Query a Day: A Freelancer's Quest for Publication

A blog following a Pennsylvania freelance writer in her quest to become published nationally.

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Location: Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, United States

Cohabitating with boyfriend and cat in the mountains, soon to be graduate of Wilkes University and attending New School University in fall for MA in media studies.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Query #20: Admissions

Today I sent another query selling myself, rather than an idea. Last year, I wrote an article for the Career College Association's The Link. It was a first-person perspective on what inspired me to compile my self-published book while working as an admissions representative at a career school, and how the stories could help other admissions people understand the students they were trying to help. Coincidently, my uncle who works for a financial company with several career school clients was going to the CCA convention in Vegas last year. He invited me along. Mind you, I already had submitted the article and it was accepted. So, I was able to meet CCA people, primarily the publications manager, in person.

I was going through my portfolio yesterday and saw the article. Duh! Now that I am back in admissions-- well, starting tomorrow- and back in the whole career college "thing" I am sure ideas will hit me once I get back into the swing of things. I didn't pitch an idea just yet, but I did let the editor know I was back in the career school industry full-time, still writing on the side and would be interested in contributing again. I let him know I'd be pitching some ideas soon, but was also available on assignment should he need anything. They always say find something you are the expert in to write about, so now that I am back in education (primarily adult) I could also use this knowledge to pitch elsewhere and also seek out ideas from students. Gosh, I feel like I suddenly have ulterior motives to having a 'real' job!

As far as the follow-ups I made yesterday, no bites. Yet. I'm being optimistic that one has to come out of the dozen or so I made the past few weeks!

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

A day of follow ups

Hello! Hope everyone's Memorial Day weekend was full of fun- and lots of grilling.

Speaking of grilling, I plan on today "grilling" the editors I've e-mailed the past few weeks about my queries. I think instead of sending a new query today, I just want to play catch up before I start sending out the next few weeks of query-a-days! I wasn't around the computer much this week. Over the weekend we finally got the gravel for our driveway. We've been parking in the mud since we've been here. It wouldn't have been too, too bad but one, it's been raining so much and two, Dave has a big, heavy work van which makes ruts that my car gets stuck in. Yeah. Quite comical some mornings! Then, the rest of the weekend was spent going to this family member's place to that family member's place. Good fun. I missed the computer and querying, but I think it was a much-needed calm before the storm.

Monday starts five weeks of hell. At least 20 days of hell. I start working full-time. Yay! But that's not the hell part. I also have to take chemistry at the local community college. That is four days a week from 5:30-8:20, then the lab directly after until 10:30. I am wondering how much writing I can get done during this time, since I will be away from home from 8:00 a.m. until 11:00-ish p.m. (And what is my dear Dave going to do without dinner?!) I am hoping that the labs are quick and painless and the instructor lets us go when done.
I do hope I will have the energy to get up early and get some queries out in the a.m before I leave.

Again, thanks so much for everyone's comments and links. This project is so fun, and I am hoping that it inspires others to get their ideas out there! Wish me luck as I send out my follow-ups and think of some new ideas for later this week!


Saturday, May 27, 2006

Success: Best News Yet!

I am so super excited!

Yesterday when I came home, I checked the mail. As usual. With sending out queries by the day, I have been waiting for responses. Not that I am a pessimist, but most of the responses I have received in the past (before this blog project)- especially for book ideas-- have spawned rejection. So you can imagine that when I shuffled through the bills and saw an envelope from the publisher I sent the children's book query to, I expected the worst.

It wasn't. I wanted to scan in the letter and post it here, but I figure that at this point, I don't want to jinx myself. It was a letter that said they read my query with interest, and if the manuscript was not under consideration from someone else, they would like to see it. IT WAS AN INVITE TO SEND THE WHOLE MANUSCRIPT. I know writing in all caps is taboo, but come on! This is exciting news and I'd rather use big letters to show my emotion than a smiley face. So, I am this week going to have some people look over it, polish it and get it out there as soon as possible. I am just thrilled! Let's see what happens.

