13 Tips About Email Queries

in Getting Started & Getting It Done

Query by emailMore and more publications are accepting queries by email and they can be an effective way to market your writing. Here are 13 tips to make sure you are successful with your queries over the ‘net:

  1. Be sure the editor or publisher accepts queries by email. Writer’s Market and other market listings often include this information; if not, pick up the phone and ask.
  2. Email your query to a specific editor rather than to a generic email address. Again, if you don’t have that information, call and ask.
  3. Remember, no matter how it’s sent the purpose of a query is to sell you and your writing.
  4. Don’t send attachments unless you’re invited to.  Many offices simply delete them to avoid virus problems, and you’ll never know.
  5. Your subject line is important. Make it clear your message is a query and if you have a great title, use it, like this: Query – 11 Ways to Find Great Elder Care
  6. Skip the Dear Ms. Smith and open with  your strong selling first paragraph, preferably the first ‘graph of the proposed article.

  7. If all you can get is a generic email and you know the name of the editor, include it in the subject line: Ms. Smith – Query – 9 Ways to Save Gift Money
  8. Keep your query as short as you can while doing a good job.
  9. At the bottom, link to article samples on your web site.
  10. Make sure you include your phone number and your snail mail address – include your email address too just in case. Make it easy for editors to contact you.
  11. Double-check your spelling and grammar.
  12. Save a copy of each e-query on your computer – probably in an email query folder.
  13. Be patient; many guidelines give some indication of how long it takes for the market in question to respond. Honor that. If it goes more than a week or so beyond, send a follow up email – if there’s no indication, follow up gently in two or three weeks.

More tips about writing an email query

  1. Although most people use Outlook these days, don’t count on it. Keep your line length at 80 characters or less.
  2. Send the query to yourself first for final proof reading and to get a sense of how it looks.
  3. Avoid any special formatting like bold; you simply don’t know what it will look like on the other end.
  4. Never, ever use html. Again, you don’t know if the editor’s email can handle html and even if it can, you’ll look like an amateur.
  5. No emoticons, pictures or anything other than a signature that helps the editor know you can write and how to contact you.


Image from http://www.sxc.hu

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Nancy Passow November 29, 2010 at 11:43 am

Great tips; many of them should be kept in mind for any business e-mail (no smiley faces, no HTML, strong subject line, keep the e-mail short, double-check spelling & grammar).


Elizabeth West April 14, 2010 at 3:51 pm

Ooh, thanks. I’m going to bookmark this article when I get home.


Cathy Miller April 14, 2010 at 3:26 pm

Make that a 3rd person who’s old enough. :-) Oops, there’s that smiley face.

Great list, Anne. I’m getting ready to do a series of queries for a customer & it always helps to have some reminders (like making sure they accept email queries) before sending it off to never-never land.
.-= Cathy Miller´s last blog ..Why I Love Ghostwriting =-.


Anne April 15, 2010 at 10:43 am

I’m sooooo glad I’m not the only “elder” around here. Let’s turn it into a real term of honor!


Cathy Miller April 15, 2010 at 10:46 am

I like to think of us as successfully seasoned. :-D
.-= Cathy Miller´s last blog ..Why I Love Ghostwriting =-.


jorgekafkazar April 14, 2010 at 12:12 pm

Only your posts won’t take upper ASCII!
.-= jorgekafkazar´s last blog ..Tenirax, Ch V =-.


Anne April 14, 2010 at 12:22 pm

Goddess. To think we’re both old enough to know what upper ASCII actually is.


jorgekafkazar April 14, 2010 at 12:12 pm

Yeah, a bunch of little smiley faces will make the editor think you’ve been teaching first grade too long. Good list, Anne. You get 5 smiley faces today. ?????
.-= jorgekafkazar´s last blog ..Tenirax, Ch V =-.


Anne April 14, 2010 at 12:21 pm

Thanks. Can I put them on my fridge?


Steve Amoia April 14, 2010 at 10:49 am

Anne, I have a suggested addition for #9. It could also be used when you apply for an assignment.

Include a brief excerpt of the linked article with the publication source and date:

Writing sample 1: Selected Quotes from “Ernest Hemingway on Writing,” About Freelance Writing, Dec. 2008.

Excerpt: “While few of us will ever reach the literary brilliance of Mr. Hemingway, some of his advice might provide an intriguing perspective from one of the most gifted writers in the English language.”

Link: http://www.aboutfreelancewriting.com/2008/12/selected-quotes-from-ernest-hemingway-on-writing/
.-= Steve Amoia´s last blog ..DC United to face AC Milan on Wednesday, May 26 at RFK Stadium =-.


Anne April 14, 2010 at 12:21 pm

nice, thanks


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