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Sunday, June 15, 2014

Make Your Query Better: Suggest a Source

The blogathon continues! Halfway through as of today. 

Want to make your query stand out? Tell the editor who you plan to interview for your article by suggesting a source or two. Here's a paragraph from a pitch I emailed to a market last week: 

“In your Mind’s Eye: Exercise’s Impact on Body Image” will report on this fascinating topic, and give readers yet one more reason to work out. I plan to interview noted psychologists like Monica Ramirez Basco, PhD, author of Never Good Enough and report on recent research for this piece; if you like, I can include several “real women” to report on their experiences as well. I estimate 1,000 words for this story but that’s flexible depending on your needs. 

See what I did there? I said that I "plan to interview" experts like Basco. By that I mean that Monica Ramirez Basco is the caliber of expert I will reach out to for the story. If I can't get Basco, I'll get someone else who's respected and nationally known. But by providing my editor with the name of the person I think would be a good source, I show him or her that I've already done some background research, and that I understand the importance of quality sources, especially when writing for a national magazine. 

If the story turned on Basco's participation--like if talking to her was essential for the story--I'd make it clear that I'd already spoken with her and had her agreement to be interviewed by me. (That's what I call the McCaughey Septuplets rule.) But for most pieces, giving an idea of the type of person you'll speak to is sufficient. 

Your assignment? Next time you send a query, make sure you suggest at least one source for the piece.  

**If you're a new freelancer, get up to speed fast with Dollars and Deadlines: Make Money Writing Articles for Print and Online Marketswhich is aimed at brand-new freelancers in search of their first clips. Six-Figure Freelancing: The Writer's Guide to Making More Money, Second Edition is a freelancing classic that helps both new and experienced writers boost their bottom line. And my latest book,Goodbye Byline, Hello Big Bucks: Make Money Ghostwriting Books, Articles, Blogs and More, Second Edition, shows how to break into the ghostwriting/content marketing field. 


  1. Hi Kelly!

    This is a good tip. I'm a master "expert" finder, but I'm always worried that the expert won't actually talk to me if I get the story and I feel like I'm doing a bit of false advertising in the query. But based on what you're saying, it's okay if I can't get that actual expert (although I should try my best) as long as I'm showing that I know my topic and I know the types of people I should contact... correct?

    1. Exactly, Shannon. When you say "experts such as TK," it tells the editor that's the caliber of person you'll reach out to. :)