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(Meta) Life Changingly Awesome Query Letter Part 5: Tiger Beat

Categories: This Writer's Life.
(In order to allow you, the reader, to play along at home and fully  
utilize the time-tested, mother-approved formula that make LCAQ’s so,  
so damn successful, I’m going to walk you through the steps I take  
when crafting these timeless phenomenon’s of top shelf journalism.)

(First: always find the name of the editor of the section you’re pitching,  
unless you know for a fact that they don’t like you because you  
accidentally got drunk at a writing conference and called them an  
“ugly faced sellout”, at which point it’s probably better to stick to  
the editor-in-chief)

Dear Editor-in-Chief Whose Name I Couldn’t Find Online,

(The lede’s got to hook them in right away and show off some of your  
writing skillz. Sidenote: Don’t make a habit of replacing s’s with  
z’s) 
Oh, Tiger Beat, sweet, sweet Tiger Beat, ye olde beacon of  
puberty-past. How you must long to dramatize the alarming effects  
that teen idols have on 13 year old girl psyches. How perfect your  
pictures were for the collages girls used to give to their BFFs with  
ransom-esque words like “Boy Krazy” and “Hottie” juxtaposed over  
pictures of Justin Timberlake and that guy who played AC Slater. Do  
you not pine for the pre-Facebook days when kids still read things  
that weren’t posted on their friends “walls”? Don’t you wish you knew  
what a “wall” was?

(Ok. Although this is sort of an advanced concept, I recommend that–
while displaying your intimate knowledge of the magazine you’re  
pitching– you feel free to speculate philosophically about the  
meaning of said magazine’s name)
Well, fear not. Your magazine is  
called Tiger Beat for a reason, although that reason isn’t all that  
clear to me. It is neither about Tigers nor about musical beats and  
none of your reporters seem to have local ties to zoos, which–while  
puzzling– is unimportant. I think too many people overlook the  
subtlety of a name like Tiger Beat. Perhaps you’re giving a subtle  
homage to Colin Farrell’s American movie debut in “Tigerland”, which  
also had nothing to do with tigers but did have several hotties who’d  
look above average on collages.

(Now that they know where you’re coming from and what you know, drop  
the full idea on them in a short, interesting paragraph. Be very specific and try
to identify where you will place it in the mag so that editors will feel like you
actually read the magazine and didn’t just hear someone talking about it while browsing
Forever 21 in the mall.
)

Moving on, my  idea is simple. I wish to spend an entire day participating in  
various athletic/intellectual/social-emotional contests of the body/
mind/soul with Kevin Alexander Clark–the former teen heart throb  
from School of Rock and a mutual bearer of the Kevin Alexander name/
stamp. Although the details are still “iffy”, let’s just say there  
will be a Slip N’ Slide off, a You’ve Got Served style dance off, and  
some sort of left handed arm wrestling contest. I assume you have a  
legal department in case sh*t gets real. The piece will consist of  
several sections detailing these athletic feats coupled with the  
Juiciest (random capitalization? So in right now!!) of details re: KAC’s lady
friends, haircuts, and turbulent  trip through puberty. And just because
I like you,if you give me 24  hours, I can probably deliver 3600 words
and several pull quotes from Raven Symone Pearman, gratis.
(Oooohhh. Here’s a teaching point: Always use words that you understand. 
For example, I didn’t realize that gratis meant free, and now I’ve  
potentially screwed myself out of my rent money for the month of  
October)

(Now that you’ve unleashed your idea it’s time to throw down your credentials so
they know why  you’re the one who should be writing the article)

But maybe Sweet Tiger Beat, you still remain on the proverbial fence. Maybe you still  
doubt that someone can penetrate the soul of a method actor like KAC.  
Well to help assuage said fears, here are a two FAQ’s about my life  
as a professional writer to help get you all aboard the Kevin  
Alexander writing train express.

1. In your estimation, how many articles have you, Kevin Alexander,  
published?
Answer: First of all, I never estimate. Never! I just know. And the  
answer is roughly 70.

2. Why should you write this article? I don’t think you’ve ever read  
a Tiger Beat.
Answer: You don’t have to “open” a Tiger Beat to know that they’re  
dropping the hottest celebrity journalism outside of Eastern Europe.  
And to answer your first question, I have to believe that God and at  
least one of my parents put me on this earth to do two things: 1. Get  
arrested for “disturbing the peace” at a Third Eye Blind Concert and  
2. Win Tiger Beat a National Magazine Award and–as the magistrate at  
the Hartford Civil Court can attest– I’m already halfway there.

(Now that you’ve wrapped your query in such a tightly constructed,  
finely tuned package of words, it’s time to bring it home. I  
recommend a pithy little comment about how busy you are so they  
realize you’re the real thing and then some sort of pop culture  
reference sign off incorporating the title of the magazine. Editors  
LOVE this.)

Alright TG, I’ve got to be off. It seems Facebook has alerted me that  
someone has both “poked” me and written on my wall and I need to  
update my Myspace page to include a blazin’ Justin Timberlake remix I  
just encountered on the Internet 2.0. You know where to find me (Oh  
yeah. Include your contact info at the bottom)
. I feel like I’ve  
known you forever.

