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How To Approach Editors With Your Articles
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This can be the most nerve-wracking moment of the whole process of writing. You've put your heart and soul (at the very least a good deal of time and effort!) into writing an article that's simply super and now you've got to send it out into the big wide world to be assessed by an editor - arrgh! What if he doesn't like it? What if he thinks you're just an amateur? Well, before you get yourself into a real tizzy, editors are just normal people like you - I should know, I am one and I'm nice! So, what can you do to get an editor to consider your article?
First and, most importantly, you need to create a query letter - most editors expect you to contact them with one of these before you send the article to them. Actually, it works in your favour too, as your idea might be something they've recently covered. Or they may have just accepted an article on the same subject from someone else. Or they might have staff writers to cover that particular topic area, so do not require freelance articles at all. Any of these reasons clearly makes it a waste of time for you to spend time creating and sending your article to that particular publisher.
What Should a Query Letter Contain?
Now, writing a query letter may seem like an easy thing to do, but you really should take some time to learn how to create the 'perfect' letter to maximise your chances of getting the editor to consider your work. And, just to clarify, when we say query letter, it can also be an email.
There are certain things you need do to make your query letter attract the editor's attention:
• it should be bright, brisk and breezy. Be enthusiastic about the topic and set out the positive points of the article, including why your angle will be interesting to the magazine's readers and what is unusual or newsworthy about your approach
• write the letter with that particular publisher in mind, so they think you've written the article just for them - targeting it specifically at their readers. This does not really have to be the case, as you may have two or three magazines you are considering sending the article too, but the editor doesn't need to know that. (And don't forget, you should not double deal!)
• you also need to sell yourself and you do this by offering up your credentials, not only as a writer, but as someone with the right experience, a professional attitude towards writing and credible contacts. In short, you have to prove your credibility. Think about it, an editor receives a query letter from a new writer and thinks 'Why should I take a chance on this person?' They think this because new writers often over-stretch themselves, proposing articles that are too ambitious and then fail to deliver.
So, to convince them you can handle the job, you should include:
o previous work you've had published, paid for or not - make sure you include links to or cuttings of your work
o any specialist knowledge you have
o contacts you've made, such as celebrities or respected academics
o prizes or awards you've won
o don't make the letter too long, a maximum of four or five paragraphs. This may seem like a difficult task, but, as a writer, you should be able to manage it.
If you are still struggling about what to include, think about it in these terms:
If it makes you look good, put it in. If it makes you look bad or like a novice, leave it out.
And, don't forget to include your outline - see How to Write an Article Outline
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