Learn how to write a query letter that a magazine editor can’t refuse! This sample query letter was written by Diana Burrell, and resulted in an article assigned by the editors at Parenting magazine. Burrell earned $2,000 for this freelance piece.
First, a quip for writers from Doris Lessing:
“What I did have, which others perhaps didn’t, was a capacity for sticking at it, which really is the point, not the talent at all. You have to stick at it.” – Doris Lessing.
Fellow scribes, if your first dozen query letters haven’t landed you an article assignment, don’t worry. I can almost guarantee that — if you keep learning about how to write query letters — you will earn money by writing articles! For more tips from a successful writer, click Writer’s Guide to Queries, Pitches & Proposals by Moira Allen. And, read on for her sample query letter…
An Example of a Successful Query to Parenting Magazine Editors
Says freelance writer Diana Burrell: I got this idea one day after taking a nap, awaking, and seeing A Field Guide to North American Birds on my nightstand. I could hear my son screaming to be picked up, and I thought, “Hmm, what about a field guide to tantrums?”
I’d done a couple of short pieces for Parenting, and this was my first pitch for a feature. I followed up with an in-person meeting with my editor later that spring before they actually assigned it to me — I think that meeting clinched the deal. A week later she called me with a $2000 assignment.
March 2, 2003
QUERY: A FIELD GUIDE TO YOUR CHILD’S TEMPER TANTRUMS
The first time my son melted down in public, I was clueless about how to handle the howling, wailing, thrashing alien child in my arms. At the time, my son Oliver was just about a year old, normally a calm and placid toddler whose tears were quick to dry. He’d just started walking and was keen to explore the world from his new vantage point. So when I picked him up from the Thomas the Tank Engine play area at our local bookstore, I learned that the status quo had changed on me, seemingly overnight. Oliver turned into a child I’d never seen before, the likeness of someone else’s child. He sobbed, shrieked, and even hurled a toy at a customer standing near us. Other customers gaped at the unruly scene we two made — the red-faced, pleading mom and the out-of-control kid, the enfants terribles of bookstores everywhere. A few offered sympathetic smiles as I grasped for every parenting trick I could think of to get the calm, placid boy I’d entered the store with back into my arms.
I wish I could report that I landed on the technique that ended this tantrum quickly and prevented any future outbursts from ever happening again. If anything, my son has eagerly embraced this new way of expressing himself, both at home and in public. What I have learned, however, is that there’s no such thing as a typical temper tantrum. Because of this, a parent quickly has to identify the species of tantrum she’s dealing with and use the temper-taming techniques that are appropriate for that animal.
That’s why I’m proposing “A Field Guide to Your Child’s Temper Tantrums,” which will give PARENTING readers an overview of the most common species of temper tantrums and tips on how to tame them. Some of the species I’ll include are “The Bedtime Beast,” “The Overstimulated Ogre,” and “The Flailing Frustrated.” Under each species of tantrum, I’ll show readers how to ID the tantrum, what the triggers are for it and where it can occur, and at what age or developmental stage it usually makes its appearance. Some tantrums can look very similar, such as “The Flailing Frustrated” and “The Overstimulated Ogre,” but each will have specific techniques that parents can use to bridle the beast. For example, with “The Flailing Frustrated,” one of the handling techniques may be to help your child break down a complicated task into smaller, more manageable activities, while “The Overstimulated Ogre” may require a complete break from play. I will consult with top parenting experts and child development specialists and include their suggestions on how parents can best handle a variety of outbursts.
(Insert short bio here)
Thank you for your consideration, and I look forward to hearing from you soon.
Diana Burrell is the co-author of The Renegade Writer: A Totally Unconventional Guide to Freelance Writing Success and The Renegade Writer’s Query Letters That Rock: The Freelance Writer’s Guide to Selling More Work Faster (both with Linda Formichelli).