They’re only a couple of paragraphs. What’s the big deal? I’ve written books and screenplays, what’s the big deal about a single page of text? It’s a make or break introduction to someone who can hire you and give you money in exchange for your writing. No biggie.
In a couple of paragraphs you need to prove you can write (and write well–that’s the clincher!), explain your article and why it’s a great fit for their publication,and why they’re readers will enjoy it. Last but certainly not least you need to explain why you’re the perfect person to write this article and why they should use you.
My query letters either sound like, “Please take this article! You don’t understand, I need this” or “Dear Receiver of this Letter”, very impersonal and robotic. Part of my problem this time around (my excuse and I’m sticking to it) was I’m very passionate about this article. I wrote an article about Ajiri Tea Company and Foundation. It’s an inspiring story with a heartwarming cause that needs as much attention as possible. Some drafts of the query letter sounded like “If you don’t take this article, you’re obviously a heartless conservative” or I tried to pour the entire article into the query. There’s so much information. I know they’ll like the subject and I know their readers will like the subject. I want to get Ajiri as much attention as possible so they can continue on their quest.
I always think it’s funny how query letters hang me up. I put so much weight on them. At least I don’t take them lightly. I feel if you screw up the query letter, they won’t look at the article. Oh well. We’ll see. I launched my first of many today so we’ll see how it goes.