Online | Nonfiction | Seminar

1-Day Nonfiction Seminar: Query & Submission Tips for Essay Writers

At some point in the life of every essay, you’ll need to do one of the hardest things there is: describe it to an editor. You could have a brilliant concept or completed piece, but for it to find a home, you need to summarize it in a way that gets decision-makers to read it—in the proper context. Queries are some of the most important letters you’ll ever write. How does a query convey everything necessary without becoming the essay itself? When should you pitch versus submit, and how does that choice influence what the query looks like?

Then there's the matter of your short- and long-term publishing goals. What audience(s) are you writing for, and what are the literary communities that can best support you in those efforts? There are ways to be deliberate and targeted with submissions so that you don’t feel spread thin.

In this course, we’ll cover the nuts and bolts of pitching and submitting, including an analysis of the parts of a successful query. Students will work on their query letters in class, and both give and receive oral feedback on shared work in small groups. We’ll go over the details of building a submission strategy specifically for the essays in question, including how to track work-under-consideration in ways that don’t distract.

The class is geared toward essays of different types, and pitching and submitting them individually (not as part of a book proposal). Writers working in fiction and poetry can benefit as well, as can writers at all stages of their careers, with or without publication history.

An ASL interpreter will be available upon request.

Our class platform works best on laptop or desktop computers. Class meetings will be held over video chat, using Zoom accessed from your private class page. While you can use Zoom from your browser, we recommend downloading the desktop client so you have access to all platform features. The Zoom calls will have automated transcription enabled. Please let us know ([email protected]) if you have any questions or concerns about accessibility.

Check out this page for details about payment plans and discount opportunities.  


- Gain an awareness of the audience(s) you are writing for, and the magazines and literary journals that can support your goals.

- Learn to write an unforgettable, targeted query that makes a compelling case for publication.

- Learn to develop a pitching and submission strategy that works for you.

- 10% discount on all future Catapult classes


Before class, students will receive an assignment with prompts to prepare notes on the intended audience(s) of their work, as well as magazines and journals they would like to query. Students should also bring a draft of a query letter to class and be prepared to discuss it in small groups.


- Identifying your potential audience(s) and your publishing goals

- Choosing target journals and understanding their rhythms

- The seven steps to writing a memorable query

- Workshopping your query letters with peer and instructor feedback

- Tip for pitching, submitting, and following up on completed essays

Daniel Allen Cox

Daniel Allen Cox's (he/him/his) essays have appeared in Maisonneuve, The Florida Review, Catapult, Literary Hub, TriQuarterly, Electric Literature, The Rumpus, The Malahat Review, Fourth Genre, and elsewhere. His essay "The Glow of Electrum"  was named Notable in Best American Essays 2021 and was a finalist for a 2021 Canadian National Magazine Award in Personal Journalism. 

Daniel is the author of four novels and I FELT THE END BEFORE IT CAME, a memoir-in-essays coming out on Penguin Canada in spring 2023. Daniel is a past mentor in both the AWP Writer to Writer and Quebec Writers’ Federation mentorship programs.


“I came to Daniel’s class feeling stuck with an unfinished essay. I left brimming with new ideas and inspiration on how to bring my essay to completion and a deeper understanding of the practice of essaying itself. Daniel is an engaging, clear, and thoughtful instructor with material that ignites the creative spirit. His practical guidance, insightful commentary, and talent for illuminating new directions made me feel excited to finish and submit my work. I highly recommend Daniel’s class for anyone hoping to bring their craft to the next level.”

Sara Z. Phelps former student

“Cox employs terse, effective prose to reveal the consciousness of his characters and the time in which they live. His ability to create an entire world view and a sense of place—in a few pages—is exceptional.”


“Art both tells and transforms life. And it is through the juxtaposition of evocative, surprising language with intellectual awareness and the sharing of open consciousness that this process is conveyed with soul as long as the form emerges from the emotional center of the work. Daniel finds these connections and innovations within himself, partially through commitment, partially through instinct. It's that thing we call talent.”


“Daniel Allen Cox mentored me on a fiction manuscript for which I received a grant. He is a gifted and discerning writer who knows what makes a story compelling, and how to translate it carefully and cleverly into writing by engaging the writer with techniques that will manifest an authentic voice with its own natural rhythm, style and structure. Daniel understood me and my personal narrative needs. He is a highly perceptive teacher.”

Sami Basbous multi-disciplinary artist, author of L'ANGE À QUI L'HOMME APPARUT and HEAL THE BOY

“When I started my mentorship with Daniel, I had an essay that I'd been submitting but didn't really know what it was missing. His unfailing belief in my potential was incredibly encouraging, and a month later, I had a new draft that finally cracked the code and received my first acceptance. Daniel's depth of knowledge about creative nonfiction and literary publishing has transformed my writing life. He's able to come up with a reading list and curriculum adapted to each situation. We've had deeper discussions about navigating stories that involve other people, but he's also perfectly willing to talk about the nitty gritty world of pitches and cover letters. Any feedback Daniel gives me is insightful, whether it’s on the level of word choice or a suggested restructuring of the piece. If you’re lucky enough to get the chance to work with Daniel, take it.”

former student