I often compare querying a publication to dating or being in a relationship: “Date Your Publication” and what would dating be without cheesy, low class, creepy pick-up lines?
“I think we’ve met/Tweeted/are Facebook friends.”
“Don’t I know you from somewhere?” Writers really don’t have to press to find a connection with an editor in their query. Unless you’ve had an encounter the editor is going to remember, forget the wind up, just pitch. Some exceptions include: actually meeting them, talking with them and having the door left open for a pitch, regularly interacting via social networking, etc.
“Are you looking for writers?”
“Hey baby, want someone to go home with you tonight?” Of course they are looking for writers, ideas and in this market, they probably are working with freelancers more than ever. Don’t ask, just pitch and on the off chance they aren’t looking for anyone they’ll let you know. I once was turned down by a publication because they were going on hiatus for a while and weren’t sure when they would be back up and running.
“I just LOVE your magazine and would LOVE to write for you.”
“You are the hottest guy in the place tonight.” Flattery works well, but most of the time it is a pretty transparent attempt to butter the editor up while asking for work. Compliment a recent article if it ties to your pitch. “I enjoyed March’s article on Roller Derby Racing and thought you may be interested in an article profiling the last living member of the legendary “Jug Jug Team.” Steve “Roll Man” Johnson was the …”
“My friend Barbara is a great writer and…”
“My friend’s shy and wanted me to come over and…” I’m a big fan of working your connections and having a friend introduce you to an editor is good stuff, but it has to be orchestrated in the right way. The wing man has to have it going on. If they constantly miss deadlines you’re not going to win any points with the editor. Editors, like most people, judge you by your friends and associates.
“This is perfect for your magazine!”
“I’m quite a catch.” Um, let the editor be the judge of that one. Newbie writers tend to make this mistake. They are so excited about the idea, the feel and tone of the piece, they can practically smell the article on the pages.
“I’ve been following you on MySpace, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. How was that sandwich you had last Thursday before you went to your staff meeting?”
“I’ve been watching you all night [insert creepy leer].” It’s one thing to follow someone in your profession, it’s another thing to cyberstalk them. Don’t be creepy and even if you do know they had a sandwich last Thursday, keep that information to yourself. Oh, and you might want to spend a little more time on your query and less on their FB.
A query is a pitch. It says “Hey, I like you and here’s what I have to offer. Interested?” But sometimes writers can go a little cliche’ or creepy when pitching to editors. The key is to remember you don’t have to hard sell a pitch. We’ve all seen the magazine writer or newspaper reporter following the editor in chief around the office begging to cover a story. It makes good TV, but in reality, good query ideas – with proper supporting sources – speak for themselves. Editors know what works for their publications no need to go after them like a hound after pork chop underpants.
Got a cheesy query pick up line? Write it below!