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18 Tips For Selling Your Writing With An Email Query

email queryThese days it’s rare for a publication, publisher or agent not to accept queries by email. The email query  can be an effective way to market your writing.

Here are 18 tips to make sure you are successful with your queries over the ‘net:

  1. Double check that the agent, editor or publisher accepts queries by email. Writer’s Market and other market listings often include this information; check their website which may give the info. If you don’t find it, pick up the phone and ask.
  2. Email your query to a specific editor or agent rather than to a generic email address. Again, if you don’t have that information, check their website or call and ask.
  3. Ms. Smith – Query – 9 Ways to Save Gift Money in the subject line may get you to the right person if all you can find is a generic email.
  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. Keep your query as short as you can while doing a good job.
  8. At the bottom, link to article samples on your web site.
  9. 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.
  10. Double-check your spelling and grammar
  11. Send a copy of your email query to yourself before you sent it out – surprising how often you’ll catch errors and be able to correct them.
  12. Save a copy of each email query on your computer – probably in an email query folder. You may want to refer to them again.
  13. Be patient; many guidelines give some indication of how long it takes for the market in question to respond. Honor that.
  14. 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.
  15. Keep your line length at 80 characters or less.Although most people use Outlook these days, don’t count on it. 
  16. If you draft in Word, paste it into WordPad or NotePad to get rid of all the hidden formatting Word inserts that can make your email look strange.
  17. Avoid any special formatting like bold; you simply don’t know what it will look like on the other end. 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.
  18. No emoticons, pictures or anything other than a signature that helps the editor know you can write and how to contact you.

You might also enjoy: 8 Top Freelance Writer Business Problems

Write well and often,

Anne Wayman freelance writer



Image from http://www.sxc.hu

{ 11 comments… add one }
  • 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).

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

  • 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 =-.

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

    • Anne

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

  • 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

      Thanks. Can I put them on my fridge?

  • 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: https://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 =-.

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