Nothing is guaranteed in life. Even a perfect query letter does not guarantee an assignment. But if you following the 10 steps outlined in this book, you will stand a much better chance of 132-cinema producing a professional query letter that gets read and gets cinema Zeitschrift.
Note: To avoid cumbersome writing such as he/she and his/her, I have taken the liberty to refer to an editor as a ‘she’.
Step 1: Get the name right
When you receive a letter addressing you as ‘Dear Customer’ or ‘Dear Home Owner’, do you feel the letter is talking to you directly?
It reads like junk mail that has been sent to millions of other people, doesn’t it? If you send an editor a letter addressing her as ‘Dear Editor’ or ‘Dear Sir / Madam’, she will get the impression that not much time and effort has gone into the query, and she’d be right.
If there’s one thing all freelance writers should know, it is that your article must be targeted specifically for a particular magazine. In order for your article to fit in with the style and tone of the magazine, the editor will expect you to have read a few issues of the publication.
A query letter beginning with ‘Dear Sir’ tells the editor that you have not taken the time to research the publication. If you haven’t read the magazine, you won’t know anything about the audience. And if you don’t know who the audience is, how can the editor trust you to deliver an article that is suited to the magazine? So, if you only do one thing to make your query stand a better chance of success, get the editor’s name.
Larger publications often have different editors for different sections, and it’s important to send your query to the right person. When a features editor receives a short story, she may not have the time or inclination to forward it to the short story editor, and your query will be unread. So take some time to find out if you need to send your query to somebody other than the main editor. You can usually find all the information you need in the masthead.
If you don’t want to spend money buying every magazine you want to write for, go to a large newsagent or the library and look up the names there at leisure. Another way is to ring up the editorial office and ask the secretary.
Bear in mind that magazine personnel changes regularly, so check that the name is still valid every time you send a query letter.
Make sure you spell the editor’s name correctly. Some editors are mad about having their names spelt wrong. Besides, if you can’t get the details of her name right, why should she trust you to get the details of the article right?
It is acceptable to address the editor simply as ‘Dear John Doe’ or ‘Dear Jane Doe’ rather than ‘Dear Mr Doe’ or ‘Dear Ms Doe’. Nowadays it’s not always possible to tell someone’s gender by his or her name. In the case of women editor, it is particularly difficult to ascertain if she is a Miss, Ms or Mrs.