The sad thing is that I've had this idea for years. If I only had the courage to send it out sooner. Or, with the other ideas, I should have resubmitted them to other houses instead of being discouraged. I just need to find the right place for my ideas!

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Query 18 & 19: Wired, Doubled

I was feeling really productive today, so I decided to send tomorrow's query out today. Then, it kind of snowballed into a query for Saturday too.

See, today in the mail I got my first issue of Wired-- it comes free with an annual membership to mediabistro.com's Avant-Guard. I was flipping through the book and saw many cool front-of-book features. When I happened upon a page in their PLAY section called "SCREEN" and also saw that they featured an internet comedy, I saw an opportunity for another place to pitch the Soup of the Day story. I tweaked a previous pitch letter on the same subject matter to fit Wired.
Within hours, I received a personal response. Not exactly the type I wanted-- but nonetheless, encouraging. The timing was not right, as the show will be over before the August issue comes out. That's the issue they are on. She told me how their calendar works, and that she is currently assigning for the September issue and said I could send in some more ideas. I wasn't sure if that was standard, or if she did take a look at my clips. I hope she did.

So, I wanted to be as quick as she was with me. I whipped up another pitch letter, which I sent as a reply to the first e-mail. I told her about a gadget I knew of, sent her to a link for a demo and told her I had an interview lined up with the online business's owner. Business is closed for today, so I hope she responds to the mail quick tomorrow.

So, do I still query tomorrow? Do I still query for Saturday? I mean, I sent out three. I'm ahead of the game. But, perhaps I still should stick with the query-a-day mode-- if I take two days off, I could get lazy. Okay- it's back to brainstorm box!

Query #17: E! Online. Plus, I'm employed!!

Good news. I found a job!

I will begin as an admissions representative at Allied Medical and Technical Institute in Forty Fort on June 1. If anyone who knows me personally is reading this, it may sound familiar. Yep. It is what I did before I went back to school, only I was then at their Scranton location. I will have the same boss, coincidently. I don't think the job ever left my heart-- and I saw an opening advertised. Got a call almost immediately, had two interviews and they gave me an offer I couldn't say no to!

So, why did I go back to school then, you ask? Several reasons:
1. I finished what I started
2. I can say I have a college degree
3. I was opened up to the world and feel more knowledgeable, especially by adding sociology as a second major
4. Now that I have the BA, I am pursuing my master's in media studies. This means I can keep going. And eventually teach.
5. I was able to work side by side with some great people, students and faculty.

I did want to get into journalism full-time, but I am not in a position to up and leave to follow a job. I am tied to this area (read: we just bought a house) and do love Northeast PA and in a way want to be a part of the growth. (There has been an upheaval of young people leaving, and an effort to get local talent to stay. I try to be involved in community things here, so sometimes I feel hypocritical if I speak of leaving....) So, I need to find work here. So, this is what I had to do. The media here is not presenting any full-time opps. But, I will continue to write for the local publications I do (I hope!) and I plan on trying to freelance on a larger scale-- hence this blog! Maybe I'll even try another book.

I have an interview with a Survivor alum and need to find a place for it. I saw a posting on MediaBistro for E! Online. They are looking for movie correspondents. (Check it out if you think you have "it"!) I think given my locale, I could not regularly enough get the details on upcoming movies E! craves. However, since they do have a need for writers, I thought a pitch for a single story now may work. So, I pitched to them a story on this Survivor and his latest endeavors. The thing is, I also wrote two stories recently about people who were on E!- Dave Russo, E!'s The Entertainer runner-up graduated from my college, and I wrote an alumni profile for him in the college's alumni magazine. And, I recently interviewed Jonny Fairplay from Survivor about his role in The Scorned and Kill Reality, both which aired on E!. Those were the two clips I attached to my pitch letter. This would just be awesome! Wish me luck! And again- for those of you reading this who live in New York or LA of just have better connections than I, check out that post at mb.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Follow up: Success!

Great news! I wrote a follow up letter to Games Magazine about two puzzles I submitted recently. This morning I receieved a mail back from the editor and she said that she will be using the puzzles but did not know which issue. But, it's progress!

