My Unorthodox Query Letter is Rejected. But I Wouldn’t Have Changed it.

My query letter to National Geographic’s Traveler was just rejected. But I think I did the best I could. Here are the details. Perhaps you will be inspired to put your own off-the-wall query letter into the mail.

I proposed a travelogue to central Nevada, participatory tourism to discover turquoise at the Royal Royston claim outside of Tonopah. That was what my Rock&Gem (internal link) article was all about and I thought I might interest Nat Geo in a piece tailored toward their audience.

Since my article and query letter revolved around turquoise, I decided to confort the query letter editor with the real thing: real turquoise. I bundled up two samples, one rough, one finished, and sent them off. I included my magazine article and a photo of Kate Blanchett at the Academy Awards wearing a turquoise necklace. Just to show turquoise is in style. (See the image below.)

Alas, my approach did not work. According to the one sentence rejection notice, my article did not fit with their editorial needs. Sigh. Still, I think I did all I could to grab their attention. Perhaps this approach would work with a smaller magazine; getting anything published in a Nat Geo title would be like winning the lottery.

The query letter I sent is below these two images. Read it, and tell me what you think. To all of you trying to get into national magazines, keep trying, and let me know if you have any crazy schemes of your own.




January 15, 2016

Query Editor
National Geographic Traveler
1145 17th St. NW
Washington, DC 20036

A Turquoise Tale: Collecting Stones and Stories From Nevada’s Distant Hills

Can you put adventure in the palm of your hand? Can you touch and feel it? You can near Tonopah, Nevada. Under brilliant blue skies, in hills covered by low sagebrush, you can search for and collect turquoise at the Royston Turquoise Mine, two hundred miles north of Las Vegas. You can take your discoveries home, to be worked into jewelry, or simply keep and admire them for the beautiful rocks they are. This high desert quest for turquoise is a quintessential Nevada adventure, fresh with new countryside and populated by the colorful characters that inhabit them.

My feature article would revolve around the participatory travel experience that the Ottesons provide with their Royston Turquoise mine tour and dig. Why now? Turquoise is riding a new wave of popularity, perhaps its greatest since the 1970s. Why Traveler? Because this rural Nevada adventure hasn’t been featured before; it’s a novel journey for any traveler who thinks of sage country as only home for cattle, wild burros, and ghost towns. Family mines still exists. And this is one of the last in America. More?

A dozen Ottesons have claims in the Royston Hills. Dean Otteson, the patriarch, carries on the work his father started. Brothers and wives and children are involved, from operating the mine to making jewelry. The clan has been pitched with a reality show. Their Royston turquoise is featured in high end jewelry throughout the United States. Rockhounds come from all over the West to collect on the property. It’s a tale worth telling.

I’ve included a copy of my recent Rock&Gem article on turquoise and Tonopah. For Traveler I would visit the mine again and write a shorter, all new piece with less mineralogical musings and an emphasis on the storytelling of the people I meet along the way. My writing credits include two American Heritage Invention and Technology pieces. See the attached sheet. In years past I’ve had a good relation with Edwin Grosvenor. I’d carefully follow your guidance, word count, and deadline. Open the box I’ve included. And put adventure in your hand.

Thanks in advance,

Thomas Farley

About thomasfarley01

Freelance writer specializing in outdoor subjects, particularly rocks, gems and minerals.
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