Write an Article Query Letter: Nonfiction Writing Prompt #8

Write query letters to get magazine assigmentsIf you plan to write an article for any type of publication, you must send in a query letter. This represents the first step to landing a paid writing assignment. A query letter introduces you and your idea to a magazine, or publication editor.

In college, my magazine journalism professors all taught me the same thing: Don’t ever write a word without knowing you will get paid. That’s what querying is all about—you submitting an article idea and asking to be paid to write that story for the publication.

You might have many article ideas. That’s fabulous. Write them all down, research the markets for those ideas, and then pitch them using a query letter. When you get an acceptance, write the story. If you get a rejection, send the query out to another publication (or revamp it to make it better, and then send it out again). Do this repeatedly and often and you will find yourself a busy freelance writer.

Some writers like to write first and query second. Some send the article to magazines with a cover letter. These are not the most professional ways to approach publication editors, unless you have written an essay. Sometimes sending an essay with a cover letter will work, but even then a query is better.

Earlier this month I provided a nonfiction writing prompt that asked you to develop an article idea and pitch it.  I didn’t give you much information on how to do that. This past week, however, I wrote a post called How to Write a Query Letter for Magazines and Other Publications that offers you all the details you need to write a query letter.

Nonfiction Writing Prompt #8: Write an Article Query Letter

If you haven’t done it already, or even if you have, take one of your article ideas and write a query letter for a specific publication. Be sure to angle the story idea for that publication and its readership.

When you are done, send the query out!<

This should leave you feeling energized. So, write another query for another article idea. Then write another!

Before you know it, you’ll have many messages in your email box or snail-mail box from editors asking for your work.

Tell me below in a comment what you discovered as you completed this prompt.

NonfictionWritersUniv300For more information on how to find the best market for your article, as well as how to write and send a query letter to a magazine editor, receive this month’s Nonfiction Writers’ University (NFWU) Homework Assignment when you join the NFWU. It’s chock full of tips! Plus, you’ll receive a recording of this months NFWU teleseminar “How to Start Your Freelance Writing Career” with Nina Amir. Join here at the low introductory rate! 

February NFWU Teleseminar: 2/18/14 @ 12 pm PT – How to Mind Map Your Nonfiction Book Before You Begin to Write” with Book Coach Roger Parker. Join the NFWU to reserve your spot. (Members also get recordings of the events, access to the forum, bonus products, and more…) Learn about the benefits of membership when you click here.

Photo courtesy of ddpavumba | freedigitalphotos.net


  1. I do not have a website. I have looked at two contest entry items this month from Writer’s Digest; one was what got me into your nonfiction material. I want to put my memoir piece in but cannot find a way to do so. I have to print up a form and send a check to W D because I cannot use any kind of credit card or debit cards, It must be by check or money order or no way at all. I am 70 and on a payee program which is helping me get free of a huge debt. While trying to get the form printed up I was floored. There is no way I can see how to do that. No instructions and no button to help get to the printer. I just do not know what to do. I am frustrated and upset because I really want to get something entered. I want to make a go of my writing. Help me understand this part of the situation. Please. Barbara

    • Barbara,
      Go to the Writer’s Digest blog and contact Brian Klems. Ask him if there is a way to submit without doing so online. I’m sorry you are having difficulties. Unfortunately, much of what we do these days is online. Brian might be able to help.

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