Category Archives: ASK WENDY your writing question

Need help with your query letter?


Yes, I offer query letter consulting. For $50, you receive:

1. A review of your first-draft, one-page query letter with suggestions/edits

2. A review of a second draft with suggestions/edits

3. Five suggestions for agents/agencies that represent your type of manuscript

I also do consulting on proposals for $40/hour. (checks and PayPal accepted)

New question for Ask Wendy



When writing a query letter for a magazine is it a good idea to do brief interviews before you get the assignment?





My personal preference is to not interview people in advance, but rather to LINE UP interviews. You can explain to potential interviewees that you’re pitching an idea with no guarantee that the article will be assigned, and that you’d like to list  them as your “experts” in your query letter; experts you will interview if the piece is assigned.


If you do decide to interview the people in advance, make it a pre-interview scouting session (scouting for information and direction for the article, and to make sure you’re using the right experts). Otherwise, a two-hour interview that never turns into a story could leave you with a disappointed (or even mad!) expert. 


Hope that helps!



Need a writer, editor or proofreader?


Need a writer, editor or proofreader? 

Lauren Holder Raab provides freelance writing, editing and proofreading services, primarily for authors and literary publications. Projects include books, magazines and websites. For more information, visit

Detailed interview on query letters!


On Friday, May 8 Victoria Mixon will host her interview with me on her blog, 

The focus is mostly on fiction query letters, but feel free to stop by and ask questions on anything related to queries (magazines, nonfiction books, proposals, etc.)

Want to get get published? I’m doing a radio show tomorrow


I’m doing a radio show tomorrow – talking about query letters (getting an agent, book deal, magazine credits): (5pm mt/4pm pst)

Ask Wendy – The Query Queen: What are “fillers”???



What are fillers and how much do they pay?

New! January 2009

New! January 2009



Fillers are those little snippets and one-paragraph factoids you often see in consumer magazines. Sometimes they run them next to larger articles (almost like sidebars or “Did youknow?” blurbs), sometimes they’re scattered throughout the magazine, and other times they’re listed in groups in their own section. A magazine like “Woman’s World” might run a whole page of tips from readers (“I clean my toilets with denture tablets because it’s cheap and safe for my dogs to drink from the toilets!”) and pay $25 or so per idea. I used to write short blurbs for “ePregnancy Magazine” on newsworthy pieces of interest to pregnant moms. The pay wasn’t much – I think $15 for 100 words or so – but each one only took me about 15 minutes, so that’s $60/hour. Other than greeting cards, fillers might have the highest per-word rate of all the types of writing you can do as a beginner. (Ad copy writing pays great per word too, but you usually need more experience.) I highly recommend trying your hand at fillers. It’s great, easy money and you usually get paid faster than you do for longer pieces like feature articles.

Ask Wendy: How do you break into magazines with no published clips?


Question: I’d like to break into magazines but many of them say to send published clips. I don’t have much to send. What should I do?

Answer: First let me point out that while the term “published clips” is just how it sounds, “writing samples,” (a term you’ll also see a lot) can be UNPUBLISHED

NEW! January 2009

NEW! January 2009


 pieces. If you’re writing for say, Parenting Magazine, but don’t have any published clips, you can send a general writing sample of a parenting-related subject.

But let’s assume we’re talking “published clips.” Here are a few ideas:

1. Create a blog or Web site and start posting writing samples so you can just email editors the link. If the pieces get  published, you can update the blog/Web site with a note. “This article appeared in the July issue of…”

2. Write something for another blog or Web site and ask for the archived link so you can email it to editors.

3. Don’t rule out your clips from small publications – like a college newspaper or a company/church newsletter. Just mention the name. You don’t have to go into specifics, apologizing about how small the newsletter was. Most likely, your style of writing will speak for itself. Here’s an example of what I’m suggesting for someone who only wrote for her college newspaper, her church newsletter and her corporate e-newsletter:

“Jane Smith’s work has appeared in The Collegiate, The Glory Church Times and MCI’s corporate publication, Tech Today.”

4. Try to rack up some clips in local and regional publications before pitching to national magazines. Local newspapers and magazines are typically more open to unpublished writers.

5. Look for reputable online portals where you can post sample articles. Just to give you examples of two I’m familiar with: (covers stories, news and people in the Front Range of Colorado) and (right now covers CA, CO, FL, NY, PA, TX, TN and OK) 

6. If you choose to post your unpublished articles on places like, wait until the article gets picked up and runs on another Web site – then send the new site’s link. Some editors are immediately turned off by links to article clearinghouses like Helium.

7. Yes, contests count. Most contests publish their winners’ entries someplace. If you win, place or get honorable mention, say it.

Ask Wendy: Can my (contest) published short story be turned into a novel?


Just got this question from Suzanne: 

Q: I was wondering if I were to enter a short story in a contest, and it is published and well received, can that story be used to turn into a novel ?

A:  For the most part, the answer is yes. You can’t copyright ideas (and turning a story into a novel would mean a complete rewrite). One thing to watch for is if an anthology buys “all rights” – in which case you would not own rights to your own piece anymore. You would still be able to write a novel about the idea, but in terms of using the exact same piece again (like if you ever did a collection of your own short stories), they would own the rights to that story.

Question from Laurel: Why do you recommend authors get an agent?


 Question from author Laurel Bradley ( Given that it is frequently more difficult to get and agent than a publisher, why do you recommend authors get an agent?

I cover this in more depth in Chapter 5 of my new book, “The Writer’s Digest Guide to Query Letters” – but here’s the short version.

1) Many of the large publishing houses won’t even look at unagented manuscripts.

2) An agent can likely negotiate more money than you could on your own.

3) An agent can sell foreign (translation) rights for you. (No work for you but more money!)

**Erin and I received more money for foreign translation rights on our first book than we did for our advance!

4) An agent can negotiate better rights for you. (Think movie rights and audio books)

5) An agent can get your manuscript seen faster. (Jump over the slush pile!)

6) An agent knows the trends in publishing. 

Those are just some of the reasons. I can tell you that I’m such an advocate of using an agent that I got an agent AFTER I got a book deal. Yes, that’s how strongly I feel they can help you.

Thanks for the question, Laurel!