Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Query letters

Loriann Hoff Oberlin wrote a book called “Writing for Quick Cash.”. I picked up a copy recently and read portions of it. The book is not the type you read cover to cover, but simply pick and choose what you find relevant.

Loriann says that a freelance writer should never write an article and then offer it up for submission. They should first starting by offering a one-page query letter and then work with the editor on adjusting the proposed subject mater.

In the past month I’ve submitted five query letters. Of those five, I sent a full article draft to one of them. I had the story finished so I thought it would be best to offer it. So far I’ve received feedback from only one editor – the one I sent the full draft to. Although it was rejected, I appreciated the feedback and the acknowledgment of my existence.

Now to my point; While I think Loriann points out that writing a one page query letter is a more efficient approach to selling yourself, I’m beginning to think new writers need to send both query letter and article drafts. If you’ve never been published, what is the editor’s motivation to hire you? On the contrary, if you provide a query letter and a first draft of the finished product, I’m guessing the editor would be more entitled to look at your work and give it some thought.

I’ve never been an editor and don’t even work in the publishing business. But I do see being a writer as nothing more than trying to sell a product. If you’re known (i.e. developed a strong personal trademark), you can get away with selling proposals. If you’re unknown outside of family Christmas letters, then you need to do more to sell your product (i.e. you).

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