3. WHAT’S YOUR ANGLE? RESEARCHING TO QUERY
You have your idea and now you’re on a mission. You know you can’t publish anything in a reputable paper or periodical that isn’t factual. If you love puzzles, digging for information and making cold calls, this is as good as foreplay.
Your first step, if you’re writing for income, is research just enough information to confirm the truth and flesh-out an idea you can use. You want to establish the credibility of your story. You might phone a woman and ask her if she really does have the biggest doll collection in Canada. It might mean calling operator to ask if a Bucking Horse Dude ranch really does exist and get a phone number. A second phone call nets you the information that Mr. X is the owner, and a call to Mr. X at an agreed upon time establishes that yes, he really does serve just French and German tourists in the middle of the Saskatchewan plains. Now you have your story idea and the facts you need to query an editor. You won’t invest any more time into the story unless you know there is an editor interested, if not committed.
If you just want to get your work in print, you may go ahead and put in the time and effort to write the article and search for an editor when it’s finished. It might take you 25 tries and two years but you get it published. The third way this article might get written is if you query it to a publication and agree to write it on speculation. Often, if the editor is not familiar with your work or questions the topic, they might make this offer. If you’re confident about your ability to turn in an audience-grabbing story, accept spec by all means.