Inappropriate Query Letters

by Joe Lavin

Yo Editor Dude,

would happen if an ordinary guy suddenly got to date a supermodel or hot
actress? And what would happen if that guy then wrote an article all
about his experiences? Well, one thing's for sure. It would be an
exciting piece your readers wouldn't want to miss. Therefore, I would
like to write just such an article for Maxim.

While I
haven't actually begun dating any supermodels or hot actresses yet, I'm
sure it would be easy for a magazine as powerful as Maxim to arrange a
date between myself and a supermodel or hot actress, thus providing me
with the opportunity to write a witty article about the experience.
Perhaps you could set me up with one of your recent cover models. The
one last month didn't really do anything for me, but any of the others
would be fine. Especially that chick from Dawson's Creek. She's sweet.

Trust me. This is one article you won't regret assigning.
Please feel free to contact me anytime this week in order to run the
names of potential dates past me. When you do call me, though, please
use my work number, as my girlfriend does not know about this article.


Dear Editor,

What's the best part of being a journalist? Well, free
stuff, of course. All you have to do is tell people that you would like
to review their product, and voila! they'll turn around and give it to
you for free. How cool is that? As an editor at The New York Times, I'm
sure you know all about this. Readers, however, may not.

This is where I come in. In a front page article, I would like to
showcase exactly how much loot one can get just by dropping the name of
The New York Times. I'm talking free meals, free shows, free software,
free albums, free everything. Give me one week to contact as many people
as I can, and we'll see exactly how much clout the Times really has,
while offering readers a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at the world
of journalism.

I look forward to meeting with you
and discussing this idea further. Oh, also, if you guys have any free
review copies of stuff that you want to get rid of, please feel free to
send any of it to me at the above address. Thanks.


To Whom It May Concern:

Have you ever noticed that magazines just aren't what they
used to be? Ask around, and the answer is practically unanimous.
Magazine are not nearly as vibrant as they once were, yet this subject
is curiously missing from all of today's magazines. And how come? Sure,
it might be a bit embarrassing, but is it not news? Is this not a
subject worthy of discussion, especially in a well-respected news
magazine such as Time? After all, if a magazine such as yours, whose
decline in quality has been less severe than that of other magazines,
won't tackle this subject, who will then?

I would
like to write about this in a fascinating 10,000 word article. While
clearly documenting how magazines have gone downhill over the past
decade, I will further examine what can be done to stem this wave of
mediocrity. I will also talk to longtime observers to see if they can
pinpoint the exact moment when magazines started sucking. Perhaps, to
add perspective to the article, we could even include a case study of
your own magazine's decline during the past ten years.

Currently, I am a partly retired journalist, though I used to write
extensively for magazines back when they were still good. My media
criticism has also appeared in Brill's Content. Perhaps you may have
seen my 2001 piece about high profile magazine editors who abuse their
positions of power.

Thank you for your time, and I eagerly await hearing from you.


Joe Lavin writes a weekly humor column at He
is also the author of But I Digress, a collection of humor columns
available from his web site and from the top shelf of his closet behind
some old sweaters that ought to be discarded. While awake, he has
written for many publications including The Boston Globe, The Boston
Phoenix, Salon, and McSweeney's Internet Tendency.


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