It’s been nearly 6 years since this post was originally published — and it’s been one of my most popular ever. The need to write strong query letters has only grown in the years since, so I thought it would be a good time to put it out there again. Enjoy!–Carol
I often have freelance writers tell me they don’t think writing a query letter is worth the effort. They get a lot of rejections, and feel it’s basically a crapshoot…and so much easier to sign on to a content-mill dashboard for a guaranteed few bucks’ worth of work.
It’s true that querying isn’t a sure thing. But if you take the time to learn this skill, it can really help you move up and earn big.
I regularly get lucrative assignments off of query letters and guest post pitches, and I continue to believe querying is a vital skill for successful freelancers.
With so many writers turned off of queries, taking the time to learn how to write a compelling query letter is well worth the effort, as it makes you stand out in today’s marketplace. Querying can open doors when you don’t know anyone at a publication or company, and make a connection that could turn into an ongoing relationship.
For instance: I recently sent one query letter that got me $6,000 of assignments. And I’m reproducing it in full below.
Are your guest post pitches getting ignored?
If so, there may be some concrete things you can do to fix that. And it’s worth taking the time to figure out how to make your guest post ideas better.
Plenty of writers I know get all their freelance clients from the exposure they get guest posting on popular blogs. You can slog away posting on your own little blog named “blog” that’s living under a tab on your writer website, but few prospects ever see that.
Start guest posting for some high-traffic sites about the topics you’d like to get hired for, and all of a sudden, the calls start coming. These clients are usually impressed as heck that you’ve appeared on that big blog, and dying to hire you, in my experience.
To improve your guest-post pitches and get more posts approved, you’ve got to know how to please editors. So I asked a bunch of editors at popular sites what writers are getting wrong in their pitches.
Listen in as nine editors tell us their pet peeves. Here’s what writers are getting wrong:
Tagged with: blogging
, editor relationships
, guest post
, guest posting
But once you’ve got your book written, there’s at least one more step in the process…editing. And it’s something a lot of writers dread. Sound familiar?
So what do you do when you’ve written a book and want to make sure you’ve done your best work? You could try and self-edit, or pass off your prose to a family member or friend for free feedback. But either way fails to give you the kind of objective view you need to make the biggest impact. Both editing options are frequently plagued by bouts of frustration and procrastination, and conjure up horror stories about the editing process.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. Find an editor who is competent and affordable, and you’ll sound smarter, reduce roadblocks that could prevent you from publishing, and give your readers greater value.
Want to know how to find the right editor? Here are six ways to find the right editor for your book:
After over 15 years as a freelance writer, and many more years writing for a living as a staffer, I’ve concluded that I’m weird.
There are things other people hate that I strangely seem to like.
I’m kind of addicted to taking on seemingly impossible assignments, for instance.
That got me thinking about what it takes to be a freelance writer, personality-wise.
I asked my audience on this blog’s Facebook page, too, and got an earful.
If you’re wondering if you could make it as a freelance writer, consider whether you’ve got these 10 useful personality traits for successful freelancing:
For a while, I had a large client that hired many writers. My contact was an editor who managed the freelance staff. He was an abrupt man who spared no feelings.
At the time, I had only worked directly with clients. I could meet their goals, but my writing lacked force. I over-wrote, dismissed structure, and indulged my narcissism with unnecessary wit. I wasn’t bad, but I had that collegiate write-everything-you-can-think-of mentality.
My first experience working with a professional editor was heart-wrenching. It was a trial by fire: get better to get paid. But those lessons stuck with me and made me a better writer.
Want to improve your writing?
Avoid making the same mistakes as I did, and check out the seven hardest lessons this editor taught me:
Pleasing editors may seem difficult. But you don’t have to be confused about how to handle these tricky relationships any more.
We’ve got tips for freelance writers who want the inside line on how to become an editor’s favorite, “go-to” writer.
Many editors from consumer, trade, airline, and business magazines have shared their best tips for freelance writers in the Freelance Writers Den’s “Ask an Editor” podcasts.
We combed through the transcripts of these calls to find what makes them say “yes” to pitches. Check out these awesome tips from nine different editors to improve your pitches — and your relationships with editors: