Friday, June 02, 2006

Good Query Etiquette

In continuing with my previous post about developing patience as a writer, I thought I'd elaborate on that with a more practical piece of advice.

Sending queries is a process. It takes a certain amount of time and effort to put together a great query that is attention-grabbing and prompts an editor to accept your idea. You may be wondering,
how should I submit my query - via email or snail mail? How long should I wait before following up? How many times should I follow up before I give up?

Once you've written a query that your ready to submit, be sure to check the publications writer's guidelines. Most of the queries I've submitted have been via email. Some publications still prefer snail mail so be sure to check it out first. You don't want a strike against your query upon arrival!

When it comes to following up on your queries, again, check the writer's guidelines. Reference books like Writer's Market often indicate the estimated response time or check the publication's website. If it states 4-6 weeks for a response, wait it out before following up. Again, this is where patience kicks in. I know it's frustrating to pour your heart into a great idea and then have to wait a month or more for an answer - but that is the reality most of the time.

So you've waited the allotted time frame and still no word from the editor. It's time to follow up. I like to follow-up the same way I sent the original query. So if I sent an email query I'll shoot the editor a short message asking about the status of my proposal and copy and paste the original letter at the bottom of my message. This way if the editor doesn't have your original letter, they have easy reference. I've often gotten pretty good responses on follow-ups. So always follow up - you may miss out on an assignment if you don't!!

If you don't get a response to your query after one or two follow-ups, move on. Always be researching other markets for your ideas. Remember patience is the writer's greatest trait and queries are a test of that quality every step of the way.

Happy Writing!

1 comment:

Mrs. Brain Bomb said...

Just wanted to let you know I found this and your previous post to be very helpful as I've just started the process of submitting work. I believe I have a strong, professional query letter: straight-forward description of story, why it's for their publication, all elements of business letter in place. What's a good resource to check out good query letters, I find many more examples of bad ones. Thanks again for your posts.