Start local. That’s the advice I received when building my writing portfolio. In 2001, I was new to freelancing, with only a few clips published on the Internet. There were a few newspapers and magazines that I considered writing for in my area and one in particular was a regional parenting magazine that I read regularly.
Unfortunately, I hated writing query letters. It would take days for me to complete just one. Someone from my online writing group shared how they nabbed an assignment by sending the editor an interest letter. The interest letter introduced the person as a local freelance writer, the type of writing they specialize in, list of publishing credits/or resume, and ended with a request for an assignment. I put together an interest letter and submitted it to the editor of the regional parenting magazine.
Within a few weeks the editor called. We chatted about the writing samples I submitted and how the magazine typically assigns articles. A month later, I got my first assignment. I researched, interviewed, and submitted my first article to the editor. Two months later, the editor requested additional quotes. I initially agreed but later backed out. This cost me a year of not getting assignments from this editor. But I kept my name in front of her by submitting new ideas every month.
Finally, in March 2003, I got an email from the editor offering me another assignment. I quickly accepted. I knew that I had to prove to her that I could do the job. I researched, interviewed, and submitted. Two months later, the piece was published in their “Back-to-School” issue. I’ve been getting assignments from them every since!
This experience has shown me that 1.) professionalism is important to make it in this business and 2.) persistence does pay off.
Tequitia R. Andrews is a freelance writer in Virginia whose work has been published in Indy’s Child, All About Kids, Richmond Parents Monthly, Richmond Times Dispatch, The Progress-Index, and ePregnancy.com.
Publisher’s Note: To read copies of real interest letters (we call them general query letters, or pitch letters), see Query Letters That Worked!.