Shaping and Sending Your Query Letter: The Preparation You MUST Do Before You Write, And What to Do Afterwards

To every piece of writing there is a time of preparation and a time of promotion.

Whether it’s a text you send to a friend, a personal social media post, or an email you write as part of an autoresponder campaign, you’ll take the time to prepare it for your audience, and then send it to them.

This is the prequel AND the sequel to my previous article, “Get Recognized As the Expert You Are: How to Structure Your Query Letter to Achieve Expert Status By Following 4 Key Points”.

In this article I’m going to give you 5 points to follow to prepare your query letter for writing, and 2 points to follow for after you’ve written it.

 

Preparation Point 1: Determine Audience & Their Needs

The first thing you do to prepare is the first thing that you always do when writing: you decide who your audience is and learn everything about them. Who you’re actually talking to and what their needs are.

Of course, this is dictated by the niche you’re in. Say, for example, you write in the technology field, maybe focusing on software. That would be your audience. Geeks, managers, marketing directors, both in software-development companies and publishing companies.

What are their needs? If you’ve gone through and decided who these people are and what you’re talking to them about, this is easy. As easy as learning everything you possibly can about a group of people and then scouring your research for pain points can be.

Basically you just want to find something that these people are talking about right now, or something that their customers are complaining about. Something that will catch their attention because they already want it.

 

Preparation Point 2: Create a Solution

Then you create a solution to their needs.

What you don’t want to do is to get points one and two mixed up. You don’t want to create a solution and then go out there and find a need for it. That’s never a good idea.

You want to actually find a need, something that’s pressing, something that’s urgent, a bleeding-neck sort of a need.

Theeennn you want to provide a sound solution that you can bundle up in a nice little 500- to 1,500-word article, 5- to 20-minute interview, or half hour stage presentation, whatever your solution ends up being for your audience.

 

Preparation Point 3: Find Where the Buffalo Roam

Now, this is a silly phrase, but it works — “Where do the buffalo roam?”

In other words, you know who your audience is, but what magazines are they reading? What blogs are they tuning into? What speeches are they listening to?

Do they go to TEDx conferences? What are the seminars they’re going to? What are the conferences they’re attending? What online publishers are they tuning into? What is their attention being drawn toward?

You might need to call a few of these guys or send them an email and do a small survey. Find out what they’re reading and what’s popular in the industry. You’re going to have to do some research here to find out where your target audience roams in order to make the next point the most effective.

 

Preparation Point 4: Big Idea

Of course, once you know where they’re at, then you need to come up with a game plan to give them consistent information. This begins with a big idea and finishes with point number 5.

Continuing our example with the technology world, it’s important to know that a tech company’s resellers will promote that company to their customers.

So, if a company writes a piece of software or a program, they want to quickly tell their resellers or affiliates about it because they will spread that far and wide.

So the marketing department in this company will give these affiliates some marketing and educational materials about their new software. White papers, data sheets, spec information and the like.

They’ll make new announcements, share a new logo or brand. They might even have online assets like banner ads that they’ll send out to their “valued-added reseller” or “resell chain”.

One of these things becomes your big idea.

Let’s just use white papers as an example. The big idea for a white paper is this: it’s a way for an affiliate to soft sell to get people in, to get a consultation, and then to sell them on the new software solution made by this company.

 

Preparation Point 5: Thin Slice

So now I take that little topic about white papers and I “thin slice” it.

A white paper is made up of a number of different elements. It has information before and after. There are specific ways to open and close. And how do you give historical value? How do you weave the white paper to be unbiased, but still showcase the value of its subject?

You can thinly slice all these intricacies and nuances of a white paper in the tech arena. Then each slice, or a bundle of 3 or 4 slices, becomes a topic for the introduction of a query letter: a speech that you could give, a presentation, a brief interview for a media outlet connected to your targeted tech companies.

 

Promotion Point 1: Spread the Word

After writing your query letter, spread the word. Send out between 3 and 20 query letters every week to different outlets.

If you get refused one time, don’t worry about it. If you really want to be published, you really want to be interviewed, you really want to go give a speech, just keep sending it back to them.

Unless the editor tells you “absolutely no”, they’re always looking for new information.

If you’ve thin-sliced your topic well enough, then you should have 50 to 100 different topics, articles, presentations, and conversation starters all lined up pretty succinctly and ready to send out!

Now here’s the thing. You do this until you’re picked up, but don’t propose to do the same interview or article for 2 different, competing outlets. Word gets around really fast and they’ll quickly end the relationship.

Make each slice of content exclusive for the outlet that picks it up, but remember you can always break a thin slice down further and share these thinner slices with the same or a different outlet.

In this way you can go to a deeper level and talk about different nuances that will make that thing really, really effective. Talk about it and package it all up together in a way that people might not have heard or talked about before.

 

Promotion Point 2: Write Your Byline

If you consistently get your name out there and get published, you might get picked up to do a regular gig. For something like this remember that you need a byline.

What’s a byline, you ask?

A byline is information about you and how they get back to you. It includes your name, a tiny USP statement about what you do, and contact information — how to get to your website, etc.

If you’re smart, then you’ll also add a call to action in there: “For more information on this and a full report on this topic, visit joshuaboswell.com/specialreportonwhitepapers.”

The byline is usually included at the bottom of the article, inside the introduction somewhere, or on the webpage where your information is published.

This how you prepare and promote the query letter.

As I’ve said, you can write your way to fame and fortune because once you’re a recognized expert in a field, then people will come to you instead of you always chasing them. When you can do that, then you’ve got peace of mind, consistent income, and a great lifestyle!

But your writing won’t come together without preparation, and it won’t get read without proper promotion.

Share in the comments below your experiences of being seen as an expert, whether through different media channels or some other way. Or ask whatever questions you may have! I’d love to help out.

 

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