Ask Wendy: Your Writing and Publishing Questions Answered

By Wendy Burt-ThomasWendy Burt

Q: Should I interview experts BEFORE I query a magazine or wait to see if the article is assigned?

 
A: As a full-time freelance writer, I’ve learned that time is money. With that said, my personal preference is to NOT interview any experts until I know I’ve got a paid assignment. What I do recommend, however, is that you LINE UP interviews before you query a magazine.
 
You’ll need to clearly explain to potential interviewees that you’re pitching an idea to a magazine with no guarantee that the piece will be assigned, but that you’d like to cite them as your experts in your query letter.
 
Two exceptions to the rule: 1) If a fabulous opportunity arises to interview someone (e.g. a celebrity or a famous anthropologist who’s about to embark on a 6-month African safari), interview them while you can; and 2) If you’re not sure that your expert is the right source for your article, do a pre-interview scouting session. 
 
The Writer's Digest Guide to Query LettersWendy Burt-Thomas is a full-time freelance writer, editor and copywriter with more than 1,000 published pieces. Her work has appeared in such varied publications as MSNBC.com, NYTimes.com, Family Circle and American Fitness. She is the author of three books: Oh, Solo Mia! The Hip Chick’s Guide to Fun for Work It, Girl! 101 Tips for the Hip Working Chick (McGraw-Hill, 2003); and The Writer’s Digest Guide to Query Letters (Writer’s Digest, 2008). Visit her at http://www.GuideToQueryLetters.com 

or her blog, http://askWendy.wordpress.com.

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