Components of a Successful Newspaper Query Letter

Newspaper Query Letter
Freelance careers are on the rise, especially for writers. Many writers prefer to spread their articles around to different publications in different media instead of writing for just one type of industry.

The query letter is one of the most important tools freelance writers have at their disposal. Because freelance writers are not full-time employees of a particular newspaper, they must utilize a query letter to: 1) convince the editor that their idea is a good one; 2) it will benefit the newspaper itself; and 3) they are capable of carrying it out.

Each query letter will vary based on the newspaper and proposed article itself, but you can spot five essential components that almost every successful newspaper query letter will have.

1. An Eye-Grabbing Introduction

An Eye-Grabbing Introduction
Like in almost every professional job introduction, first impressions are vital when proposing a newspaper article. The introduction of a query letter must draw the editor in right away. Editors are constantly working through a heavy workload, including sifting through stacks of query letters, so it is vital to grab their attention before they lose interest.

introduction of the query letter
2. A Concise Summary of Your Article

After the editor is drawn in by the introduction of the query letter, he or she will want to know what this idea is all about. The summary of your article should include a captivating title and a short paragraph highlighting some of the article's key points.

The Purpose of Your Article
3. The Purpose of Your Article

Editors often have the benefit of choosing from several interesting ideas. That is not enough, however. Before approving an article for publication, they need to be sure this particular article will benefit both their newspaper and their readers. They do not want an article that will just regurgitate current events that have already been covered, just with different words. What they really want is a writer who will bring a completely new perspective to their readers and their publication.

Your Qualifications
4. Your Qualifications, Experience, and Anything Else That Shows Why You Are Capable 

A good idea is not enough. The newspaper wants to know that you can carry out the idea and that the final product will be worthwhile. Why should the editor have faith that you will deliver an outstanding article? Have you successfully completed projects like this in the past? Do you have a degree in a related field of study that will aid you in your research and writing? Do you have any references or noteworthy awards?

How to interest the editor
5. A Closing Paragraph That Leaves the Editor Interested

While your query letter needs to include enough information to convince the editor that you know what you are doing, it is also important to leave the editor wanting more. The key is to limit the details, but to give the editor confidence that you have a firm grasp on the topic. Sum up your thoughts, thank the editor for his time, and let him know one last time that your idea is, in fact, a good one.

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Brian Scott