The Ninety-Nine Percent

kurtz-karen2Thomas Edison famously said, “Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration.” The saying holds true in writing as much as any endeavor. Authors enjoy the spark of creativity and moments where words spill easily onto paper, yet they must also take on the “perspiration” part of the equation. For those seeking to publish in periodicals, this includes creating a well-crafted query letter.

During the February Pensters’ meeting, guest speaker Karen B. Kurtz stressed the importance of criteria research prior to submission. She advised consulting Writer’s Market or the publication itself to determine whether a proposed article is relevant to the publication. This helps prevent the author from wasting time or money submitting to non-relevant publications.

Even in situations where an article and publication are a good fit, a little homework can reveal potential speed bumps. As some periodicals may have more than one editor, Kurtz recommended addressing correspondence directly to the editor relevant to the topic. A strong one-page query containing a hook, overview, author credentials, and a close is a must. It might also be beneficial to send clips or online links of some of the author’s other published works as attachments to the query.

During the presentation, Karen also introduced her husband Mark. As newlyweds, they became a writing/photography team and have since collaborated on books and hundreds of articles in periodicals. The most important lessons learned while querying publications over the years were highlighted in the nine-page handout Kurtz provided for attendees. Included was a list of article criteria for magazines as well as sample query letters.  Another portion, “Know Your Publication Rights” could be a topic for more in-depth focus at a future meeting.


Submitted by: M.M. Jarrell and Jessica Trippe
Photos by: Cleveland Brown