Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Query Letters: Why Read the Magazine?

Before you query a magazine, you need to read it! Yes, it takes some time, but do you want to sell an article or not? Do your homework! Often, it is quite easy for an editor to tell if you have read her magazine--or if you have not. Here's what she knows that you need to know:

Know the readership. Be sure you know who the periodical is targeting as its readership. Obviously, you wouldn't pitch an article about cooking to Sports Illustrated. But you need to read the magazine to notice other details. For example, if you pitch an article about teenagers to ParentLife, you haven't read the magazine. ParentLife targets parents of children ages 0-12. Also, some parenting magazines are parent-driven, while others are child-driven. Read the magazine to know the slant of the articles.

Know the regulars. You may want to read more than one issue of the magazine in order to get a good feel for it. Regular features are usually written by contracted writers. Know who the regular contributors are so you don't pitch an article for a column that has already been contracted out for the next twelve months.

Know the recent topics. If a women's magazine just ran a story on how to protect a marriage from adultery and you query that same topic, your query goes nowhere, and you have wasted your time (not to mention the editor's time!). Read the magazine to know what has been published most recently.

When it is obvious to an editor that you are familiar with her magazine, you will write a better query letter and stand a much better chance of getting your foot in the door!

These are just a few tips. I hope they help!


Truth4thejourney said...

This is good information. I've heard that most publishers are willing to send you a sample magazine to read. Is this really true?

Rebecca Ingram Powell said...

This is a great question, and I have heard the same thing. I don't know if it's true or not, however, I don't think you would have anything to lose by asking!

Also, use the local library to peruse the most recent editions of magazines you want to query.

Thanks, Sonya!

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