Thursday, May 31, 2007

Crafting a Query

I saw your "Just Do It" article in WOMAN'S DAY yesterday. I've never seen that format, why you resist/why we insist in a self help article. Have I just overlooked it or did you or the WD editor come up with it? Since this magazine is so readily available, I think it would help your blog readers to read the article and also read the query you sent for it. (You've posted queries before, but we didn't have the matching article). Would that be possible?

Unfortunately, I searched my old email files and can't find this exact pitch, but I can give you an idea of what it looked like and how it came to fruition.

To answer your initial question, no, this isn't a standard format, this is how you land a story...but taking a generic topic, in this case, things that we all put off (which women's magazines cover endlessly), and spinning it into a clever package. For those who haven't seen the article, each thing that we might procrastinate (i.e, eating more fiber), is broken down like this:

Why You Resist Doing It: blah blah blah
Why We Insist On Doing it: blah blah health advice blah blah

Here's how I came up with it: I know that my editor at Woman's Day likes "fresh" spins on ideas. The magazine isn't going to cover crazy, outlandish topics. Rather, their audience likes good, smart advice on day-to-day, evergreen subjects, but they like it given to them with an interesting tweak. that end, I thought of the idea of "things that we all put off." But if I'd written my editor an email saying, "let's cover a story about things that we all put off," she'd have said, "snoozefest." Because there's nothing snappy or interesting about that subject, at least when you look at it superficially. So what I did instead was come up with crafty packaging: i.e, the resist/insist angle. See how I pitch the exact same subject matter but make it 100x more interesting by adding in the resist/insist suggestion?

For the actual pitch, I simply put together two or three topics that we later went on to include in the article - I can't remember what they were, but probably something like having more sex, making time for workouts, etc. I showed my editor how the article would break down, and then offered a list of other topics we could include and voila...story assigned.

Readers, how do you come up with unique pitches that you go on to land?

FYI: tomorrow, I'll be at BEA (Book Expo America), signing books and meeting and greeting. Will be back on Monday to report the scoop!

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

I'm Back!

Hope everyone had a wonderful holiday weekend! I, for one, went to a wedding in Calistoga, CA and then on to San Francisco (SFians - you can find signed copies of TDLF at Borders!), which was fabulous, albeit a really long trip. But we relaxed and caught up on sleep and ate way too much and drank wine, and all in all, it was great, though I did miss the kids (and hate toting my pump everywhere!). Anyhoo, back to reality today. we go.

I have my first national byline! Question for you is if I'm supposed to send my editor a note or a gift or anything??

Congrats!!! There are few things more exciting than seeing your name in print for one of the first times. Enjoy the thrill.

No, no presents - a well-written article is present enough for your editor! :) Instead, send her a note thanking her for the assignment, saying it was a pleasure to work for her, and pitch her another ass-kicking idea asap. Successful freelancing is all about relationship-building, and the two ways to do this are 1) to be gracious and easy to work with and 2) to make yourself invaluable to an editor by suggesting great ideas and following up with great stories. You might not land another assignment right away from this editor, but don't be discouraged...after all, this editor already knows that you can deliver...keep pitching and eventually, another assignment should come in.

Readers, how do you follow up to a new-to-you editor?