How to Write a Query Letter

Many writers begin their publishing career by writing magazine articles. But how do you get your article in a magazine? Write a query letter. Similar to a book proposal, a query letter sells the idea of your article to editors. It is a simple tool used to find a suitable publishing location for your writing.


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    Know your target publication. Choose a publication that matches the content and style of your article. You aren't likely to see an article about making your own fishing lures in a fitness magazine; rather, that topic it would probably be better aimed at an outdoor living magazine.
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    Ensure the article meets any and all writing guidelines for the publication. Look up the guideline submissions either in the magazine itself, or on the magazine's website, if it exists. If all else fails, contact the magazine and ask for a copy of their submission guidelines.
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    Decide if a query letter is appropriate. Think about whether writing a query letter is the best way to introduce your work to your chosen publication. This will depend on the kind of writing piece you are promoting and the type of publication you have targeted.
    • A query letter should be one page in length. If your query is going to be longer than the actual article, it may be better to send in the actual article instead.
    • For personal opinion, editorial or humor articles, it may be better to send the complete article, as an editor is often more interested in a writer's style than the actual content.[1]
    • Some editors may actually prefer to receive an email query rather than a snail-mail letter, especially if the magazine publishes a lot of the content online.
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    Address the letter to the appropriate person. Use the full name of the proper editor. If you need to, call the publication to determine whom you should write to. Magazines often have the editor names and departments listed on the masthead page, or on their website.
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    Present your article idea. Grab the editor's attention with a lead-in about your article. Mention a proposed title, expected length, and what section of the publication the article fits into.
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    Flesh out your idea. Detail exactly what will, and possibly will not, be covered in the article. If you intend to include sidebars or pictures, mention what they are and where they will go.
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    Present your credentials. Detail some relevant information about yourself and your credentials for writing on this topic. This can include previous articles you have written, personal or professional experience, or volunteer experience. Include short clips of other published articles you have written on the topic.
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    Conclude your proposal by expressing your thanks for considering your idea. Mention that you have enclosed a SASE (self-addressed stamped envelope) for their convenience in replying.
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    Proofread your proposal carefully. A query letter riddled with spelling and grammatical errors will give the impression that your actual article will require a lot of editing, and will likely result in a standard rejection letter.
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    Follow up if you do not receive a response. Check to see if the submission guidelines provide an estimate of the average response time, and then wait an additional week or two. You can either follow-up with another letter (be sure to reference your original letter), or a brief phone call.


  • A good query letter may result in a solicitation for articles in the future, even if your current idea is rejected.
  • Remember to include a SASE with your proposal, as many companies will not reply otherwise.

Things You'll Need

  • Internet access
  • List of relevant publications
  • Article
  • Envelope (SASE - self addressed and stamped)

Article Info

Categories: Publishing