The following query letter (with edits) was eventually picked up by a mid-sized trade magazine. The pitch to the magazine was successful for several reasons (enumerated below) and resulted in a decent trade magazine clip and a solid rate of pay from the publication. Although identifying information has been removed or changed, new writers can use this example query letter to gather hints and tips on the format and elements of the perfect pitch to an editor. The actual pitch is in regular font with directional comments in bold italics.
Mr. Editors Name
Magazine Title or Publishing Company
City, ST 77777
Notice that the query is directly addressed to a specific editor. This writer has done their pitching research and researched the publication's editorial staff. This is often appreciated and noted by the magazine.
May 13, 2007
In November 2006, Rudolfo Maestro, the son of Mexican immigrant parents, and a teacher within the urban school district of SampleCity, Minnesota, was one of just 50 teachers nationwide to receive the prestigious Sample Educators Award. As I'm sure you may know, the Sample Awards have been called "the Academy Awards of Teaching," and come with a purse of $100,000- no strings attached.
With the mass exodus of many Caucasian, middle class students from urban districts like SampleCity, MN, the honor is quite an achievement for this young, 9- year veteran teacher. Add to that the fact that Mr. Maestro was raised and educated in the very same district where he now teaches, and the human-interest appeal is even greater.
Note that the opening paragraphs of this query grab the editor's attention by relating potential article content, and some possible human interest slants. Doing the editor's homework and brainstorming for them is a great idea and may help you get published! In addition, the noted award shows that the article and the query within it have a timely current event status for this quarterly trade publication.
I propose a 2,000-word interview article with nationally recognized educator Rudolfo Maestro, focusing on the teacher's role within school districts that are slowly becoming re-segregated. How does this teacher, himself a minority, promote racial harmony and social justice within the "microcosm" of his classroom? What challenges has he faced in his short teaching tenure? What can other educators and social activists learn from his work?
This paragraph demonstrates an excellent sell and even more of a potential story slant for the editor. The proposal is clear, with sample questions and relevant angles laid out.
Since his award, Mr. Maestro had been interviewed for various publications, including a profile in This Sample Newspaper, an article in a Some Title Magazine, and a Q and A in a SomeName Trade Publication, but he has agreed to grant me an exclusive interview on this particular angle in relation to his award.
The last line above is the key to the question of why the editor should agree to work with this particular writer. It also demonstrates that the writer has done their research and already been in contact with the potential subject. Editors like this- it shows you are serious, have thought your pitch through, and can deliver the promised article and expert.
The personality of this educator is of great magnitude. As an interviewer, I've found him to be gregarious, talkative and very forthcoming. I am positive I can convey this personality into an article, and that other teachers, both minority and otherwise, will be able to take a little piece of his practice from this article.
I could have a rough draft to you within three weeks of acceptance. I anticipate a question and answer format, but am flexible based on Your Magazine's needs.
I also ask that you take a look at my resume, attached. I am an experienced editor, writer and proofreader, with cognate education in Teacher Preparation, making me knowledgeable in this subject field. I am currently working for Sample City's Sample Magazine. My past clips include NameIt Clip, SomeName Clip and ThisName Clip.
This last paragraph is also key, and tells the editor why he should work with this particular writer. New writers can substitute other experiences here, including full time work or volunteer service. What is most important is to tell the editor why you, in particular, can handle this assignment. Proposing some delivery terms (such as due date and amount of words) doesn't hurt either, and will show the editor that you have some experience and insight into writing for magazines.
Thank you for this opportunity.
Yours in writing,
Although the order and layout of a pitch letter may vary by writer, the general elements should be covered. Learn more about how to write a pitch with this step by step guide.