"Although I don't have any publication dates yet, I should be able to use them in GAMES sometime soon."

This is positive news! I am going to keep this up. One out of 16 is not bad so far, considering most of the places I pitched say they respond in 4-6 weeks or longer! Cross your fingers!


Query #16- On the Prowl

I've decided to title the, well, title "Query #" rather than "Day #." It just makes more sense.

I have a busy day tomorrow, so I already sent out my query of the day around midnight, which technically is a new day. I sent a query to InsiderHigherEd.com for an article on a college guide company. The twist is that these guides are written by students at the respective school. Hope they consider it.

I have also been posting some things that have not found a home-- or things from my "archives"-- on Associated Content. You know, just to get my name out there. There is one pretty cool website I reviewed
called MyHeritage- just throwing it out there incase anyone reading this blog wants to see what celebrity they look like. Of course, this would never count a one of my queries of the day-- just little bonuses.

As far as the full-time job hunt- it's rough. I can't relocate at the moment (tied into a mortgage) and there isn't much in my field locally. I don't want to have to take just any job, as I went back to school for a reason! Oh, the pressure. At least I have time to blog and query!

Monday, May 22, 2006

Day 15: Doing Business

Good morning!

Last week I attended a meeting of the Northeast PA Rainbow Alliance. (I actually just joined the advisory board for the organization.) It was a great meeting of the minds with city leaders, education people, clergy and other key players in the area-- it was a big brainstorming session to make connections and find ways to utilize each other to reach the Alliance's goals.

At any rate, during a break in the session I spoke with an acquaintance who works at the Chamber. In conversation I told her I was job hunting and also trying to get more freelance assignments. She informed me that the Chamber has a few publications, including a magazine, that uses freelancers. She gave me the communication director's name. In other developments, this woman also knew of my book. She took a copy (because I always have some in the car!) and is going to figure out how it could be used with the CareerLink Rapid Response team- a group that speaks with laid off workers about options. My book is on adult education, so it may be a good resource to use. That was exciting. I am familiar with Rapid Response since I used to work in the career school industry and we had many students who were fully funded for schooling from CareerLink through workforce investment dollars. It's a shame that factories are closing down around here left and right. But- maybe the various offices will see the book and think of buying it.

Still, the area is on the upswing. And, I am hoping I can write about it. Today's query of the day was little different. I just pitched myself to the chamber's communication department as an available writer.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

A Like-Minded Individual! (Also- some other resources.)

I admit it. I am a dork. I googled "query-a-day" to see what came up. (I mean, sending out a letter a day I suppose isn't anything really new.) I found a few other writers who suggest doing so. But, I did stumble upon something a little different. A journalism professor wrote a feature on MediaBistro on sending out a letter five days a week for the rest of your life. But not a query letter. A thank you letter of sorts. Here is a link to the story.

I also found through my free Site Meter that people were linking to this blog from various writing blogs and websites. So, since this is considered somewhat of a resource, I would like to list here the writing sites that I frequent for leisure, for job hunting or information.

www.MediaBistro.com- the granddaddy of all freelance sites. The $49 Avant Guild Membership is worth every penny, but I personally haven't had any luck with the Freelance Marketplace. The How-to-Pitch section is wonderful for my Query-a-Day quest!

- great site and newsletter

www.ed2010.com- a site full with a daily job and internship posting, a free newsletter, lots of inside scoops! Love it!

- I check this site daily for jobs in Pennsylvania. Not finding much. But if you are anywhere else in the country, this site is the prima donna of newspaper job searches

www.woodenhorse.com- has tons of magazine info. New markets, etc. Kicks ass.

www.writing-world.com- another good resource for writing

I hope that by paying attention to the markets, information and advice on all of these sites that I can finally get published on a broader scale. And, I hope you can (or are) too!

The weekend: Days 13 and 14. (Co-Ed Games??)

Hello all!

