When you’re a travel writer, your vacations become a tax write-off.
And when you can earn a few hundred or a few thousand dollars for your stories and pictures, traveling becomes an income generator, not an expense – something you can do more often, not just twice a year.
Kyle Wagner, the former editor at the Denver Post says writers don’t spend enough time on the query letters they send to editors when they’re trying to sell their story.
A query letter is the letter (or these days, the email) you send to editors pitching your story to their publication.
Many writers treat their query letter as an after-thought, once the “hard work” of writing their story is over. But this is a huge mistake. Your query letter, you see, is the advertisement for your story. And, however good your article might be, if it’s not accompanied by a compelling query letter, it’s unlikely to ever meet an editor’s eye.
To make matters harder, Kyle says you have just 10 seconds (or less) to win over an editor with your pitch.
So, how do you get your editor at “Hello?”
Here are three suggestions from Kyle:
** 1. It’s all about the subject line and/or the first sentence.
A truthful editor will admit that they devote about 10 seconds to every query. That means you have the subject line and maybe one or two sentences into your query to get some attention. If you can’t woo the editor then, your romance is over before it’s begun.
** 2. Use your writing skills.
I’m amazed at how many writers think it’s OK to put 100% effort into their stories but only 40% into the query. Make sure the editor will want to read the story by dazzling them just as much by your query prose. Spelling counts. Use the same active verbs and strong adjectives as you do in your story.
** 3. Just because it’s e-mail doesn’t mean I’m your drinking buddy.
Don’t use the editor’s first name, don’t start off with your credentials or the famous people you know, and don’t act in a familiar, informal way as if you and the editor were at a bar together last night. Address it like a professional letter.
Be sure to keep these tips in mind next time you’re composing your query letter.
[Editor’s Note: Learn more about opportunities to profit from your travels (and even from your own home) in our free online newsletter The Right Way to Travel. Sign up today here and we’ll send you a report, Get Paid to Travel as a Travel Writer, completely FREE.]