Contrary to what you may have heard or been led to believe, query letters or pitches are not about getting assignments. They’re about building relationships.
And it is those relationships that lead to ongoing, long-term work.
When you change the way you think about queries, you enable yourself to consider them a long-term marketing tool instead of a short-term way to get a single assignment. Most writers, and indeed, most editors, do not like one-off assignments.
Creating a relationship with a writer, showing them the way a publication works, getting them through all the hoops and paperwork of contracts and accounting is a time-consuming process and takes additional time for each new freelancer. So if an editor can continue hiring the same freelancer repeatedly, they have every reason to do so.
Queries are nothing but conversation starters. Most writers will think of a successful pitch as something that results in an assignment, but in fact, successful pitches do two things:
- They give the editor an idea of who you are, what you do, and how you could fit into her publication, and
- it elicits a response, no matter what the response is.
When you’re approaching editors who aren’t familiar with either you or your work, your query letter is all they have to judge you by. It’s not simply about assignments, it’s about building relationships. And no editor wants to start a relationship with a writer who can’t write and has no good ideas.
The goal of your query letter then, is not simply to land an assignment, but to showcase your skill in both expressing ideas and coming up with good ones.
And by doing that is how you’ll build a long-term freelance career.
And of course, if you want my help, you can find out more about that here.