Busy weekend. Wilkes University had graduation. While I will be a summer graduate, I attended some activities. (The summer ceremony does not have anything special, so I celebrated early!) The morning started out with a wonderful breakfast with the graduation speaker, noted journalist and author Charlayne Hunter-Gault. Just a few students were invited to attend, so I was very honored to be there. It was myself, a few other members of the campus newspaper staff, my journalism professor, the senior class speaker and another student who was getting the award for highest GPA. She was incredible to listen to! Later on, the communication studies department hosted a reception. It was nice to spend some last moments with everyone. I mean, I am officially done at Wilkes too. If it wasn't for that lab science class I have to take at the community college this summer!

At any rate, with that and some family things happening, I was unable to blog until this evening. But, I have been making some progress.

Since so far the only place I have been published nationally was Kappa Publishing's Games Magazine (three times), I decided that perhaps this was a good market to inform other writers about. I was published three times also on Jenna Glatzer's AbsoluteWrite.com, so I decided to pitch them again with a story on breaking into the games and puzzles market. This isn't exactly a true "writing" market, but it is a fun way to get published!

Since I was unable to pitch something Saturday, I sent out two this evening. The second was an idea I wanted to print in the campus paper, but decided to hang onto it. It is just a short FOB piece on how to save money on road trips, which I pitched to CO-ED Magazine, a newer college-geared magazine.

I also started reading more again! Now that the text books are sold back, I can indulge in leisurely reading once again. Just picked up the Da Vinci Code and Sellevision- I finished Sellevision this afternoon and am going to start the book version of the box office hit tonight. (I know- I am probably the last person in the nation to pick this up!)


Friday, May 19, 2006

Somewhere between Day 11 and 12

Hi all!

I just wanted to thank some of the people who have taken the time to write me. I was given some encouragement and an alternative place to pitch the rejected Chronicle piece. (Which by the way was sent out right away.) I won't cheat and count that as a new query for a day, however.

I also just stumbled upon another writing blog that featured this blog- thanks to the gang at WrittenRoad.com, a writing blog geared toward travel writing. I became lost there for a little while-- good stuff.

Knowing the EW is a bigger publication, I also pitched the Soup story to USA Today's feature editor. I have an interview lined up and just need somewhere to put it! Any ideas?

That's it for today! Going to hit the sack now.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

"Soup of the" Day 11

I've been learning that one of the best ways to break into the larger publications is with FOB pieces. Entertainment Weekly has a News and Notes section, which accepts freelance submissions.

I queried them this morning about a project Survivor alum Rob Cesternino has started- an interactive web show called Soup of the Day. This concept is pretty darn cool and I haven't seen any mainstream coverage of it yet, so perhaps the editor of that section will find it intriguing.

Some housekeeping:
I sent some follow-up e-mails to editors I sent pitches to last week. Hopefully that will help keep me top of mind.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Day 10: New Query (of course) and a Rejection

Well, the good news is that people are reading my submissions.

The bad news is that the Chronicle of Higher Education already sent me a response on my pitch. They used a pretty much canned e-mail that states that most of the pieces they run are assigned. That's cool. Perhaps one day I can be one of their regular correspondents. I have a soft spot for academia.

Speaking of education, I am going query the Society of Professional Journalists again about a piece on the LGBT style guide. Not sure if it will fly or not, but I met some representatives of the Gay and Lesbian Journalists Association and was given a style guide- a glossary full of definitions (as someone once put it) of the alphabet soup we know as the terminology. I think there are a lot of positive things that can come out of this being covered by SPJ. Perhaps some media shy away from LBGT stories because they fear offending members of the community because they are unsure of how to refer to certain things.

So- that's my query of the day today.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006


Hello! This blog has been featured this morning on MediaBistro- so, I just wanted to say hello to everyone who stopped by, clicking on the link from mb. Thanks for visiting. I've received some feedback on this project via comment and e-mail. THANK YOU! It's nice to have the support of fellow freelancers.

If anyone has any advice or tips or success stories, feel free to share either as a comment here or e-mail to me from my profile page.
There are just so many stories to tell, so many great writers out there and lots of great places to be published. I guess it just all comes down to the right combination of those three! Thanks again for visiting my blog. As I get accepted, I plan to post entries as "Success Stories." So, here's to getting one of those soon.


