When I had my first phone session with my mentor, Carol Tice, she advised me to start sending out query letters immediately. I thought it was great advice, put it on my "to do" list...and there it sits.
I'm not usually a procrastinator, so why can't I seem to get my feet moving on this one project? I think it's a deadly combination of two factors: Being insecure about my query-letter writing abilities and having no specific deadline.
The first factor is simple. I'm just not used to writing for the printed press. The few times I have done it, either the editor contacted me first, or the editor wanted to see the complete article so I didn't have to query. So, my experience with writing query letters is next to nil. Oh, I know how to do them in theory. I've even edited query letters that have gone on to win assignments. But as for writing them myself? Nope.
Insecurity, however, is not my sole excuse for procrastinating. After all, I've never been afraid to jump in the middle of a project which required me to expand my knowledge base. No, the real killer for me has been the lack of a deadline. I've learned the hard way that if I don't have a due date, even a self-imposed one, on a project, it's likely to keep getting shifted to the bottom of my "to do" list. Conversely, the minute I have a due date, the project moves up on my list of priorities and I complete it--often long before it's due.
I've decided it's time to start sending out query letters as my mentor suggested I do way back in May. To overcome my concerns about my inexperience, I've purchased a wonderful book by Angela Hoy called QUERY LETTERS THAT WORKED! Real Queries That Landed $2K+ Writing Assignments. My goal is to finish reading it by the weekend. Additionally, to overcome my tendency to put off projects that don't have deadlines, I've set one: By August 31, 2011, I will have five to ten query letters in circulation. By September 30, 2011, I will consistently keep ten to fifteen query letters in circulation at all times.
After all, the more lines you set out, the more fish you are likely to catch. And while I've never been much interested in fish, a few extra dollars in my banking account would be very welcome.
So wish me luck, everyone. I'm off to write a query!
How are your query-writing skills?
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