(Tiger) Beat it,

Kevin Alexander

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10 Responses to (Meta) Life Changingly Awesome Query Letter Part 5: Tiger Beat

  1. Sapphyre says:

    Never lose your sense of humor! It’s critical! :) Ok so I like quoting movies. As an aspiring writer I enjoyed the humor and took careful note of the ‘teaching’ parts. Thanks for the smile :)

  2. Kevin Alexander says:

    Leigh Ann– welcome to WD. We’re thrilled you’re joining us… and thank you Mindy for your kind words as well.

    Kelley,

    Not to get all technical about it, but I think the reason that editors spell lede l-e-d-e is because, originally, when they were printing newspapers back in the day they did it in lead (the metal) and they wanted to avoid confusion. It’s just one of those weird journalism things… sort of like calling a paragraph a "graf" or drinking too much whiskey.

  3. Mindy says:

    Your ‘query’ letters make me laugh out loud every time I read them. Thank-you.

  4. Whose stupid idea was it start spelling the word "lead"
    as "L-e-d-e?" I had an editor who did that at the newspaper
    where I used to work. If I’d been the publisher instead of
    a lowly staff writer, I would have fired him for it. Editors
    are supposed to know how to spell.

  5. Leigh Ann says:

    "(random capitalization? So in right now!!)"

    Ha ha ha! Very witty. This is the first time I’ve read your blog (recent subscriber). Thanks for the laugh.

    – Leigh Ann

  6. Kevin Alexander says:

    Genevieve,

    My favorite part of your comment was when you asked to call me Kevin (which, of course, you may NOT call me. Mr. Alexander or Sir is really the only thing acceptable), and then went ahead and called B. Franklin, "Frank":)

    Maybe he works at Tiger Beat in which case, I’m going to assume they’re going to "wait and see" on my query. Or maybe I should just go over there.

    Thanks again, Genevieve.

  7. Genevieve Cancienne says:

    To comment on the criticism thing, Kevin (may I call you Kevin? No? Damn.), since my stuff is hit and miss as well I think you’re right about accepting constructive criticism gracefully and also bieng humble enough not to delete it from the comments. Pointers from intelligent, well-read colleagues is invaluable, I think. However, Frank’s criticism was not constructive as much as it was just mean. It actually had the word "dufus" in it. Also, it came from another writer. Dufus criticism from readers and editors is one thing, but from another WRITER? It’s treason. Hang him from his toes.

    At any rate, I think this was my favorite part of the blog was "random capitalization? So in right now!!"

  8. Kevin Alexander says:

    Wow. This certainly sparked some emotion… Well, as a teaching point, I guess it should be pointed out that the LCAQL’s are, in fact, satirical and their smarmy, desperate, nepotistic (?) tone is probably the worst thing you could do if you seriously wanted to get published. If anything–and I think Mr. Franklin proves this point rather effectively– it’s a how-to on HOW NOT to get your work published. And a "finger snapping poser" is exactly how I imagine the voice for this piece, minus the finger snapping, which I’ll confess I hadn’t thought of.

    And to answer your question, Sierra, it simply comes with the territory. Putting your work in the public sphere–especially satirical humor and personal material that you are putting out on a blog– invites public opinion and not everyone is going to like said work. And that’s perfectly fine. Like I’ve said before, I will never censor someone’s opinion on the blog just because they don’t like my work, unless it is offensive or profanity laced or terribly hurtful. Plus–to be honest–sometimes I write crappy stuff. I wish i didn’t, and I try hard to think of things that will be entertaining and writer-focused, etc, but the reality of a blog is it’s unedited, less scripted and more raw hit or miss material. So there will (and have been, of course) times when sh*ts not going to be as sweet as I wish it was.

    Anyway, sorry to drop essentially another blog entry in the comments, but I felt like this was an important moment to make this sort of thing clear. And again, please no one copy and paste my queries and send them off to magazines. You might find yourself in the midst of a restraining order.

    I love you all.

    KA

  9. Sierra says:

    And the award for worst sense of humor goes to… B. FRANKLIN! (Cheers, applause, etc.)

    On a serious note: This guy is a great example of one the reasons so many writers are plagued with self-doubt. What do you do, Kevin, when someone (specifically your audience) simply doesn’t get you?

    On a less serious note: Personally, as a former frequent reader of Tiger Beat (in sixth grade was IN LOVE with J.T.T. – AKA Jonathan Taylor Thomas- AKA the middle son on “Home Improvement,” and my pre-teen hormones were shamelessly seduced by the “8 Free Giant Posters Inside!” advertisements), I think they would love your pitch! I would also send it to Bop, Teen Beat, 16, and if you’re feeling really ambitious… Super Teen!
    Good luck. ;)

  10. B. Franklin says:

    This has got to be one of the most annoying rants from a smarmy, desperate, nepotistic, wet-behind-the-ears dufus, I have ever read in my 51 years of life. If I opened a query letter written in this fashion, I would immediately shit can it and take out a restraining order for good measure. This brash, try-to-be-clever rambling will only get you shoved back into the elevator and a quick call to security. Editors need dependable, professional writers who show up to meetings on time and meet deadlines, not some finger snapping, poser who doesn’t know the first thing about writing. Nice try. Neexxxxttt!

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