delete error-laden queries rather than waste time responding to them. If you want to be a serious writer, be serious in all your correspondence with editors.
7. Your query letter is asking us what you need to do to write for us, or asking what we specifically need at this time. When you sent your query using the form on our website, there was a prominent statement about writing for us, along with a link to our writer’s guidelines. Wouldn’t it be faster for everyone involved if you’d read that before you contacted me? Always research a publication’s writer’s guidelines before sending a query.
8. Your query letter was addressed to “dear sirs.” I am not a “sir.” I am a woman and I own this publication. While I understand that sexism may be rampant where you come from, it’s not so common here. There are millions of women business owners in the United States. Addressing a query to “dear sirs” is offensive to me, and to many other women publishers and editors as well.
If you have queried other publications, and received few or no responses, I suspect you have made these errors with them as well. If a writer can’t be bothered to research a publication (or to even read the name of the publication, which usually indicates the genre of that publication), writers can’t expect an editor to take the time to seriously respond to them.
The following common and repeated errors will always result in a failed freelancing writing career:
– Not researching the market, and sending inappropriate queries
– Using misspelled words and/or bad grammar
– Approaching a foreign-language publication without having mastered that language
– Incorrect (or missing) capitalization
– Incorrect (or missing) punctuation and spacing
– Offensive statements
– A variety of other errors
To see NUMEROUS examples of inappropriate queries, CLICK HERE.
For assistance with your future querying, please check out: QUERY LETTERS THAT WORKED! Real Queries That Landed $2K+ Writing Assignments