Some of the terminology that is stated for submissions of your work may be unfamiliar for new writers. I will explain some of those terms and their meaning so that it will not be intimidating and you will be able to successfully continue as a freelance writer. Of course there are no guarantees, but many freelance writers are earning a 6 figure income in as little as two years and are doing so right from their computer.

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Query?

It is a business letter that is basically a one page proposal stating that you are interested in writing a particular piece for a specific magazine that is addressed to an editor by name. (Sales tool or pitch for professional and aspiring freelance writers)

Example Query

1. A lead paragraph that could double as a first paragraph of the published article that you plan to present to the editor.

2. A description of the focus, content, format, source or sources of the proposed article.

3. Bio: Explain why you should be considered to write this article.

4. Other Information that would include the timing, photos, etc.

After you have completed your query, you can proceed to printing it out on plain letterhead. Include your name, address, phone number, and email address.

Option #2 for Query

In a business letter format you could simply state: “I am writing to propose an article about….”

Tip: Make sure that it is interesting to the editor and articulate.

How to send a Query?

Not unless you know an editor or they have it stated in their submission guidelines or request you to do so, you probably will not want to fax your query. Instead, do so by mail.

Tip: Enclose clips/samples and previous articles (if any) that you have access to.

SASE?

Self-addressed stamped envelope. This can be omitted if you know the editor or have written for them previously, otherwise it is important to enclose a SASE. Some editors will throw away and discard your valuable material if it is not included.

First serial rights

In where a magazine buys rights to publish your material first in any periodical. Once you sell your first serial rights to a magazine, you own it completely again. This means that you can sell the exact same piece, material, content, article, to another magazine as second serial rights or reprints. If you are asked to sell your rights try to get a good price.

One time rights

The right to publish a piece, material, content, article, etc, once.

Work for Hire

This means that you sell your copyright to your own material, work, content, article, and any claim to it forever. Try to avoid this unless you are an employee of this magazine or publication.

Kill Fee

It is a negotiated payment on a magazine or article that is given to the freelance writer if their assignment is “killed” or cancelled. This fee is given in confidence to the writer for their efforts and they normally pay a percentage of the article. It can range anywhere from 10 to 100 percent. After a kill fee is paid, you own rights to the piece and can sell it again.

Tip:You do not have to state that, “you have never published anything”. After all remember, you don’t have to and that is not a requirement. You can also ask the editor for more money if you feel that it will take you more time to research the piece by saying, “Could you offer more than $300?” “It may take more time to research for this piece.”