Part 4 of Query Letters That Work!
mini-course continued . . .
What to Do if You’ve Never Been Published and Don’t have Writing Credentials
So far in the Query Letters That Work! Mini-Course, we’ve explored:
- The Purpose of the Query Letter
- Key Components of Query Letters That Work Parts One and Two
- Key Traits and Characteristics of Winning Query Letters
Whether you have published pieces or not, you should always approach writing your query letter as if it’s the one and only thing standing between you and publishing success. Quite often, it is!
Now, let’s talk about what you can do to make your query letter work even if you’re brand new to publishing and don’t yet have published clips you can share or writing credentials to include in your letter.
Yes, the competition is fierce, but it may not be as hard as you think. Now more than ever, the doors to becoming a published writer are wider and easier to walk through. But!… right along with the increase in opportunities, the competition has grown increasingly large, as well. That’s just it though… the competition you are facing is more about the number of people you are competing against than it is about published writers with credentials beating you to the punch.
Don’t get me wrong; there are a lot of accomplished, published writers out there. But, they are mostly dominating in certain arenas; publishing in the bigger publications. To snag your first publishing credits, you’ll want to start with the smaller publications and this is where your topic and writing can help you get noticed over other writers seeking first time publication.
The best way to establish yourself and get that first publishing credit under your belt is to pitch a topic you have some background experience with or for which you have some qualifications.
Taking another look at my swine flu article query from earlier in the course, as an example:
“As a Nurse Practitioner, I am exposed to and work with flu sufferers on a regular basis. Every year, for the past four years, I have helped educate our local community about the various types of flu and ways to protect themselves throughout the flu season. This season alone I have personally assisted in the treatment of three patients who contracted swine flu.
Please find enclosed two clips; one from Healthy Peeps Magazine and the other, a local news article I recently wrote on regional flu statistics.”
Strip away the writing credentials found in the second paragraph and, as you can see, our Nurse Practitioner still has some viable qualifications and experience for pitching this particular topic. Because of this, she is much more likely to be taken in to serious consideration than someone with no relevant background just pitching the topic blind.
Tie your topic in with some related background or qualifications and you can show your potential writing abilities through your query letter itself. This combination of topic related experience and effective writing skills are a great way to break in to the world of publishing and snag that first published writing credential.
Chances are you are already reading publications that cover topics you can relate to. So, begin to think about why you relate to those topics; what in your background or past draws you to that particular topic. Do this and you just might find you have some relatable experience that you can draw from to write about.
Another way is simply to list your skills, training, and volunteer and job experiences. Then, start brainstorming on some ideas for articles.
Everyone has skills and experience in something! So, just take your time and give yourself a good thorough background assessment. Stretch yourself; you’ll be surprised at just how many things you have experience with and have accomplished in your life!
If you’re still having a tough time, here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Did you ever babysit?
- Are you a parent?
- Do you have, or have you had, pets?
- What was your first job?
- Are you married?
- Do you budget your household?
- Are you always critiquing the books you read; the movies you see?
- Have you taught a teenager how to drive?
- Are your friends always coming to you for advice?
As you can see, you can find experience just about anywhere. During the process of self-discovery, don’t limit yourself. List everything. Afterward, once you have it all down, you can go through it, choose the strongest and most comprehensive and fine tune it.
Once you’ve documented your experience and qualifications, start looking for publications whose subject matter and audience relate to your background. Start with smaller, less known publications and work your way up. By the time you get to the “big boys”, you should have a few writing credits under your belt with clips you can include in your new query letters.
Don’t forget to share your publishing successes with Writers Bra! I do post about our members! You can send your publishing announcements to:
email@example.com subject: ballyhoo
Stay tuned . . .
STILL TO COME IN THE QUERY LETTERS THAT WORK! MINI-COURSE:
- A Word to the Wise: Important Do’s and Don’ts – Tips and Warnings
- Sample Query Letters
- Final Thoughts: Bringing It All Together & Things to Remember
Plus! I’ve added a topic:
- A Few Key Differences When Querying to Publish Your Book
I can’t wait to receive the news at firstname.lastname@example.org all about your publishing successes!
Keep Writing! xxoo