Query Letter Example for a Magazine Article – A Health Pitch

In this query letter example for a proposed magazine article, I pitch a health piece to the editors of MSN Health (who are fantastic to work with, by the way!).

While there’s no “winning formula” to writing excellent query letters, it’s good to see how published freelance writers pitch their article ideas. So, here’s a query letter I sent to MSN Health, which the editors accepted two days later.

How do you write a successful query letter? By getting to the point immediately.





“The most effective query letters get into the specifics from the very first line,” write the editors in Writer’s Market. “It’s important to remember that a query is a call to action, not a listing of features and benefits.”

Learn how to write query letters that sell articles by reading books like The Writers Digest Guide To Query Letters. Learn from successful writers, and create your own style.

Here’s an example of my query to the editors at MSN Health

Query Letter Example for a Magazine Article – A Health Pitch

Dear (MSN Health Editor),

You might not think that tanning, spirituality, and nasal sprays have anything in common, but they do. They all contain qualities that can cause people to become addicted.






For instance, “tanorexia” is becoming increasingly common among university students – it’s an unhealthy dependence on or addiction to tanning, with withdrawal symptoms similar to alcohol and drug addictions.

In 1,000 words, this slideshow – tentatively titled “Solutions to Unusual Addictions” – will describe possible treatments for 10 uncommon addictions. I’ll cite psychologists, addictions counselors, and research studies to provide sound medical support and helpful information.

The possibilities include addictions to nasal spray, chewing gum, exercise, laxatives, health food (orthorexia nervosa), spirituality, reading, extreme sports, and shoplifting. As I research this topic and talk to the experts, I expect to find a few slightly different options.

Can I write this article – or a version of it – for MSN Health?

Best regards,

Laurie

The Adventurous Writer

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(My email signature line has since changed! Now, I list all my ebooks.)

Tips for Writing Query Letters

I’ve written for the MSN Health editors before, so:

  • I simply signed off as “Laurie”
  • I didn’t need to mention my clips or where I’ve been published before.
  • The query letter didn’t have to be long. I’ve learned that those editors prefer a brief description of my article ideas. In fact, they prefer short query letters because they save time and are easier to share with fellow editors.
  • I ended with a question, or call to action. “Can I write this article for MSN Health?” (please please please please)
  • I describe how I’ll obtain my information: I’ll cite psychologists, addictions counselors, etc.

To learn what happens after you sell the article, read When You Get a Freelance Writing Assignment – Steps for Writers.

Fellow scribes, do you have any comments, suggestions, or questions about query letters or magazine articles? Post them below!



8 Responses

  1. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen says:

    Hello Folashade,

    That’s great that you’re studying freelance journalism — I hope you have a long, successful writing career!

    I’m glad this article helped, and hope you find more tips on Quips and Tips 🙂

    All good things,
    Laurie

  2. Folashade Badmos says:

    Thank you for this article. I am studying freelance journalism.My assignment is to write three article ideas for three different magazines’ editors. This article really help because I have no idea on how to go about it before I read your article.

  3. Laurie PK says:

    Here are great 3 questions from a fellow scribe about the “10 Ingenious Medical Treatments” article that I wrote for MSN Health:

    Did you first learn of a few treatments then decide to research more?
    Yes, in all my assignments, I first learn a few interesting facts first – and then after I win an assignment, I’ll dig deeper for more, and more in-depth, information.

    Did your query letter say the title would be “10 Ingenious Medical Treatments” or did that become the title after you found the number you thought would be the best to write about?
    I’d pitched the ideas as “unusual jobs in health care”, and the MSN Health editors asked me to slant it towards unusual medical treatments…which is a prime example of why you shouldn’t write articles on spec! Always pitch your idea, so they can help you figure out how best to write the article.

    Did you interview the people you quoted in each treatment or were they quotes from other articles you had read?
    I never quote from secondary sources. I always get my information from primary sources, via email, over the phone, or in person.

    Thanks for your questions — and keep them coming!

  4. Laurie PK says:

    Thanks for your comment, Gigi!

    I think this query is a little short for a magazine you haven’t written for before. For a new publisher/editor, I’d add a line describing past credits, education, etc – stuff relevant to the article. I think I have an example of that in my “example of a successful query to Reader’s Digest” post.

    Actually, here’s what I say to editors I haven’t written for before: “My credits include MSN Health, Health, Woman’s Day, Reader’s Digest, Glow, and More. I’m the Feature Writer for Psychology Suite101; my degrees are in Psychology and Education.”

    I’d love to write for MSN Lifestyle, too! I can’t find their guidelines, either 🙁 . I know the channels all have different editors, but I don’t know how to contact them. MSN Health was easier, since they have their guidelines posted on their page!

    I hadn’t considered emailing the editors and asking…and I don’t think I would do it unless I’d worked with the editor before. They’re busy – really nice people, but really busy – and….I don’t know. Something to think about, that’s for sure! Really, what have you got to lose? They won’t blacklist you…so a short, polite inquiry might get you the right contact.

    Keep us posted if you do it! I love stories of risks that panned out…

    – Laurie

  5. Gigi says:

    I’d like to say what a nice, practical article. I haven’t written a query letter in some time and it’s good to see a clear, accepted example. (By the way, I remember reading your article.) Would this query work as a first-time query for a company? I also have a second question. I’m interested in writing for the MSN Lifestyle channel, but I can’t find guidelines. Do you know where I should look or who I could contact? Or would it be acceptable or looked down upon to send a short email to the editors of the Health channel asking where to send my query? Any and all help is appreciated.
    Thank you.

  6. monica says:

    Thanks for posting this. I was just sending out a pitch to a magazine and wasn’t sure of the protocol given that I’ve written for them before. This came in handy. Thanks!

  1. November 17, 2010

    […] from some particularly well-known freelance websites (Freelance Switch, The Adventurous Writer + again) and by digging-up some of my more successful early pitches, I am going to re-pitch some of my […]

  2. October 8, 2013

    […] You wouldn’t believe how many people fail to read the publication before they pitch a query! As an editor, this was my nightmare. I ran a magazine for the youth work industry, and would receive pitches about unrelated ideas in the social work field. The reason you check the publication is to see what they’ve published before is twofold: 1) so you don’t waste the editor’s time; and 2) to find out the writing and article style they like. If you can write something in the correct style, you’re already halfway to a pitching a successful query letter. […]

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