ON THE QUICK
Campbell on how to sell your article
Heres a formula
that helps make the words "query" and "quick" go together.
This method has sold 600 nationally-published articles and cuts your query
letter writing time to half an hour per letter.
FIRST PARAGRAPH: THE ACTUAL LEAD
Write the actual first paragraph of your article. Make it a traditional
lead paragraph that will draw the editor in and make him want to read
the entire article. Help the editor envision your work as a finished article
by crafting this paragraph as professionally as possible. Make it colorful,
engaging and interesting. If you need to interview an expert or person
who is the subject of your article for factual information, call and ask
for a ten-minute interview,saying that you will call again if the article
is accepted. You do not need to write any more of the actual article unless
you receive the assignment.
SECOND PARAGRAPH: THE WHY YOU SHOULD CARE PARAGRAPH
This paragraph tells why the article should be written, and which readers
will be interested in reading it. For a medical article, it might say,
"50 million women will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year."
or "Increasing numbers of people suffer from latex allergy."
Besides telling how many readers might be interested, it could also relate
why a particular topic is timely, possibly because it relates to a news
event or current trend. Alternately, this section could describe why the
article topic is unique and deserves publicity. If it is a profile of
an individual, it could include one or more sentences relating why this
person is noteworthy and famous-or unique and undiscovered.
This section can also include reasons why an article fits a particular
publication. Use a sentence such as, "I believe this article will
be right on
target for Redbooks 38 million women readers who are under 40."
If you know a
specific section of the magazine that your article will fit, mention it
Include a possible title to further help the editor envision your idea
as a finished article. "I feel this article, possibly titled, "River
Rescue" would be an excellent story for the "Real Life Drama"
section of Womans World.
When creating this paragraph, think of the query letter as a mini-article,
including as many elements of the complete article as possible, such as
a possible title, to help the editor visualize it as an article in his
THIRD PARAGRAPH: WHY YOU SHOULD BE THE WRITER
This paragraph gives reasons why the magazine should choose you to write
the story. You can mention your experience, such as, "As the author
of 300 nationally- published articles, I feel that..." Or your connections,
"I have personally interviewed Michael Jordan and feel that.... Or
your qualifications, "As the author of a finance column for twenty
years..." Or include any proximity to the subject or specialized
materials that you have. "As a master gardener for twenty years,
I have a collection of photographs." If you have published clips
to submit, mention that at the end of this paragraph--- "I appreciate
your consideration, and would be happy to submit nationally-published
ALL PURPOSE ENDING SENTENCES:
If you will send me a possible word length, (or deadline) I will be happy
to begin writing this feature immediately. I appreciate your consideration
and have enclosed an s.a.s.e.
For maximum sales potential try to keep queries to one page. Two page
sell sometimes, three-page queries almost never sell.
Remember to include as many elements of the finished article or book as
After you write a query, send batches of it out to as many potential markets
Carolyn Campbell is the author of three books, most recently, "Reunited:
Stories of Long Lost Siblings Who Find Each Other Again" (Penguin-Putnam)
© Carolyn Campbell
all rights reserved