Many of the more prestigious children’s magazines (and most of the YA magazines) prefer writers query instead of sending finished manuscripts. Most book publishers and agents require queries as well. Queries help (slightly) in keeping slush piles thin, and makes the editor’s job easier in some ways and more taxing in others. Queries mean editors are responding to your idea, your professionalism, your qualifications, and your scholarship instead of your finished product.
For many writers, queries are terrifying. We know we can write, but can we pitch? And a query is a kind of pitch. You are persuading an editor that your product will be superior, but you must do so with something other than your product.
Your query must convince the editor:
- you are qualified to write the story/article/book
- you have the skills to write the story/article/book
- the story/article/book will fit well in that specific magazine, specific publisher, or specific agent because you understand the desired style, tone, and the specific needs of that magazine, publisher, or agent
- the finished story/article/book is/will be special
- the finished nonfiction will be accurate
The queries that tend to grab interest quickly often have a few things in common. To find out how to increase your chances of getting your pitch picked up, listen to the full episode.