Hi everyone! Time for another update with hopefully helpful suggestions for those thinking of querying us about an article that we might like to buy for our magazine.
Number one, (although if you are reading this you are probably not the audience we are wishing would learn this) please, please, please read the magazine you are considering for your query. We have lost track of the number of queries we get that ask questions such as "what kind of articles are you looking for?" Such queries will never be successful at any publication. These happen, we believe, because writers find our name at third party web sites that feature "writer's markets" and so on. These are very valuable sites for initial information. But before you fire off that query to any site, make sure you visit that site, and see what they publish and read any submission guidelines you find there. This will keep you from wasting your valuable time and effort (and to be honest, ours too.)
Secondly, don't "bury the lede." We recently received a very nice communication the other day that maundered in a leisurely fashion through a number of topics, before, in the last paragraph, actually stating what the writer was thinking of querying, which was actually a reasonable thing to query us on. However, it was by sheer good luck that we were not in too much of a hurry to read the whole letter and respond appropriately.
And finally, for this update, if you want to query a magazine, have an article that you are offering. Nobody is going to buy an article sight unseen from a random emailer, so there is no point in offering to write one if we pay you ahead of time. We also get a number of queries from people who do not seem to be sure they are going to write an article, but might do so someday. Better to try and write an article first and see how that goes, before you contact any magazines.
Whew. Now we feel better. File this under venting...and also hopefully if someone was making the mistakes above and wondering why they weren't getting very far in their writing career, perhaps this was helpful.