Friday, May 8, 2009

30-Day Persistence Challenge: Finding the fun in querying

As I mentioned last week, you'll only be able to access your persistence if you find your motivation. One of those forms of motivation, and my favorite, is joy. Fun! Play!

I know: What does this have to do with querying, that cringe-worthy and long trudge toward more work?

Here's how I explained it to a prospective coaching client this week:

Every story idea is a puzzle piece. Your job as a freelancer and marketer is to find the puzzle into which it fits. The puzzle? That's the right publication and the right editor.

The point is to find the right fit--not to shove something someone hates down their throats.

So often, as freelancers, we assume that, since we hate PR people calling and emailing with unwanted press releases, that editors do the same. But it's my considered belief that it's not the same. We aren't used car salesmen trying to foist a lemon on an unsuspecting public. Do you think your story ideas are lemons? I don't.

Think of it another way: What if you were trying to sell a car that didn't work too well but weren't lying and telling an young working class guy for whom a car was essential to make money that the car works just fine. What if, instead, you market it to amateur mechanics as a fixer with great potential return on investment.

It's the same car, but a different approach.

Once you find the right approach, you can have fun trying to find just the right amateur mechanic for your well-loved and well-used car. You can have confidence in what you're selling. You can enjoy the process of getting involved in amateur mechanics communities, and enjoying the personalities of people who love taking a junker and making it mint again.

That's what we do with our queries. We don't try to sell a story on, say, the dangers of health savings accounts to a publication that writes about petcare. That's crazy. And we don't even try to sell it to a publication that writes often about market solutions to the healthcare crisis. We send it to a consumer publication that may not have covered it. Or a publication that has written enthusiastically in the past about universal coverage. That's the right puzzle for your puzzle piece.

Now you're closer to a sale, you're sharing your skills and great ideas with a receptive audience, and, not for nothing, you're helping an editor create great content for his readers.

So take those puzzle pieces and look at them another way: They aren't lemons, to mix my metaphors. Any act of offering a story isn't an act of bamboozling. It's a gift. And it can be fun.

What, if anything, do you do to find joy in your pitching?

Photo by Liza31337.


Jennifer Fink said...

Just the motivation I need to stop surfing fellow blogathon blogs! Time to get the queries out...

Anonymous said...


This is a great post. In fact, your entire blog is extremely helpful. It's a great resource.

I try to query only on subjects I'm passionate about. That way, when I'm doing the research and pre-interviewing, I know it'll completely captivate me.

That's not always possible, of course, but when it is, it makes the process much, much easier.

Your fellow blogathon-er,