Your weekly guide to freelance writing, journalism, book publishing, and marketing your work. Brought to you by journalist and author Mridu Khullar Relph.
Mridu Khullar Relph

Notes From My Desk

APRIL 25, 2013
When I first started writing, I had a huge list of publications that I aspired to write for. These were the magazines and newspapers that inspired me when I felt down and defeated. I'd read through the pages, I'd sit with a cup of tea in my hand and spend hours looking at their websites. I'd come up with dozens of ideas and pitch, pitch, pitch the hell out of them. I wrote for some, not for others.

As I became more successful and as a result more and more busy with work, those magazine dreams just kind of faded away. I had credentials now, so I didn't need to chase these publications like I had when I was new. And I was always so busy writing for my existing clients that pitching to new markets, especially hard-to-break-into ones like The New Yorker or National Geographic, just never made it on to my list of things to do. Pitch The New Yorker and wait a year for the rejection or e-mail my editor at a trade magazine and get a quick assignment and nice paycheck? I chose the latter option, because hey, this is my profession and I've got to make money at it.

But it's also my dream.

So this month, I've decided to start querying these publications again and seeing if I can break into any of them.

If you've been reading my blog for a while, you know that I love a good challenge. When work gets low or I start getting bored, I like to push myself by setting a financial goal, a personal target, or something completely ridiculous that I then either achieve or don't, but always learn from.

So here's what I'm going to do: Starting May 1, I'm going to send out 30 fully fleshed out queries to 30 magazines or newspapers that I've never written for before. New clients, not existing ones. I know these are publications that sometimes take weeks, if not months, to get back to writers, so I'm not actually worried about the deluge of work from them. The aim is to send out 30 queries before the end of the 30-day period. 
If you're interested in keeping up or joining in, I'll be posting frequent updates on my blog as well as on Twitter with the hashtag #30queries.
Have you been feeling like you haven't challenged yourself enough lately or have given up on your dreams of breaking into certain publications? 
Join me and let's do it together. Who's with me?

Twitter: @mridukhullar

How to Write an Attention-Grabbing Hook

The first sentence of your pitch is by far the most important thing you’ll write in the entire duration of your article’s life. Busy editors are generally pulled in or turned off by this “hook” so it needs to grab her attention from the get-go. Here are some of the leads I've written over the years

The 8 Types of Query Letters

Since I’m sending out query letters by the gazillions this month, let me talk a bit about the different types of query letters and which ones you should use when. There are no “rules” to this, just guidelines, and remember to always do a gut check. You’re a smart, intelligent professional, so trust that you do know what is best.

Do Experienced Writers Pitch Stories?

I think it’s a huge misconception freelancers have that once they’re established, they can sit back and relax and wait for their editors to come to them with story ideas. While that does happen frequently, wouldn’t you want to come up with ideas that interest you and that you can be paid for?
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