Writing Query Letters: 5 Proven Steps That Will Get You a Response Every Time By Louisa Eunice

Writing Query Letters: 5 Proven Steps That Will Get You a Response Every Time By Louisa Eunice

Looking to revamp your marketing as a freelance writer this year? The secret is perfecting your query letters!

If you’ve been sending query letters, and have yet to get a reply, you’re doing it wrong.

To help you nail your query letter every time, follow these 5 steps:

Step #1: Know who you’re speaking to

The phrase “ Dear sir/madam” should never be in your vocabulary. Take time to find out the editor’s name, as this will immediately make your pitch more personable. It will show the editor that you took time to find out who they were and that you know a bit about them. You can usually find the name of the editor or managing editor on a company’s website. If not, do some research on LinkedIn or Twitter.

Step #2: Prove your knowledge

Show that you’ve researched your topic. You don’t want to offer a compelling title without backing it up. If your title is research-worthy, snag in a short statistic or two that will work in your favor while writing your query. Also, if you’ve pre-interviewed a source, and have a great quote from them, don’t hesitate to include it. Offer an example or two that will convince the editor that the work is already half-done. This way, assigning the story will seem like less of a gamble. If you have any weak spots, don’t show them. For instance, don’t let the editor know that this is your first time covering the topic. You want to come off professionally and this statement won’t work in your favor. If you’re confident in your ability. It’s always best to play it up.

Step #3: Acknowledge how busy the editor is

The best way to do this is by keeping your query letters short and sweet. Surely, you wouldn’t want to send in a query that would take half an hour to read. This will be very tedious for the editor to go through as they have many other letters to address. You want to hit all the sweet spots in a brief manner. A few memorable lines should do the trick! Indicate your compelling title, list out your main points, and include a few lines about the purpose of your query. As far as word count goes, aim to keep your query letter at around 200 words. The point is to lure the editor so they will want to follow up and learn more.

Step #4: Put your best foot forward

You’re looking to be seen as the best person to carry the story. To do this, you have to highlight all the great points that will help you make a successful case. Mention any relevant publications that you’ve written for in the past. If there are none, mention a life experience, and why that is a relevant starting point for the story. Consider the magazine’s writing style, and adhere to it. For example, if articles begin with quotes, include a quote in your introduction section. Also, determine whether the magazine’s tone is edgy or serious while addressing the editor. Lastly, share your best clips or publishing credits if the magazine allows for this. This is done in an effort to show that you’re the most qualified person for the job.

Step #5: Sign off with consideration

Don’t forget to thank the editor for reading your letter amidst their busy schedule. Be courteous in your conclusion as this will show consideration for the editor. Don’t be afraid to ask for the sale as you sign off. Phrases like “I’ll be happy to write this article for you” show thoughtfulness, consideration, and willingness to write. A single line is sufficient enough for your conclusion. Don’t get into plenty of details here.

Don’t fear rejection. Even the best writers face rejection time and again. This should only give you the motivation to send out as many query letters as you can. With a well-crafted query letter, you’ll always hear back from the editor, even if it’s to let you know that they won’t be picking up your idea this time. Some will even ask you to pitch again. No matter the outcome, always aim to write query letters that jump out of the pile.

Louisa Eunice is a freelance writer who has experience writing B2B and B2C content for a variety of audiences and publications. She also writes short-form marketing content for an array of unique brands. Some past organizations Louisa has worked with include TapDesk, Captive Network, Reviewed, and many more.


Angela is not only the publisher of WritersWeekly.com. She is President & CEO of BookLocker.com,
a self-publishing services company that has been in business since 1998. Ask her anything.