Sunday, November 24, 2019

Writing Confident Query Letters

Writing Confident Query Letters As someone who runs a website for writers (, I see a lot of query letters from new writers. The thing they miss most often? Confidence. Writers who are confident know their story, what it hopes to achieve, and how theyre going to get the work done. Those who arent ramble on, send editors two different sides to a story and refuse to take a stand. If an editor has limited time and is paying good money to hire someone, which freelancer do you think shell hire? What can you do to become that freelancer? 1. Prove it to yourself James Clear, who is an entrepreneur, weight lifter, and travel photographer, writes on his blog about the time in his freshman year of high school when his basketball team had started the season with a losing streak. One day, their coach pulled them together and uttered these words: Confidence is just displayed ability. Put another way, youre not going to achieve something because you believe in yourself; youre going to achieve something and only then will you start believing in yourself. 2. Be cool Weve all met the writer who is so lacking in self-confidence that he emails you every week to please vote for me in this contest that Ive entered. Dont be that guy. You want the work, of course. Thats why youre writing. But youre not desperate for it and will walk away if the terms dont suit you. Even if you arent feeling confident, act like you are. 3. Sound like you know what youre talking about Youre pitching the story, correct? So it would be normal for an editor to assume that you know what youre talking about as regards that story. Make sure you do enough background research to know exactly why this story should be published and why it would fit into a publications pages. Look at it from the editors perspective: Why should she hire and pay for someone who isnt yet clear on what the story is and why its important. 4. Take responsibility Maybe, perhaps, usually, typically, most likely, and other such words and phrases dont have place in your query letter, especially if youre new to freelancing. Dont say He seemed to be angry, when in reality youre pretty certain he was furious. 5. Make a point If you have something to say, say it. Many writers are afraid of taking a controversial stance because the editor might not agree, but that is part of the reason youre writing the pitch- to suss out whether this editor is the right fit for your piece or not. And you cant do that if you tiptoe around what needs to be said. This is especially true in science stories and in most international reporting. Be confident in not only the data you bring to her, but the inference and the conclusions that youve reached as a result of it. 6. Practice Finally- and yet again- there is no weakness that practice cant overcome, no lack of confidence that practice wont make disappear. Practicing writing (and sending) queries helps you get better each time you do it and the better you get, the more confident your queries naturally start sounding. This is why Im a big believer in pitching as much as you possibly can, especially in the beginning. And that will translate automatically to the words on the page.

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