Day 9- Father-Daughter Team

Good morning.

I feel like I am being a little lazy. But I'm not, really. I actually over the weekend bought MediaBistro's Get a Freelance Life. Didn't put that baby down. It was a great read, great inspiration to get my work out there. I had already been on a kick to get some reprints out there, as a start. But, this book also gave some insight into that realm. It reinforced me that I was on the right track.

So, I did this piece last year on a father and daughter who both teach music at a local college. I just sent it to the Chronicle of Higher Education. I know that a lot of colleges have families, or husband and wives on staff/faculty. Thought it may strike their fancy as part of a series or as a piece on its own. The piece ran in a college newspaper, and I did receive some compliments on the story.

I have been also brainstorming for some new articles, but I want to be sure to send out a pitch letter per day to keep up with my goal. So, if in between I shop around some reprints maybe this will only boost my chances.

One of the things I have done was make a list of all my friends and acquaintances and write what they do for a living. I plan to also add another column to put the most "fun" fact about them. Then, I will see what strikes me from the list.

Well, that's all for now. I am up extra early today. I cleaned off my desk. And it's dying to get dirty again. I need a project.


Monday, May 15, 2006

Day 7 & 8- Mother's Day, Etc.

I spent yesterday at my mom's house in the Poconos. We drank coffee and tossed around letter tiles, as usual. And yes. She kicked my ass in Scrabble, as usual. Since I am kind of poor and struggling, my mother's day gift to her was a roll of quarters-- she is going to Vegas in a few weeks. But, she lost on the Pennsylvania lottery Mother Day instant ticket I also gave her. Hope its not a sign of what my other gift will also do.

Anyway, so I did e-mail a submission yesterday to Jane for its "It Happened to Me" feature. I vent often about tragic things that happen to me, strange things that happen to me. So, I sent them one of those rants. They pay $1000 for those stories.

I recently got back in touch with a friend from Tulsa, and he and his brother own a web company called StreetTags.com. Their products have been featured in a few magazines. I spoke with him about a feature on some of their gadgets for my local paper, and he agreed to an interview. But then I got to thinking. They were also featured in Entrepreuner Magazine as young business people of the year at the end of 2005. Oklahoma has a state-wide magazine that profiles the people and places of the Sooner State. I am going to pitch a business profile to Oklahoma today.

There really is a story in everyone. That's reinforced everyday as I speak to people. I just need to find a place to tell them.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Day 6: Paste Magazine

There is this totally cool guy I know that has a totally cool band. I have written about these guys locally twice. But they are just far too cool to be ignored on a larger scale. I sent a pitch today to Paste Magazine for an interview piece with local group, Felix Sarco.

Along with it I sent clips of the last two pieces I wrote on them. My query letter was pointless, as I do think the clip-- which include the lead singer's way with words, and his philiosophies-- would alone sell the idea. The stuff he said to me is exactly the off-the-cuff stuff magazines like Paste are into.

But, it's not about me being published totally. I would love to have these guys be known about beyond the confines of NEPA and Philly and NYC and the other places they play within a few hour drive of here. I am tired of the same old crap that is out there sometimes-- people need to really be rocked by something different.

And that my friends is why I am crossing my fingers the Paste Magazine will hit me back.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Day 5: Pennsylvania History

John Stoddart laid out a solid foundation for his dream town. It didn't work out like he had hoped. But one of his descendants is building its history.

Stoddartsville was supposed to be a thriving canal town with mills, shops taverns and homes. It was supposed to be a bustling town that housed families who worked at the mills. It was supposed to develop into a port city with tourist attractions. Instead, the Lehigh River town was washed away by financial and natural disasters.

That was the lead to the story I sent out today, to Pennsylvania Hertiage Magazine. This is one of my favorite stories, ever. I love local history. I fell in love with this little town and the older man who saved it from Pocono development. And, it is a story that no one has heard. There is almost nothing about this place out there. I think I filled a gap- and the local paper, The Times Leader, ran it. At any rate, if it is allowed to be reprinted, I would be ecstatic. I mean, in most cases I would l just love to be published. But, this story has a special meaning to me. This message needs to get out, and this man's story needs to be preserved in local history indeed. His efforts are incredible.

