Tag Archives: query

Summer Temptations

Catherineby Catherine L. Tully

It’s 74 degrees outside. I”m tempted to blow off my tweeting and blogging and go for a nice, long walk.

Anybody else been there?

Being a freelance writer takes a tremendous amount of discipline, and this is a fact that goes double in the summer months–especially if you live in a four-season climate.

The sunshine and fresh air make for a tempting playmate. So how can you stay on track and still take advantage of the weather? Here are my tips for keeping up with your workload and enjoying the best days of the year-

+ Work ahead on “iffy” days. Not every day is balmy and breezy. If it rains, or is otherwise a “so-so” day outside, do some extra work. The more work you bank on days like that, the easier it will be to take a day off if you want. So schedule some tweets on Hootsuite, write a few blog posts and finish an assignment early. You’ll thank yourself.

+ Get up earlier. I know. This one hurts. I’m trying it this summer–and so far, so good. I hate the morning, but am using it to finish off menial tasks that require precious little thinking power. Even an hour can make a difference. Answer e-mail, delete spam comments on your blog, update your social media accounts and get your invoices in order.

+ Take a working lunch. Bring your laptop to an outdoor cafe and edit some copy. Brown bag it and go to the park to brainstorm query ideas. If you are outside and working, it’s a win/win.

+ Schedule yourself. One of the benefits of freelancing is the ability to do things pretty much whenever you’d like. Even so, if you schedule your week out, you’ll probably wind up with more time to play hookie. Just sayin’. Plus, this is a good habit to get into for the rest of the year…

Do you have any tips you can share for staying on-target despite the increasingly beautiful weather? Please share!

Increase response rates by customizing your query

By Jake Poinier

Coming into the final week of gathering participants for the annual Freelance Forecast, I emailed a few creative agencies specializing in freelancers to see if they’d be willing to send the surveys to clients and/or freelancers. In all honesty, the response was underwhelming. But there was one person (from Hire-Profile in Atlanta) who responded to my query brimming with enthusiasm about sharing the survey and the results within her network.

As we spoke on the phone and traded business histories, I asked her what had made her call me back. Her answer was instructive: Basically, she gets a lot of emails from people soliciting contact names and such, but she could tell that I’d put time into reading her website and making my email personal.

It was a reminder, above all, that you can’t let expedience get in the way of tailoring your message if you have a specific objective. In my case, I wasn’t trying to solicit a freelance job from her, but rather trying to get her to take some time to spread my survey around. As you can imagine, it’s even more critical if you’re actually trying to convince someone that you’re worthy of being hired and paid to do something.

Bottom line, customizing a query isn’t just about changing the name and publication or business category. It takes an investment in understanding what the prospect values — not just what you want to tell them. There’s a place in every freelancer’s arsenal for bigger, broadcast email campaigns, but you need to know when the surgical strike is the correct approach. It requires effort to have your message stand out…and if you don’t, you might be in danger of “Garbage out, garbage in.”

Contributing blogger Jake Poinier is the owner of Boomvang Creative Group, and blogs regularly at his Dr. Freelance blog.

Query Basics: Get The Editor Curious

windowby Catherine L. Tully

Crafting a good query is all about the intrigue. If you can get the editor interested, you have a winner. So how do you do that? Make them curious. The photo here is of a window, and the way it is cropped, it makes you want to peek inside. A good query does the same thing with words…

A good query gives the editor enough to wonder what the rest would be like. Don’t sell your query short by dashing off an idea that you think might fit. Do a little work. Dress that query seductively before you send it off.

How do you get the editor curious? Give them a taste. A spoonful. Perhaps an opening line for style paired with some interesting facts. Or you can tell them something they have never heard and promise to give them more…

Create that sense of wonder for the editor and you have a far better chance of hearing a yes. It’s worth the extra effort–don’t you think?

Have You Queried Lately?



by Catherine L. Tully

“Take time to deliberate, but when the time for action arrives, stop thinking and go in.”

– Andrew Jackson

Look…I know sometimes I get a little pushy, but I also know that it is easy to hang back and not get stuff done in this career. This is a little push to get another query out the door. Many of us have a tendency to sit on them rather than send them. This can actually be the death of a query. You might miss your time window–someone else could send the exact same idea. You might start changing it around until it isn’t as good anymore. You may hang on to it until it isn’t relevant anymore…

So do your research. Polish the query. Let it sit for a day or two and re-read it. Then get it out the door…

When You Should Ignore The Guidelines


by Catherine L. Tully

Ok. Maybe you shouldn’t ignore them, but most publications put out guidelines that are meant to give the writer a general idea of what they are looking for–and what they aren’t. That said, in some ways it can pay off to ignore them, or at the very least, be ready for changes in the grand scheme of things. Now I don’t mean you shouldn’t pay attention to items such as tone and subject matter. You should. But some things can go off the map, and it helps to know what those might be. In that spirit, here are some things to think about when you query:

  • Response time. If there is anything in the guidelines that you should take with a grain of salt–this is it. Response time can mean almost anything. I have queried pubications that say they get back to you within a month, only to have them call me out of the blue four months later. You never know what is going on over there, and editors are really, really busy. Sometimes they’ll hang on to your idea and make a mental note to get back to you, only to get sidetracked by another project.
  • Word count. I never state how many words I can write on a given subject, because I prefer to let the editor tell me what he/she needs. Ad space can bump article placement up and down very easily, so the word counts can vary accordingly depending on how much room the publication has.
  • Editor’s name and contact info. If you don’t listen to anything else I’m writing here, be sure you do this one thing…double check the contact info given in the guidelines. Editors change so fast it will make your head spin. Call the publication and ask who to send a query to, and be sure to read the information back to the person that you speak with so you know you have it right.
  • Payment range. While this can give you a good idea of how much a publication will pay, it isn’t always set in stone. Sometimes the guidelines are outdated, which could mean you will make less…or more. Some mags have cut back on payment, while others are expanding. Be prepared for it to vary.

Now…even though I said the words, “ignore guidelines,” please note that you should follow what you read in terms of crafting a query. If they say that some departments are not open to freelancers, don’t send a query thinking that you can get around it. If you notice, much of what I have outlined above relates to the business end of things, not the editorial itself. If they say they don’t want personal experience articles, you aren’t likely to get in with a heartfelt account of your last camping trip to the mountains. In other words, follow direction, but be ready for bumps on the road along the way….