If you’re like me when have an idea and start thinking about a query, you first jot down the idea. Then, as you start to actually write the query you think about yourself and what you want to say and what will happen if your query is successful.
In other words, you move away from the idea and into what you need or want to accomplish, totally forgetting the reader or the editor. It’s only natural.
When your thinking goes very far down that road, however, it’s awfully easy to get stuck in not knowing what to write or what to say. Or to have you’re writing stiffen up because you think of editors in all capital letters .
I’ve said it before. Editors are people too. Which means you can actually begin to understand who they are and what they need by pretending.
Make believe you’re the editor
One way to open up the creative flow again is to pretend you are the editor receiving the query.
Yes, you can pretend you’re an editor even if you’ve never been or or even met one. Use your imagination!
You’ve already read the magazine or studied the book catalog, right? Ask yourself questions like:
If you’d been the editor why would you have accepted a particular article?
How do you think it serves the readers of your magazine?
Why do you like the information and the tone?
Play with the idea of being an editor. Get into the role. Now:
What would you like to read in a query?
What do you (as the editor) care about?
Are you more interested in the writer’s credits or the way the idea she’s proposing is expressed in the query?
How can you make your query crystal clear and written in the style of the publication you want to write for?
Pretend your an editor who has two lines ringing, and you need to leave for an appointment in about 10 seconds and if you don’t at least glance at this query you’ll never look at it.
What can you write that will catch that editors attention? The opening of the article you’re proposing perhaps? That’s more a grabber than some intro paragraph about you don’t you think?
Get over yourself
The goal, of course, is to get over yourself, at least a little bit. Understand that as a writer your job is to write something an editor can use. Editors aren’t interested in writers for any other reason than they can help the editor solve their problems of filling their magazine every month or finding the next book to publish.
You’ve got some skill at writing – step out of yourself and see what you’re proposing from the other side, the editor’s side. It will help you do the very best job you can and increase your chances of success.
What are your secrets for successful queries?