The Ultimate Guide to Recycling Query Letters
The best part of being a freelance writer is the freedom to build a writing career that’s wrapped around your specific goals and desires.
Since it’s a process we all take on differently, the best part of being a freelance writer is also the intimidating part.
For example, I’m still adjusting to the freelance lifestyle, so I’m very careful with how I handle sending out query letters. Especially as a new writer still building clips, I know how important queries are in making a good first impression with editors who don’t know me.
While I do research markets for each of my queries, organizing them in tiers based on their pay rate and my desire to break into each market, I’ve yet to send out simultaneous queries. This is something I plan on doing in the future, but for now I want to become more comfortable with the process, giving each pitch and the editor I send it to my full attention.
I’ve customized a query letter “production line” to help ease myself into the process, which as it turns out is also a great way to fend off what I call “rejectionitis”: that deflated feeling a writer gets when they’ve received a “thanks, but no thanks” response from an editor (or no response at all).
1. Send query letter to desired market.
Create a stellar query letter for your article idea, and send it to the editor of the magazine you most want to accept it.
2. Choose a “Plan B” market.
Choose a back-up market you’d like to submit your query letter to if your first choice doesn’t accept it.
3. Create a “Plan B” query letter.
Customize the query letter to fit your “Plan B” market. When customizing your query, use the following checklist as your guide:
- Editor’s Name
Make sure the query is addressed to the editor of the correct department.
- Market’s Tone
Some magazines have a more investigative approach, while some have a bubbly, upbeat approach. Tweak your query letter to suit the voice of your back-up market.
- Name of Department
Change the name of the department you feel your article is best suited for (if it’s different from the department name of your first choice).
You may need to change out your quotes to better reflect the voice of your back-up market, or, if you’re sending your query to a market based in a different country, change to quotes from sources in that country.
- Publication Name
If you’ve mentioned the publication name anywhere in your query, triple-check you’ve changed the name to your back-up market.
- References to Publication
If you’ve mentioned articles from past issues of the magazine, make sure to change the mentions to articles from your back-up publication.
- Revise, Revise, Revise
Do several read-throughs of your revised query letter to make sure it’s the best it can be.
- Editor’s E-mail Address
Add the new editor’s e-mail address in the “To” section of your e-mail query.
4. Save “Plan B” query letter as an e-mail draft.
If you receive a rejection from your preferred market, this makes it so that you don’t have time to react to the rejection. Simply send out your “Plan B” query and you’ll be back in anticipation mode.
5. Rinse and Repeat
Repeat the above steps with every query letter you send out, and your pitches will always be out there, patiently waiting to be accepted.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned through my transition from web designer to writer, it’s that no two writing routines are the same. We all have our own transition to create based on our lifestyle and current work schedule.
Create a routine that works best for you, and you’ll be well on your way to creating the writing career you’ve always wanted.
Do you have a unique writing routine? How is it helping to strengthen your writing skills and build your credentials?
Krissy Brady is the owner of Krissy Media Ink and a markets columnist for WOW! Women on Writing. She runs a blog for writers dedicated to keeping the passion for writing alive. Keep in touch with Krissy on Facebook and Twitter for the latest writing-related information.