ONLINE EXTRA: A query letter example for pitching real-life stories
Published: October 2, 2009
|In the November 2009 issue of The Writer, veteran freelance writer Kelly James-Enger, a contributing editor at the magazine, offered advice on "how to find, sell, research and write true-life stories." Her sidebar that follows shows an actual query that succeeded.|
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Pitching your true-life feature
Here's an example of a true-life feature pitch that sold; note the level of detail I included as well as the "twist" (using nontraditional medicine to get better) the story contains.
December 23, 1997
Ms. Nuna Alberts
Woman's World, The Woman's Weekly
270 Sylvan Avenue
Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey 07632
Dear Ms. Alberts:
What would you do if your only child was so ill she couldn't sit up…and yet no one believed she was sick?
It started when Emily Russell's daughter, Erin, was in eighth grade. She complained of feeling tired all the time and became so weak that she missed over thirty days of school. Although Erin's symptoms eventually abated, they returned in high school. She underwent batteries of blood and physical tests, but all were negative. One doctor announced that she was simply depressed.
With the assistance of a homebound tutor, Erin managed to graduate from high school. She completed a three-year nursing program but shortly after starting her first job, her symptoms returned once again. Erin felt a continual, oppressive heaviness and was often dizzy. Her thought processes were so greatly affected that she was afraid to drive. Eventually she was forced to quit her job.
Since she didn't qualify for social security or disability, Erin was forced to use savings and retirement to pay for her mounting doctors' bills and everyday living expenses; eventually she moved in with her grandmother. Erin sought treatment from the Mayo Clinic, but again all of her medical tests were negative until a California specialist diagnosed her with chronic fatigue syndrome. It was only about a year ago, when she began seeing a chiropractor who uses applied kinesiology and homeopathy, that her symptoms improved so markedly that she was able to go back to work full-time.
Are you interested in an article about Emily and Erin's experience with chronic fatigue syndrome? I believe Woman's World readers will find their story compelling, especially since many people who suffer from chronic fatigue syndrome and other "questionable" diseases experience the same kind of frustration with the medical field; in fact, Erin only found relief from her symptoms through alternative medicine.
I've received permission from the Russell family to write this article, and can provide photographs to accompany the story if desired. I've written for magazines including Good Housekeeping, Cosmopolitan, and BRIDES; clips are enclosed. I hope you'll find this story appropriate for a future issue of Woman's World, and look forward to hearing from you soon.
Thank you for your time.
Very truly yours,