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How to Grab a Magazine Editor’s Attention

Nothing builds visibility and demonstrates subject mastery to prospective buyers better than a series of articles published in a targeted trade publication.
Alas, many consultants submit a query letter like this one, then hear crickets. No response. Then they give up. Or they publish their articles on LinkedIn or their own website. Or they resort to “internet distribution networks” for their work, which has about the same success rate as asking your cat, Whiskers, to distribute 100 copies to the neighbors.
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Old-fashioned, standard query letters rarely work. The recipient views it as generic, uninspired and impersonal. Not a winning recipe. Plus, asking an editor to read your pre-written article is unrealistic. She receives dozens, hundreds or thousands of queries every week and the last thing she wants to do is read one more milquetoast, quasi-promotional draft from a consultant.
Drop the tired, stodgy query-letter and customize the following email for your own use. Then let me know when your articles are being published.

Teaser Letter for Magazine Editor

(Replace the words in blue with your own content)


David’s notes:

Who is this letter about? The editor.
Is it personalized? Completely. It shows you have read the editor’s writing. Flattery and attention work.
Are the benefits to the editor clear? Yes.
Is it intriguing or breakthrough? Moderately. It’s not Pulitzer-prize material, but it breaks through the morass of query letters.
Is the call-to-action/request reasonable? Completely. Few editors can resist looking at a handful of titles from a thoughtful author.

Hi Cheryl.
I’ve been reading your series on how to replace employees with dachshunds and the articles are terrific. You were dead on with the point about junior staffers having cold noses. And, as I know from hard experience it’s not easy to come up with a metaphor like “overcooked flan.” I loved it.
After reading that series and looking through other articles in Buggy Whip Manufacturing, it struck me that your audience might get a lot of value from some of the topics I’ve been covering lately. Are you open to looking at a few topic ideas?
Thanks,
Ferdinand Fetoozle
Author, Buggy Whip City: Why a Dead Industry Perished Again and is Still Kaput


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8 Comments
  1. rick maurer
    April 29, 2015 at 9:20 am Reply

    David –
    This advice is so simple and human. I tend to make the process much harder than it need be. And even with all that work shaping a pitch for an article, I still can fail to connect with the editors. I like that it is clear you’ve read something by that editor, you allow your voice (and humor) to come through, and your offer is so easy to say yes to. I know that you know that you did those things, but it helps me to delineate what you did. Thanks.
    Rick

    • David A. Fields
      April 30, 2015 at 9:30 am Reply

      Rick, you are right on the mark. Simplicity is the key. As consultants, we often “over egg the omelet.” Notice that “shaping” the pitch for an editor isn’t a ton of work. It takes very little time to scan a few articles. Your big energy investments should be in 1) developing killer topics/headlines, and 2) identifying the right editor. Let me know when you get the next article published… in fact, post a link here so others can enjoy your writing!

  2. Jaime Campbell
    April 29, 2015 at 12:26 pm Reply

    Interesting. I’ve never thought about sending out a letter cold. I’ve always networked my way to editors. But this could expand my reach. Hm!

    • David A. Fields
      April 30, 2015 at 9:41 am Reply

      Jaime, networking your way to editors is definitely the preferred approach. Once you reach them, though, your conversation on the phone can sound very similar to the example email: I’ve read your stuff and admire it; are you open to looking at a few of my topic ideas? Connect then an easy-to-agree request.

  3. Robert Keteyian
    April 29, 2015 at 12:55 pm Reply

    This is great advice (and I also enjoy your humor!). Doing your homework really pays off. I’ve had some success getting a few articles published in a well known business publication by doing just what you suggest. Reading what they already published and making sure that you have something genuine to contribute makes all the difference. The editor will pick up on your sincerity. Having a relationship with the editor takes time. I’ve also had some rejections from the same editor, but with thoughtful, helpful responses–not just the boilerplate stuff.

    • David A. Fields
      April 30, 2015 at 9:46 am Reply

      Thanks for validating the approach, Bob. The thoughtful rejections are testimony to the relationship you’ve built with the editor. One quick question for you: are well known business publications your best outlet? My experience suggests browsers scan the national/big-name magazines, whereas buyers pore over trade journals specific to their needs. Regardless, congratulations on getting your work picked up. Let me know when your next article is published (post a link here) so we can all enjoy it!

  4. Anne C. Graham
    April 29, 2015 at 4:18 pm Reply

    Perfect timing, David! As I ramp up my book launch of Profit in Plain Sight targeted to the manufacturing sector, there are tons of trade publications I need to target, and this is a simple, easy-to-implement approach. Thanks!

    • David A. Fields
      April 30, 2015 at 9:47 am Reply

      You’re welcome, Anne. Congratulations on the book! Let me know how the article placement goes, and post a link here when you get a piece published.

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