Thursday, May 31, 2007

Crafting a Query

I saw your "Just Do It" article in WOMAN'S DAY yesterday. I've never seen that format, why you resist/why we insist in a self help article. Have I just overlooked it or did you or the WD editor come up with it? Since this magazine is so readily available, I think it would help your blog readers to read the article and also read the query you sent for it. (You've posted queries before, but we didn't have the matching article). Would that be possible?

Unfortunately, I searched my old email files and can't find this exact pitch, but I can give you an idea of what it looked like and how it came to fruition.

To answer your initial question, no, this isn't a standard format, this is how you land a story...but taking a generic topic, in this case, things that we all put off (which women's magazines cover endlessly), and spinning it into a clever package. For those who haven't seen the article, each thing that we might procrastinate (i.e, eating more fiber), is broken down like this:

Why You Resist Doing It: blah blah blah
Why We Insist On Doing it: blah blah health advice blah blah

Here's how I came up with it: I know that my editor at Woman's Day likes "fresh" spins on ideas. The magazine isn't going to cover crazy, outlandish topics. Rather, their audience likes good, smart advice on day-to-day, evergreen subjects, but they like it given to them with an interesting tweak. that end, I thought of the idea of "things that we all put off." But if I'd written my editor an email saying, "let's cover a story about things that we all put off," she'd have said, "snoozefest." Because there's nothing snappy or interesting about that subject, at least when you look at it superficially. So what I did instead was come up with crafty packaging: i.e, the resist/insist angle. See how I pitch the exact same subject matter but make it 100x more interesting by adding in the resist/insist suggestion?

For the actual pitch, I simply put together two or three topics that we later went on to include in the article - I can't remember what they were, but probably something like having more sex, making time for workouts, etc. I showed my editor how the article would break down, and then offered a list of other topics we could include and voila...story assigned.

Readers, how do you come up with unique pitches that you go on to land?

FYI: tomorrow, I'll be at BEA (Book Expo America), signing books and meeting and greeting. Will be back on Monday to report the scoop!


Sue said...

I am so jealous. I think everyone I know is at BEA this weekend, while I'm home waiting for a baby to pop out.

bookbabie said...

Wow, I keep coming across bloggers who will be at BEA, have fun Allsion:)

Allison Winn Scotch said...

Sue-having a baby is MORE exciting! Trust me. Congrats!

Maddy said...

Thanks - very helpful, but I suspect I'll still keep putting it off!