Freelance writers face many hurdles, from earning a fair wage to finding the right places to submit their work. For the latter, it starts with a query letter, also known as a pitch. Often in the form of an email, a pitch allows you to submit an idea to an editor, gain their interest, and secure the job.
Your successful query letter should contain several essential parts.
Part 1: The Greeting and Contact
Every pitch should begin with a proper greeting addressed to a specific editor. This shows that the writer has done their research and found the publication's specific editorial staff. This is often appreciated and noted by publishers. If you're submitting a pitch online, "Dear Mr./Mrs. (editor's name)" should suffice, and you should address a written query letter as follows:
Mr. Editors Name
Magazine Title or Publishing Company
City, ST 77777
Part 2: The Hook
Grabbing the editor's attention is crucial, and it's important to communicate the subject of the article in the first paragraph. For example:
In November 20XX, Rudolfo Maestro, the son of Mexican immigrant parents, and a teacher within the urban school district of SampleCity, Minnesota, was one of just 50 teachers nationwide to receive the prestigious Sample Educators Award. As you may know, the Sample Awards have been called the "Academy Awards of Teaching," and comes with a purse of $100,000—no strings attached.
With the mass exodus of many Caucasian, middle-class students from urban districts like SampleCity, MN, the honor is quite an achievement for this young, five-year veteran teacher. Add to that the fact that Mr. Maestro was raised and educated in the very same district where he now teaches, and the human-interest appeal is even greater.
When choosing a topic, be sure to do your homework by reviewing the type of stories the publication prefers and pitch accordingly. Many magazines also publish editorial calendars, which could help you narrow the query based on what they're looking for in the months ahead.
Part 3: The Scope
The third paragraph explains the scope of your article, both in topic and length, to sell the editor on your idea:
I propose a 1,000-word interview article titled, "Promoting Racial Harmony in the Classroom," focusing on the nationally recognized educator Rudolfo Maestro, focusing on the teacher's role within school districts that are slowly becoming re-segregated. How does this teacher, himself a minority, promote racial harmony and social justice within the "microcosm" of his classroom? What challenges has he faced in his short teaching tenure? What can other educators and social activists learn from his work?
Part 4: Sources
Every article needs background information and reputable sources. The next paragraph should include where you plan to get your information and, if applicable, who you'll interview. For example:
Mr. Maestro has been interviewed for various publications, including a profile in This Sample Newspaper, an article in a Some Title Magazine, and a Q and A in a SomeName Trade Publication, and he has agreed to grant me an exclusive interview on this particular angle in relation to his award. I'll also cite Study X regarding race harmony in U.S. school districts. I could have a rough draft to you within three weeks of acceptance.
Citing your sources and setting up interviews in advance is key to the question of why the editor should agree to work with you. Doing your research and making contact with experts demonstrates that you are serious, have thought your pitch through, and can deliver the promised article and expert. The final sentence also shows initiative by presenting a clear deadline that the editor can rely on.
Part 5: About You
The closing paragraph should explain why the editor should work with you. Who are you? What are your qualifications? Have you been published elsewhere? What is most important is to tell the editor why you, in particular, can handle this assignment. Provide a bio (no more than three sentences) with links to your website, social media accounts, and recent work.
I am an experienced editor, writer, and proofreader, with education in Teacher Preparation, making me knowledgeable in this subject field. I am currently working for Sample Magazine and Sample Website. My past writing clips include NameIt Clip, SomeName Clip, and ThisName Clip.
Thank you for your time. I look forward to your feedback.
Although the order and layout of a magazine pitch letter may vary by writer, they should all contain these crucial elements. Get started by organizing your ideas, networking with experts, and working on self-promotion. The result will help you craft a pitch that editors can't refuse.