So, today's query-of-the-day was to sell reprint rights of a local history piece to a state-wide magazine.


Thursday, May 11, 2006

Day 4- Children's Book Idea

I like versitility. Keeps me from being bored.

So, in my quest to brainstorm enough ideas to send out a query a day, I looked to my "Idea Box." In it, I found a children's story idea I had a few years ago. I spent some time with it last night, and this morning am sending a letter to a publisher. I had e-mailed them for requirements, and they do not accept electronic queries.

I don't want to put online the concept, but it has to do with Mrs. Claus.

If Madonna and LeAnn Rimes can do it, so can I. It seems as if all famous people get to write children's books. How about accepting an idea from us little people? Wish me luck.

Merry Christmas in May. Hopefully, Merry Christmas to me by way of a response soon.


Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Day 3- SPJ

Today, I sent a submission to the Society of Professional Journalists. I just became a member and have recieved their magazine, The Quill. There are a lot of writing tips included, which are written by freelancers. I know that it is a little easier to break into the trade publication market.... so, I dug up an article that I had written for AbsoluteWrite.com about e-mail interviews and how (even though I still use them from time to time) they pale in comparison to face-to-face. They only have the first time rights. I would love to share this piece with my peers, so today, that was my query of the day.


Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Day Two: O Magazine and GAMES

I made a little progress today.

First, I wanted to send a follow up e-mail to an editor from Oprah magazine. I attended a college media convention in New York City, and she was one of the panelists. After the meeting, we talked briefly. She gave me her card and said to send her some clips. She also told me that she had a friend who was a nontraditional student (read: older) too, which I think allowed us to have somewhat of a connection. So, I e-mailed her a follow-up letter and clips. Well, I realized that the way Gmail files stuff, somehow I missed that the first e-mail bounced back. All this time, I though maybe she just didn't respond. I mean, that could still be the case. But, I resent everything today.

Second, I created another game for GAMES Magazine, called Book Ends. I submitted that via e-mail today. I have a game published in the current issue- July- which is on stands now. I haven't got a chance to get a copy. Book Ends has classic book titles with the last word missing. Readers have to fill that in. Then, the first letter of each of those words spells another book. I think its fun. But then again, I wrote it! However, it is up to par with the other three items I published with them. Even though these aren't articles, it is still a national publication. And, the magazine does have articles too (board game reviews, etc. ) so maybe these puzzles will lead to something.

At any rate, I have brainstormed a few more ideas and will certainly get a query out again tomorrow. So, my official start of the Query-a-Day project is off to a good start.

Let's see if I can keep it up!


Monday, May 08, 2006

Day One: A New Writer's Market


This is my first blog entry for this project I am calling "Query a Day."

As a graduation present from my professor, mentor and campus newspaper advisor, I was given the 2006 Writer's Market. I was also told how courageous I was to always find new venues for publication. She challenged me to "keep putting words on paper."

I have had freelance success locally. I have been a correspondent for the local alternative weekly, The Weekender for five years. For the past four years, I have been writing for their sister daily paper, The Times Leader. I have been published in an education trade journal, an alumni magazine, had a greeting card published by Oatmeal Studios, have written for many online publications and had three word games published in the past three years for GAMES Magazine.

But, I have yet to break into the national market for freelance articles. ED2010.com has a wonderful blog that follows an aspiring newspaper writer in NYC on the job hunt. They are looking for a new blogger as ED Girl #2 just landed her first job. I am not in NYC, so I don't think my job hunt will be as exciting.

However, I have decided to start a blog to follow my own quest toward getting an article published. I have decided to send a query a day. This will raise my chances, I am sure. I have brainstormed and have come up with story ideas. Let's see what happens!

I will share my letdowns, my triumphs, tips I was passed and more.

Wish me luck. This one's for you Andrea!