Tool 1: Identify readers’ tastes.
Analyze advertisements in several issues of the targeted publication. Content and ads reflect readers’ genders, age ranges, marital status, occupations and income levels, education, social groups, moral, political and religious outlooks; main likes and dislikes; fantasies and fears.
A food mag editor advertising classes in Tuscany with Chef Carluccio won’t salivate over a query about “Five Meals with Frozen Fish Fingers.” Editors shove potluck queries to the back burner in favor of those that satisfy readers’ tastes.
Tool 2: Get names right.
“Instead of going to the top editor, these [incorrectly addressed] queries will go to the lowest editor (the slush pile),” writes John Wood in How to Write Attention-Grabbing Query and Cover Letters (Writer’s Digest Books). Check recent editions at newsstands, bookstores, libraries and publishers’ websites for editors’ names. Find out who gets your article about home trends: the business or lifestyle editor. Track down departed editors who’d previously bought your work. Editors who trusted you before are almost as good as money in the bank for future sales.
Tool 3: Focus on readers’ concerns.
A query with “I’m a member of SCORE. I’d like to write for Small Business Magazine” is author focused and won’t hook editorial attention. A query with “Small Business Magazine readers who don’t want to be among the 80% of small businesses that fail need to know that SCORE offers business advice and workshops,” is reader focused and more likely to get an editorial OK.
Tool 4: Pursue add-ons.
Writers pursuing add-on sales should immediately acknowledge the first purchase, express appreciation, and offer a logical extension that will satisfy more customer needs. Sell sets (a column, a two-part article) and mention another product in the context of a current product, such as naming a recently released book in one’s byline.
Tool 5: Be available.
Sales savvy writers are available when their customers need them. Among other things, this means answering the newspaper editor’s phone call during the Super Bowl and responding to text messages and email ASAP.
Part 2 coming soon!
Article by Beth Fowler, author of the beloved, coming-of-age novel “Ken’s War.”
When teen rebellion & culture shock collide. Shop here: Ken’s War
“Ken’s War is vibrant with authority … Fowler’s elegantly written novel risks exploring the full range of teenage behavior and emotion.” Nancy Springer, award- winning author of YA books.