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Monday, October 7, 2013

Query Critique #2: And ConCon is Only a Month Away!

Welcome back, readers! We return to the query critique today with this submission; my comments appear in brackets in blue. 

Dear Barbara,
As a desk jockey sitting in front of the computer or in meetings all day, are you concerned about the impact of all that sitting? Are you aware of the recent studies linking sitting to an increased risk for diabetes and heart disease?  I am too. When I transitioned from being an active classroom teacher to work-from-home writer, I experienced a weight gain immediately. Because of my time flexibility, I joined a gym. However, even that may not mitigate the hours spent sitting at a desk. What about busy working mothers who find it next to impossible to squeeze time in for exercise before or after work? However, experts in workplace fitness have found ways to incorporate exercise into the typical office work day. Interested in knowing more? [I like this lead but it's a little long--I'd tighten it a bit; maybe focus on the first person anecdote and then talk about busy working mothers (the readers of this publication) in the next paragraph.] 

Two recent studies illustrate the staggering effects of a mostly sedentary lifestyle. An Australian study concluded that “an adult who spends an average of six hours a day watching TV over the course of a lifetime can expect to live 4.8 years fewer than a person who does not watch TV.” A 2012 report found that the average adult spend 50-70 percent of their lives sitting. This puts them at much increased risk for diabetes and cardiovascular disease, even if they exercise. [Explain the link between the last two sentences--it's not clear. And what is the increased risk? How much? Quantify, please. This info could also be worked into the lead instead, although I would focus on the second study, which specifically addresses the link between sitting and heart disease.] 

As fast as the scientific community reported the problems, researchers, businesses, and health practitioners responded. [I would continue with what the solutions are, and then talk about word length and working title in a bit.] My 1,500-word feature, “Taking a Stand for Workplace Fitness,” will examine the ingenious solutions to being tied to your chair during your workday. I will interview Dr. Cindy Wolff, Executive Director of the Center for Nutrition and Activity Promotion at Chico State University in California, about how she and her staff have incorporated under-desk exercise bicycles, stand-up phone calls, and walking meetings into her office’s routines [And? What's been the result? Increased productivity? Weight loss? Happier staff? What? Include.] I’ll talk to Marchfield Clinic, Wisconsin, executive assistant Pam Gotto about her experiences with an adjustable desk. She can sit or stand while she works, depending on the task and her energy level. [Again, tell us a little bit more about her experience.] I’ll also give first person reports of my attempts to incorporate these some of these techniques into my work day. I wrote this standing up. [I like this first-person anecdote here and would like to know more about how you're working while standing; again, I would include a line or two about how long you've been doing it, benefits, etc.] Dr. Wolff has agreed to offer photos from her office. A sidebar will illustrate various options for desk workouts, including desk/treadmill combinations. [I would rephrase this to say something like, "If you like, I can provide photos to accompany this story; a possible sidebar will illustrate..." I think the writer should also talk about how much these desk treadmills/bikes cost. How expensive are they? Can you build one yourself, etc?] 

As the author of six YA nonfiction books, I have ample experience explaining scientific and technical concepts to a non-technical audience. My editors at Rosen Publishing have complimented me on my professionalism and responsiveness. Clips from my books Top 10 Tips for Enjoying Success in School and Get Smart with Your Money: Internship Smarts are attached (yes, I can provide articles on those topics as well!) [Nice. The writer doesn't have typical clips, but she's made up for it and "dance with who brung her," so to speak to pump up her ISG.] I have been a working mom for over 25 years, always looking for ways to balance career, parenting, and health. All of us who sit for a living can benefit from knowledge of the detrimental effects of this lifestyle and practical ways to counteract the effects. [Good, though I would still like to see that magic language, "based on my personal experience, I believe I can bring a unique perspective to this subject" or something like that. Also tell me what section of the mag it belongs in to demonstrate familiarity with your target market. Finally, I think 1,500 words is a little long for this subject; I'd pitch it as a shorter piece, maybe 800-1000 words or so.] I look forward to your response to this timely and important topic.

[Readers, what do you think? Agree with my critique? I welcome your comments below.]  

Readers, do you do content marketing? Would you like to? Check out ASJA's ConCon conference here in Chicago November 7-8, 2013 at Columbia College. It's for writers who are new to this niche--and those who already do content marketing and want to make even more money doing so. I hope to see you there! 

And as usual, I remind you about my books which are invaluable to both newbie and experienced freelancers: Dollars and Deadlines: Make Money Writing Articles for Print and Online Markets and Six-Figure Freelancing: The Writer's Guide to Making More Money, Second Edition. Prefer a print copy? Use the coupon code IMPROVISEPRESS (all caps,no spaces) for 20 percent off when you order directly through


  1. I totally agree with your comments, Kelly, except for me that "I wrote this standing up" sentence felt a bit jarring where it was; I'd move it up to that lead where she says "I am too" and make it "I am too—which is why I wrote this standing up."

    1. Really good comment, Melissa--you're right about it being a bit abrupt. I like your suggestion--nice job! :)