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Thursday, July 19, 2007

Example Magazine Query Letter

I got great news this morning from Fiery-Foods & BBQ Magazine. They will be publishing my article on the horseradish festival (I don't know when, yet) in both the print and online versions which means more money. Yeah!

To say thanks to everyone for the help on my book synopsis, I'm posting the query letter that got me the assignment with Fiery-Foods. I wrote comments in italics about what I was trying to do with each section of the query.

Dave DeWitt, Editor
Fiery-Foods & BBQ Magazine

Dear Mr. DeWitt,

It’s only taken about 20,000 years to create the perfect place to grow horseradish. What’s the recipe? Take one slow moving glacier from 23,000 B.C., add cold winters, long summers, and potash rich soil, and you get the American Bottoms of southern Illinois. This area grows 60% of the world’s sinus singeing horseradish for everything from cocktail sauce to your favorite Bloody Mary mix.

I try to make my opening paragraph sound like a sample lead for the article to get their attention.

I’ll be visiting Collinsville, Illinois, the horseradish capital of the world, for the International Horseradish Festival on June 9-10, 2007, and I’d like to cover this event for Fiery-Foods & BBQ Magazine. Collinsville is also my hometown, and I’m well acquainted with the phenomenal fire and earthy flavor of horseradish.

This is just a basic description of the event, but I also wanted to show I know the subject, so I mentioned Collinsville is also my hometown.

A member of the mustard family, it can be traced as far back as ancient Egypt. The oracle of Delphi declared horseradish “worth its weight in gold.” It flirts with the taste buds in drinks like ale and vodka and fires up sauces, seafood and dips. Its heat can be adjusted to suit any use, and I won’t touch prime rib without it. As Dagwood said to Blondie, “My kingdom for some horseradish.”

In this paragraph, I wanted to show I could include some interesting facts about horseradish for their readers.

Possible Article Outline:
A brief horseradish history, the festival events, festival recipes from the annual contest, interviews with festival organizers and lovers of horseradish, and photographs of: the Horseradish Root Toss contest, the Bloody Mary contest, Horseradish Recipe contest, foods of the festival, and the giant inflatable horseradish root.

Possible Titles: Pish Posh Potash – What Makes Great Horseradish?
Small Illinois Town Celebrates Hot Horseradish Flavor
Not Your Father’s Spicy Mustard – Horseradish

Danita Allen Wood, the Missouri Life editor-in-chief, said to outline what might be in the article and provide some possible titles and/or subheads. The more work we do for them, the less work they have to do, and the better they like the query.

I included what pictures I could provide, and this helped sell the article. When Mr. DeWitt replied, he mentioned he was looking forward to the picture of the giant inflatable horseradish root. Good visuals can really help sell an article, so mention some picture ideas too.

I am a freelance writer and college English instructor from Wentzville, MO. I’ve been published in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Suburban Journal, and I have an article coming out in the December issue of Missouri Life Magazine. I would love to share my fiery passion for horseradish with your readers.

I wrapped up here with my bio and pasted the clip of my travel article from the Suburban Journal article into the email with this query. Most places don't like attachments, so I usually include clips in the actual email.


Tricia Grissom


Tricia Sanders said...

Great letter. Thanks for sharing. I'm trying to get mine put together, so we'll see how it goes.

zeldadg said...

I'd love to read it when you get done.

Tricia G.

Unknown said...

Thanks so much for posting your query letter and the explanation for what you wrote. It's wonderful that your article will appear in print and online.

And for glasshut - ditto to what Zelda wrote.

Christi said...

Thanks for sharing... This is wonderful, and even 4 years later - still very informative!!

Lucy said...

Thanks for sharing. Congrats on your success. Even 4 years later, this article is informative and helpful to us newbie freelancers.

Unknown said...

Thanks for sharing your experience! I was just looking at resources on how to submit to literary magazines and this was one of the most helpful ones. I recently went through the experience of researching and contacting literary magazines and decided to put together a comprehensive list of top literary magazines, searchable by genre, to make the process a bit easier for other writers. Would love to have your thoughts on it: