December 26, 2001
The 5-A-Day Query Plan By Christina Spence-Maharajh | printable version
Maybe I'm paranoid, or maybe it's good old common sense. Regardless of the reasoning, the other day I decided it was time to start taking a daily multi-vitamin. The one thing I noticed was that each box stressed the importance of taking one of these pills each and every day. Maybe the manufacturer just wanted to sell more products. But being an optimist, I believed it really did make sense to take one of these pills on a daily basis to keep physically healthy. It reminded me of how important - no, vital - it is for writers to keep their 'writing health' in check. The only way to do so is with daily queries.
We all eat junk food. And, we generally realize that it isn't the best food for us, but we tend to keep eating it anyway. Similarly, we all too often get into a 'junk food' mentality when it comes to our writing. Instead of boosting our writing health with good habits, we may get lazy and stick to the tried and true methods we've used for far too long. What we may need is a daily boost to shake things up.
The 5-A-Day Query plan just might change your writing career forever. At first, it'll be an adjustment. It requires a great deal of dedication and determination to fit these queries into your daily schedule. And, just as you occasionally miss a multivitamin, you may have days when you just can't send out any queries. But, get into the habit of sending 5 queries most days, and your writing vitality will be greatly improved. Here are the steps I've used ever since I began my freelance writing career, to improve my chances of making the sale.
The 5 Steps to the 5-A-Day Plan
1. Markets. Find as many markets as humanly possible. This means searching online, buying books about writing markets, networking with other writers for new ideas, joining newsletters, and more. Don't limit yourself. Try a wide range of different types of markets such as ezines, newsletters and websites, along with traditional markets like magazines and newspapers.
2. Get Organized. Doing this before you get started will make the process much easier. Maybe you prefer an electronic organizer. Or, maybe you like a good old notebook and pen. Whatever works for you will help you get work. Include an always-updated listing of markets, a daily tally sheet of queries sent, a brainstorming section for new ideas and whatever else YOU need to keep and stay organized.
3. Finding the Time. I don't have to tell you that you're busy. You know that quite well yourself. But, to utilize the 5-A-Day plan, you'll need to find some time to send these queries. So, when can you spare an hour or two every day? It might mean giving up a couple of your favorite television shows - but that's what VCR's are for anyway. Do you work best first thing in the morning? Or, are you a night owl who stays up until the wee hours typing away like a maniac? Allot a time every day for your queries, and stick to it.
4. Develop an EXCELLENT Query Letter. Sending out queries everyday won't do much good if your letter doesn't excite the editors. Look at it from their perspective - if you can't write a decent query letter, they won't have much hope for the quality of your writing. We can all use help in polishing up our query letters, and I've found a couple of excellent sources online to help you do so:
Your query letter is your 'handshake' to the editor - it's the best way you have of introducing yourself to them. If your handshake is wimpy - a poorly written query letter - their first impression will be a negative one. But, if your handshake is firm and professional - a concise, well-written piece of work - they'll be far more interested in working with you. Take the time to develop a good query letter.
5. Walk the Walk. My husband has a saying that I just love - "Don't talk the talk, if you can't walk the walk." Meaning that it's far easier to plan, prepare and talk about all of your plans of becoming a hugely successful freelance writer, than it is to sit down and really accomplish it.
Every day make it your goal to send five queries. Some days that might mean five queries to the same editor. Other days, of course, it'll mean five separate queries to five different editors.
Get started this week, and have a new assignment before the week ends! The 5-A-Day Query Plan will help your writing career - and your bank account - soar to new and impressive heights.
Christina is a full-time freelance writer who has published in a variety of different magazines, websites, newsletters and newspapers. To purchase her full-length booklet How I Became a Published Writer in Less Than a Week, please contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org. 10% discount to subscribers of this newsletter.