Sample Query to a Magazine
A query to a magazine is a sales pitch. Your goal is to get an assignment. There is some homework you MUST do before you write your query:
Your query is actually a single page (certainly no more than two) letter that tells the editor what you are proposing to write, why it's important to that magazine's readers and why you should write it. The sample below is exactly the kind of query I'd be most likely to say YES to, if I had a budget for freelancers. Pay attention to the footnotes.
11 Tips for Query Writing (3)
Writers are always looking for ways to improve their query writing skills.(4) I propose to give your readers 11 tips that will quickly show them exactly what editors want and need in queries. The completed article will be about 1,000 words and can be delivered to you in hard copy and/or via email within two weeks of your acceptance.(5)
Anne Wayman (8)
(1) Find out the editor's name and title
(2) Publication name
(3) Some will argue that you should start with the typical Dear Ms. Wayman, and you can't go wrong with the more formal approach. On the other hand, editors have little time and getting right to the point with a great title can be very effective.
(4) This sentence addresses why this article will appeal to the readers of this publication... it shows you're familiar with the publication and what its readers want.
(5) This section spells out exactly what I'm suggesting... the editor is in a position to know what to expect, and when to expect it. This kind of detail allows the editor to plan ahead, or to respond with an alternate suggestion. For example, print editor might suggest shortening this piece to use as a sidebar. But note, although I recognize that possibility, I'm leaving it up to the editor to make the suggestion, rather than confusing the issue.
(6) Here's where I sell myself. In my case, I do have this kind of experience; if you don't, that's ok. (See No Clips? No Problem!) If you don't have a website you can sum up your experience with a short sentence like "My published credits include articles in Latitude 38, OpenGate and several local newspapers." The idea here is to reassure the editor you've got some experience. (You should have a website - see Do Writers Need Websites?)
(7) Self Addressed Stamped Envelope
Proof it, mail it and log in when you mailed so you'll know when you submitted your query.
(8) Always be double sure you include complete contact information, including phone number. It's not unusual for an editor who wants the proposed article to pick up the phone and call you.