3-Step Process to Writing Better Queries to Sell Your Writing Work
It seems the most challenging part of being a writer (with income desired) is selling yourself and your work in a query. For some reason, writing a query or proposal seems hard. We're not quite sure what to say or how to say it.
Writing a great story or article takes talent that can be obtained through training and practice, studying the craft, and taking it seriously. The good news is: it works the same way with a query.
Here are three steps for writing better queries*:
Step 1: Read Books and Articles
The first step to learning how to write a query is to read books and articles on how to write one. Moira Allen's The Writer's Guide to Queries, Pitches, and Proposals is a good one. The authors (usually writers, agents, publishers, and other publishing experts) will give examples of queries as well as offer commentary on why the queries worked and why they didn't. Once you have studied the rules and guidelines set by the publishing experts, move on to Step 2.
Step 2: Use Samples
Your next step is to study examples of queries and come up with your own ideas on why they work. Find sample queries on the Internet or in a writer's market guide.
When reviewing the sample queries, type one of them word for word and then note the type of information provided and how it's presented. Typing it out helps you learn how to write your own query since you're going through the process of writing one.
This technique applies to other forms of written documents as well. If you want to learn how to write a better chapter, type one out, word for word, from an existing book in your genre. If you want to write your author biography, study those of other authors, pick the style that suits you, and then type it out.
Step 3: Practice
As you read the books and study the samples, write a practice query using the information you've learned. You won't improve if you don't practice, so put your knowledge to good use through action to help improve your writing skills. Just the act of writing your own query will give you greater confidence that you can write a query that sells your story.
Keep a copy of your practice queries and the queries you send out to editors and, after a month, read through your old queries to see how much you've improved.
*This works for any written document – brochure, sales page, case study…