Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Go Ahead, Talk Sweet to Me

In my last newsletter, I listed topics I'd love to see covered in my guest article section of FundsforWriters. As expected, the dam burst with queries. As selfish as this sounds, the query letters that praised the newsletters, the website, and me, caught my attention first.

Some were just sweet. But most of the time, when someone compliments me in a query, I learn one or more of the following:
  • how long they've been reading the newsletter
  • what they like about the newsletter
  • what the newsletter does for them in their professional struggles
So while such comments send warm fuzzies down my spine, they also tell me:
  • they understand the voice of my publication
  • what they like about my publication
  • what is their experience, which is reflected in what they gleaned from the publication
What is initially considered schmoozing, is strategically used by the recipient as intel on the writer. Agents, publishers, and magazine editors all expect it . . . and use it to their advantage.

When you pitch your book, admiring the agent's interest in Southern culture tells her you read her bio on the website, which probably means you also read the page that said she only sought political intrigue, true crime, and contemporary suspense. If you praised her latest sale for a named author, you also might have bought the book, or at least know what the agent likes.

When you pitch your magazine feature, praising last month's two-page spread on making cheese tells an editor you picked up the magazine and read it. This also means you are more likely to hit the target on the magazine's needs than someone who doesn't throw in a compliment or two. The editor is more likely to ponder your query another second or two . . . maybe long enough to like it.

While the FundsforWriters guidelines do not request flattery, it is well received, because it opens a door for me to understand more about you, and whether you know what I seek in a contributing writer. And I'm not the only one who does this, trust me.


Karen Lange said...

Thanks for the info, Hope!

JD said...

Love. Your. Candor. Human nature is what it is, and who wouldn't want to have their work complimented? Thank you for posting!

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

Excellent information. Thanks!