Sample of a Successful Query Letter to Reader’s Digest


Here’s the query letter that landed me my first article in Reader’s Digest – it’s a sample of a successful query letter that you can use to win your own writing assignments.

Sample of a Successful Query Letter to Reader’s DigestIn The Renegade Writer’s Query Letters That Rock: The Freelance Writer’s Guide to Selling More Work Faster , Diana Burrell and  Linda Formichelli share their advice on pitching the perfect story. They offer real examples of successful query letters that earned great assignments from major magazines.

Another way to learn how to write query letters and sell your writing is to do what writers have done throughout the ages: take classes from journalists. If you’re considering college, read How to Decide if You Should Major in Journalism. Formal education isn’t for everybody – but it sure is for me! 🙂





“I’m not a very good writer, but I’m an excellent rewriter.” ~ James Michener. Fellow scribes, remember that rewriting is the key to good writing! My favorite way to write is work on an article over three weeks. I’ll hack away a little bit every day, sometimes letting two days go by without looking at it, always finding new ways to improve my writing. I know it’s done when I simply can’t make it better.

Okay, on to an example of a successful query letter to Reader’s Digest. I should’ve found out the editor’s name — now, I cringe when I look at the “Dear Editors” opener. Of course, I still do it today when I pitch to magazines whose editors are unknown to me…but it’s one of those “freelance writing rules” you shouldn’t break (addressing your query letter to a real editor, that is).

Sample of a Successful Query Letter to Reader’s Digest

Even though I broke a couple of “writing rules”, I sold the article and still write for Reader’s Digest regularly.  For another example of one of my query letters, read How Can I Improve on This Query Letter to Literary Agents?

Editors
Reader’s Digest

September 24, 2007

Dear Editors,

I searched the Reader’s Digest archives for eco-friendly Valentine’s Day tips and came up empty. Would your readers be interested in 10 green ways to say “I love you” — not only to their partners, but to the planet too?

Go Green on Valentine’s Day:
Ten Eco-Friendly Ways to Say “I Love You”

These timeless ways to express love come with a healthy green twist.





1. Write an original or classic poem on hemp, bamboo, organic cotton or banana stalk paper.
2. Send fragrant, organic flowers to the office.
3. Indulge with fair trade chocolate.
4. Dig for conflict-free diamonds.
5. Tantalize your tastebuds at a classy vegan, vegetarian or “green” restaurant.
6. Toast your love with organic wine, beer or liquor.
7. Sip organic champagne from recycled green glass goblets.
8. Explore vintage shops for unique, chic recycled jewelry.
9. Give eco-friendly bath bombs, body creams and fragrances.
10. Get romantic with natural massage oils, soy candles, and organic lingerie.

Sample of a Successful Query Letter to Reader’s Digest

Sample of a Successful Query Letter to Reader’s Digest

In 500 words, these 10 tips will include the most recent research findings and a brief explanation, which will make it easy to say “I love you” in an earth-friendly way. Eye-catching sidebars include 5 Green Valentine’s Activities for Kids and Green Adventures: 5 Eco-Tours for Lovers (an extra 300 words each).

Are you interested in this article – or a version of it – for Reader’s Digest? If so, I can have it to you within five business days, or whatever our contract stipulates.

To read my most current articles, click on the links in green below. I write for various publications (Good Times, Esteem, Today’s Health and Wellness, alive, cahoots) as well as weekly articles for the local newspaper. My degrees are in Psychology and Education.

Thanks for your time,

Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen is “Freelancing full-time. Will write for food.”

(This last section is my signature line in all my emails.)

That’s how some writers write successful query letters! To see how the article looks on the Reader’s Digest website, read Go Green on Valentine’s Day.

For a few freelancing tips for writers from Reader’s Digest, read 10 Writing Tips from a Reader’s Digest Editor.

If you have any quips or tips for successful query letters, please comment below — I’d love to hear from you! If you want to write for a living, read How to Become a Freelance Writer.




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4 thoughts on “Sample of a Successful Query Letter to Reader’s Digest

  • Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen Post author

    Thanks for sharing your valuable and interesting thoughts on my query letter to Reader’s Digest! I think I’ll rewrite this article, and include your comments…..

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  • Dawn

    Following the format of the book shown above (Query Letters that Rock, which is fantastic!), I decided to go through Laurie’s query and point out what I imagine the Reader’s Digest editors liked about it.

    I posted this on the popular writing forum, http://www.absolutewrite.com, and Laurie requested that I add it to her blog as well. So here it is…

    Great query letter and congrats on Reader’s Digest!! In my opinion, you have several elements of a successful query here:

    1). Right out of the gate, you showed that you have knowledge of the publication, did your research. This would catch my attention as an editor. You found a gap and are filling it for them.

    2). Headline layout is extremely eye-catching… I know writers differ on this, but I like the headline centered and bolded on the page. Also… of course, quality query aside, you have hit upon a hot topic and given it a seasonal twist. Who *wouldn’t* buy this article? If I’m an editor, in your headline I see three words that will make my readers pick up this issue for this article: Green, Eco-Friendly, Valentine’s Day (and the 10 Ways is always a classic!)

    * Your query is very easy to read, the list works extremely well, and leaves no doubt in the editor’s mind that all 10 of your reasons are solid.

    *Concise paragraph following your list expands upon your main ideas. Sidebars are a great added touch.

    *Five days is a great turn-around. If I’m an editor on deadline with a hole to fill, I would jump on this piece. BTW, may I borrow your sentence “or whatever our contract stipulates?” That’s a great way to word it, giving your self more time if it’s available. (While also assuming a contract will be sent, which is not always the case with smaller publications, so it brings up the topic and presents you as a professional.)

    * Good, short bio with impressive credentials. I like how you included the links in a complete sentence. Nice touch. (May I borrow that as well? LOL)

    Laurie, thanks for sharing this.