Freelance Boot Camp: Writing queries that sell

Freelance Boot Camp: Writing queries that sell

Registration for the online version of Freelance Writer Bootcamp is currently closed. Sign up here to be the first to hear when enrollment opens up again. 

It’s one thing to have a great idea for a story, another to know your dream markets, and something else entirely to know how to write a pitch letter that an editor cannot resist.

Back when I had a day job, but wanted to be a freelance journalist, I didn’t have any experience or contacts. In the evening after work, I wrote my first query letter. Then I second-guessed myself. If this was as good an idea for the newspaper as I thought it was, why hadn’t they already published the story? I emailed it off anyway. The editor liked the proposal, as well as the finished article. Soon, she asked me if I’d report another piece that she was looking to assign. We continued to work together for years—sometimes I came up with the ideas, sometimes she did—even after the newspaper section that she originally commissioned me for ceased to be.

Not all my queries have sold, and not all assignments have led to long-term editorial relationships. But more than a decade ago, I began selling enough stories to quit the day job and write full-time. Over the years, I’ve refined my pitch strategy to be more efficient and successful. I continue to send query ideas to editors when I need more work, better-paying work, and/or come across a cool story idea that I want the world to know about. I don’t write on spec (i.e., write up and send off a finished article without an assignment), and don’t recommend it for anybody who is serious about a writing career.

Whether you’re starting out, transitioning from staff to freelance, or want to up your game, this course will demystify the process and give you tools and strategies for landing new work.

I will take you step by step through how to write salable story proposals, including:

+developing ideas
+crafting and structuring a query
+analysing markets
+becoming your editor’s go-to writer
+negotiating rates and contracts
+writing for overseas publications

What you’ll get from this class:

+Four live, interactive workshops with your peers
+Detailed feedback on your queries
+Course materials, including sample queries and resources for finding new markets
+Online support

You will produce at least a couple of viable queries ready to send to editors, as well as a list of contacts at markets you’re interested in, and a folder of ideas in progress.


Instructor bio: I’m a journalist and writing coach with an MA in English education and years of experience teaching writing to adults. I’ve cold pitched and sold story ideas to the Cape Argus, Business Day, and Marie Claire, as well as overseas to CNN, the New York Times, USA Today, and many other publications.

Questions? Email me.

Registration for this course is now closed. To find out about future courses, please sign up for my enewsletter.