Linda Formichelli reports:
"A key part of a successful query letter is the paragraph or two where you tell the editor who you are and why you’re the perfect person to write the idea you’re pitching...Here’s what to ask yourself to build a credentials paragraph that has an editor drooling to assign you the article: Do I have any clips, even if they’re not relevant?...If you’re pitching an article on holiday health hazards and all you have is three clips on pets, that’s what you use. I’ve had students who were afraid to mention non-relevant clips, so it looked like they had none at all. Don’t do this! Do I have any educational background in the topic? You may not have written about a particular topic, but maybe you’ve studied it. So your credentials paragraph for an article on business marketing might mention you have an MBA. But you don’t have to have an advanced degree...Do I have access to a key source? You may be friends with or have some other personal or business connection to a hard-to-get source such as a celebrity, bestselling author, or high-ranking politician. This makes you the obvious choice to write the story you’re pitching. So don’t be shy — bring it up! Do I have an employment background in the topic? Many writers have second jobs, and this can be a plus if your job (or a past job) relates to the subject you’re pitching...Do I have personal experience in the topic?...If you’re pitching a parenting article, mention that you’re a mom or dad. If you’re writing about a health issue that you happen to have, bring it up. Pitching a piece on self[-]defense? Tell the editor about your experience in the martial arts. You can even let the editor know if you’re related to someone with a lot of experience in the topic; for example, if you’re querying an article on ways to market your pizzeria and your dad runs a successful pizza joint, you’ll want to highlight that connection...Do other editors love me? An editor is taking a risk by hiring a new-to-her writer — who’s to say you won’t skimp on research or flake out at deadline time? One way around this, especially if you don’t have a big handful of clips to show off or any obvious connection to the topic you’re pitching, is to let the editor know what your strong points are as a writer. For example, have you received a compliment from another editor or client on your skill with words or your fast turnaround? Did an article you wrote for a website garner 500 comments? You can use this information to bolster a weak credentials paragraph."
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