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How do I know when my query is good enough?

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I've got an article idea for an upcoming theme for Ask - actually, more than that, I've got the article, because I wanted to be completely sure I could cover this topic in the right # of words before I even tried to query. I wrote it, revised it until the length and reading level were right, then had my 6-year-old (who reads at a 5th grade level but with a 5-year-old's attention span) read it. He seemed to find it genuinely interesting, and understood the concepts well enough for being at the bottom of their age range.

So yeah, more work than I'm supposed to have done, but at least I know that if they take it, I can deliver something halfway decent, right?

And I've written the query letter. And edited it. And edited it. And rewrote it. And stared at it nauseously. And re-read every article I've ever seen on writing a query letter until I could recite them from memory, then edited it again.

How do I know when it's ready to go? How do I decide it's good enough?  :help2

Honestly, I think writing the article first may have caused me to become a little too attached to it. And if it doesn't get into this theme issue, I doubt I'll find another home for it, so now I'm stressing out that even if the article is good, if the query isn't as good then the poor thing will never go anywhere. :(
#1 - February 23, 2018, 11:53 AM

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Brandy, do you have a critique group? If so, give it to them for feedback, and especially ask them if there's any confusion in the letter. If you don't have a group or partners, you can post for critique here: https://www.scbwi.org/boards/index.php?board=73.0

As you gain experience, you'll feel more confident querying theme-related magazines without having to write the article first. Do remember that if you get a rejection it doesn't *necessarily* mean anything was wrong with the query or the article. They'll simply get more good queries than they can take for one issue, or they may get multiple writers subbing pieces that are too much alike for them to use more than one. Lots of factors go into their choices.    :goodluck
#2 - February 23, 2018, 12:26 PM
Adventures of Jenna V. Series
Caroline Grade Mysteries
The Journey of Emilie
Anne Bradstreet: America's Puritan Poet
www.marciahoehne.com

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You have great advice already. Keep in mind that no writing is wasted. You've learned from this. Also, keep in mind that other magazines like interesting topics and may not have themes or may have a similar theme in a later year.  This site may help you find one: http://www.evelynchristensen.com/mags.html
#3 - February 23, 2018, 05:31 PM
Website: http://www.debbievilardi.com/
Twitter: @dvilardi1

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Thanks! I don't have a critique group yet, for this kind of thing - all of my writer friends write only for adults, mostly fiction, and would have no idea what a nonfiction children's magazine is looking for. I do need to join one for this kind of stuff!
#4 - February 24, 2018, 10:21 AM

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Join the closed (writers only; no editors or agents) Facebook group, Sub It Club, hosted by Heather Burnell & Dana Carey. Plenty of members post their queries for feedback.
#5 - February 24, 2018, 12:14 PM
DUCKWORTH, THE DIFFICULT CHILD (Atheneum, 2019)
INCOGNOLIO (Janx Press, 2017)
CRASHING EDEN  (Solstice, 2012)
OTTO GROWS DOWN (Sterling, 2009)

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Great advice here! And I just want to agree with others - no writing is ever wasted. . .  even if this isn't THE ONE for you, you've learned something from this experience. . . .

GOOD LUCK!!!!!
#6 - February 24, 2018, 06:04 PM
Freaky Funky Fish ( Running Press Kids Spring 2021)

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Michael, thank you for the pointer to Sub It Club! I just joined!
#7 - February 25, 2018, 10:17 AM

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