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Writing

WRITING QUERIES THAT SELL

Study and analyze the magazine to sell an article. They buy what they are already running. Read the magazine. Send in ideas that relate to what they already are covering.

The hooker - the first paragraph - is where the sale takes place; leaves the editor with a question, wanting to know more; and covers what, where, when, why and how all in one paragraph. The body is the second (and third) paragraph. This is where you'll put all the information to support your first paragraph. The final paragraph covers what the editor will supply, such as photos, line art, etc, and any suggestions for when the article should run and sidebar ideas.

Remember, good writing sells; bad writing doesn't sell.

The trick to selling your article ideas is to study Writer's Market, pick out the magazine each idea is best suited for, write the query targeted at that magazine, and send out several different queries on the same idea targeted differently for various types of magazines. Every idea you have should be sold to three different kinds of magazines of the story to fit that particular magazine. Remember, article ideas aren't really queries until you fine-tune them to fit the market you're trying to hit.

Here are a couple of other suggestions:

Present your idea through the tone of your query as though you think the editor must have it. Never use terms like, "If you decide to," "If you like," "I will if you want me to," "I hope you will," "Your reader might like," and other phrases that suggest that you feel the editor may not buy your query. Each query needs to be positive and demonstrate that it is targeted right for the reader of that magazine. You want to make the editor feel guilty if he doesn't buy your story idea. Most of the time the editor will.
Remember too that you must demonstrate that you will be pulling information from resources other than from your own experience. Terms like, "I'll have four experts give their opinions on why jumping off a bridge with bungee cords tied to your feet can enrich your life, develop courage and keep you from having cancer," will help sell a piece. Also information like, "Dr. Billy Bob Jones, who has been a pastor for more than 40 years, will give your readers his 10 ingredients that have produced couples who have stayed happily married for more than 30 years. Doctor Jones has a 98 percent success ratio of the people he marries remaining married for more than 30 years."

Anywhere you can inject research, facts or expert testimony in your queries or articles will make them stronger and more sellable.

Say in the final paragraph of your query, "I will include color transparencies, black-and-white photos and charts and graphs to help illustrate my piece. I look forward to hearing from you as soon as possible to begin work on this article."