Should My Query Offer a Web Element? - Writer's Digest

Should My Query Offer a Web Element?

Should My Query Offer a Web Element?
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"Mountain Bike magazine and our Web site, Mountain Bike Daily, don''t have much overlap as far as stories. We try to keep the Web site fresher and more timely (a new product tested every day, race results, etc.). We do post the editor''s Trailhead column (but he also writes a weekly Web column) and a few other stories, but they''re not the main focus of the site. It''s really its own creation, and Mark Riedy (who''s in charge) plans the editorial. So for our purposes, no, tying a story to a Web site doesn''t improve a freelancer''s chance of getting a story accepted. But certainly, the short sidebars, charts, etc., do help (but not necessarily as a Web tie-in). In this day of ''chunk'' journalism, the more a story can be broken down into small, readable bits, the better its chances. It''s pretty rare that we''re going to run a 3,000-word story anymore. In fact, I end up really breaking down the long features we do have into chunks." —Beth Strickland, Editor at large, Mountain Bike (

"I''d be impressed with the insight and initiative demonstrated by a writer who would go to the trouble to think about how my magazine could best be served. Even if I had to reject a specific query, I would keep in mind that I like the way the writer thinks.

"[The kind of material I like best for the site] depends on the article, and what I expected to accomplish with the online extension of it. Whether I choose short sidebars or bulkier items, both should have context and be palatable to the online reader. I believe the online magazine should be a well-developed entity.... The short sidebars and blurbs have context as well. And of course, both should be pointing the reader back to the print article." —Ann Abbott, Editor, Watercolor Magic (

"Yes, because it shows the writer is thinking about ''presentation of the article in today''s world. It''s also to the writer''s benefit as we generally offer additional payment for such extras.

"Personally, I like short sidebars and blurbs online. While charts are wonderful in print products, on the Web there still are too many limitations on presentation." —Melanie Rigney, Editor, Writer''s Digest (

"If the proposed story idea is strong, on-target, cites good sources and the writer has the credentials to back her up, the lack of online resources in the initial query won''t kill the idea, but we will request that online resources, such as relevant Web sites to check out, URLs for appropriate professional organizations, etc., be part of the completed article.

"The materials that HOW posts on its Web site tend to be short blurbs or bulleted lists; most people hate scrolling and squinting at the screen. We prefer to list the URLs for sites that can provide useful information and hyperlink to these sites." —Ann Weber, Senior Editor, HOW (

"Assuming that the idea behind the query is a good one, offering material for the Web site is a great way to get my attention. Today''s writers must acknowledge that the Internet is every bit as important to a magazine''s health as the print copy itself. Too, writers must realize due often it''s the editor who is responsible for filling the Web site with material while he or she also fills the traditional print version. This takes an enormous amount of time, and writers who can help us out will certainly be remembered.

"I prefer short items—Web readers won''t muddle through long blocks of text. Short, hands-on writing exercises that can be presented in list form are my favorite." —Peter Blocksom, Editor, Fiction Writer (


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