Freelance Query

To all those out there who freelance:

I’ve been noodling around a story idea for a freelance piece and have been wondering whether it’s better to send out queries first and then write the story, or whether it’s better to write a story and then query publications about it?

I welcome any suggestions in the comments.


3 thoughts on “Freelance Query

  1. It really depends on the market and the piece. If it’s a reported piece, always query first. If it’s an experience piece, you might write it first, just as you would a personal essay. The tougher the market to crack, the more you need to query, generally.

    I often query my top choice, make a list of the next group of 6 pubs to query next if I don’t get the assignment. At the same time, if I feel strongly that I’m interested in it enough that I’m going to be persistent and sell it somewhere at some point, I might start writing the parts of the piece which don’t require too much time or expense.

    Good luck.

    • Lisa,
      This is great information. I’m starting to get story ideas zooming in my head.

      I want to go out, interview people, write stories, etc. At the same time, I want to get my ideas out to editors. And really have no idea where to start. Your advice is welcome.

  2. Hi there Todd,

    This is Sue, coming to visit your page two years later 🙂

    I am a beginning freelancer. I’ve been a beginning freelancer for years for this reason – when I feel like I have an audience looking over my shoulder as I write, I clam up. My body tightens up, I can feel the glands on the side of my neck threatening to stand up of their own accord. This is the reason why I surfed into your blog in the first place – I’ve been searching the net to find the people who write first, query later. This is what I really really want to do, so I can skip that exposed feeling (it’s horrible being so bloody highly sensitive, grr) and go straight to the expansive place that I write from.

    I’m beginning to suspect, though, that in the meantime, until I have a few things published and my confidence lifts, that I may need to buck the conventional trend that says “write first, query later” and turn it on its head.

    I’d be interested to know if you ended up writing this piece, and whether you queried first or wrote it first?

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