How to Query a Publication About Your Freelance Writing Idea
So now you’ve found an international publication where you can pitch your freelance writing idea. How do you write that query letter, or that article proposal to the editor?
For me, the best rule is be straightforward! With all the technological advancements we now have, our world has become a very busy one, and the important thing is to deliver your message as quickly as you can, and be clear while delivering it. Publication editors are very busy people and they usually don’t have time for subtleties. And oftentimes, it’s really more about your subject matter. If it’s right for their publication, and if it’s unique, then your chances of getting an assignment are excellent.
So how can you be direct to the point? Well, you just follow my personal Three-Part Query Rule.
- tell the publication what your topic is about.
- list down how many ways you can write about the subject matter.
- at the end of the letter, introduce yourself with a short bio.
As an example, here is a successful query I made to Dolls Magazine.
On July 12, "Ninay: the Filipino Doll", will be unveiled at Club Filipino. The launching will showcase 50 unique works, each piece a painstaking work of art done by brilliant Filipino designer Patis Tesoro, in collaboration with renowned painter Romulo Galicano. Ninay, the Filipino Doll, is inspired by the 19th century novel Ninay by Pedro Paterno that depicted the life and times of the Spanish period.
Ms. Tesoro, as you may already know, is the designer of the Filipina Barbie. This time, she and Mr. Galicano have taken the idea a step further and came up with Ninay, uniquely Filipino. Each collection will be presented in nostalgic tableaus such as Panunuyo (Courtship), Nagtsitsismisan (Gossiping), Nagnonovena (Praying), Anihan (Harvesting) and many more. The costumes use authentic fabrics such as piña, cotton, linen, and jusi with elaborate embellishments and embroideries.
Aside from Ninay, various 19th century people, will be featured as well, like the Illustrados (the landed rich), Negosyanteng Intsik (Chinese merchants), Tindera ng Pamaypay at Tsinelas (slipper and fan merchants), and Travelling Mother and Child, a common sight in Ninay's era.
The launch exhibit is for the benefit of indigenous Filipinos. Plans are already underway to launch more Ninay collections and come up with less intricate designs for the local and international market.
I would like to cover the launching for you, and perhaps interview Ms. Tesoro and Mr. Galicano themselves, about the origins and development of the project, if they are available. I will also be very glad to write the article based on any ideas you may suggest. I can provide photographs, as needed.
I am a freelance writer here in the Philippines and have had my features, short stories, poems, and film reviews published in national magazines and newspapers here, such as the Philippines Free Press and the Philippine Graphic. My last published work was a coverage for the U.S. publication Pool and Billiard Magazine of the pool match between Efren Reyes and Jeanette Lee held last November 3--the article came out in the January 2002 issue. I am now writing another article for Pool and Billiard Magazine, and two more articles for Filmmaker Magazine and The Jersey Journal, both U.S. publications.
I will look forward with interest to your reaction. Thank you and more power!
Notice how, in the first four paragraphs, I explained everything about the topic, so that the editor can see the whole picture and learn as many details about my chosen subject.
Then, in the fifth paragraph, I gave the editor options on how the article will be written. Notice the last sentence, subtly telling the editor "It’s all up to you, really." So, actually, I did not just give her two options, but an infinite number of alternatives! (Note that this is possible because I covered everything I could possible cover about the subject in the first part).
Finally, I ended it with my credentials to give the editor confidence that I can do the job.
The last paragraph is a formality, but at the same time, prompts the editor for a reply.
Querying publications is a significant part of freelance writing, and you will spend a considerable portion of your time knocking on doors, so it is important to query as fast as you can, as many publications as you can. In this regard, the Three-Part Query Rule is very handy. Good luck!
Dino Manrique is the owner/publisher of FilipinoWriter.com. You may reach him at filipinowriter (at) gmail (dot) com.