Since the publication of all of my successful query letters in June, I have gathered three (potentially four) new queries to add to the book. My latest article, my first for Next Avenue, published earlier this week. Today I share the query and the story behind the article. This will appear in next year’s updated edition of Magazine Queries That Worked, but you can enjoy the preview now!
Market: Next Avenue
Initial Query: July 2017
Accepted: July 2017
Published: October 2017
Paid: September 2017
Word Count: 1,000 words, approximately
I’ve been a member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors for almost five years. One of the ASJA member benefits is access to Virtual Pitch Slams (VPSs). These events are teleconferences that allow a limited pool of members two minutes to pitch 1-2 article ideas directly to an editor while other members listen live on the call.
I’ve participated with two VPSs this year, one with Next Avenue and another with Wine Enthusiast. (Still waiting on a follow-up for WE.) I was able to secure a spot on the wait list for the NE VPS, and when one writer didn’t show up – I got to pitch!
When researching NE, I figured there were some interesting topics I had learned about from my SEO content writing work that would fit well with their audience. They’re part of the PBS system and, per their website, they are “public media’s first and only national journalism service for America’s booming older population.” I’ve written volumes on elder law, retirement, Medicaid planning, and estate planning, so I decided to pitch a few pieces in those themes.
Since you only have two minutes to relay your pitch, there’s not much of an opportunity to go back-and-forth on details. It’s common for an editor to say they are interested in hearing more, and they encourage you to email them and iron out the details. That’s what happened to me on the call.
The pitch I followed up with by email was on estate planning for unmarried seniors. I saw one existing article on their site related to that topic, but it was missing important items – so I pitched a complementing piece on those three items. The editor responded and asked if I would send a pitch for a piece solely on one of the topics, so I did! (The original pitch will appear in the ‘Query Cemetery’ in my book next year.)
The nice thing about NE is that they pay within 30 days of acceptance. As you see noted above, I received payment before the piece was published.
For ethical purposes, I did not contact any of my clients who would have been good sources for this article. Instead, I tapped my personal and LinkedIn network. I had a tight deadline and was scrambling to get interviews scheduled. I had one no-show and heard only crickets from my LinkedIn requests. Then I tapped HARO, which is usually a slam dunk for finding article sources. But, no. Not one response!
I ended up using directories for certified elder law attorneys and good ol’ fashioned Google searches to find my sources.
Thanks for your feedback and suggestions. With advance planning, middle- and upper-income individuals in their 50s and 60s could qualify for Medicaid. The time-consuming nature of the process is not a tremendous burden when couples or single folks take steps years before they will need the benefits. Considering that Medicaid imposes the 5-year ‘look back’ period, advance planning is practically a prerequisite.
Planning efforts can include a combination of trusts and asset transfer strategies to support the Medicaid Trust. If an individual’s income is too high, the income can be assigned to a Miller Trust. This tool allows the individual to retain a monthly needs allowance, and pay insurance and un-reimbursed medical expenses. Trust funds can also pay Medicaid co-payments to a nursing facility.
A few non-exempt assets, for Medicaid eligibility purposes, include retirement accounts, mutual funds, stocks, checking and savings accounts, and real estate (primary residence excluded). The combination of these assets could easily disqualify an individual from Medicaid. Many individuals gift or sell off property several years before applying for Medicaid with the intent to qualify. Without proper guidance on asset transfers, these actions could come with gifting penalties.
While advance planning is helpful, it doesn’t necessarily mean the individual should apply early or delay applying for Medicaid. Applying too early may result in postponement of benefits. Late application may only retroactively extend benefits back three months.
“3 Planning Moves For Your Medicaid Trust” will be approximately 1,000 words and include insight on Miller Trusts, asset transfers, and timing Medicaid applications from elder law attorneys and individuals who have established Medicaid Trusts. It will also include suggested items to review with an attorney on Medicaid crisis planning, and remind readers that Medicaid programs differ by state and a relocation should prompt Medicaid planning updates.
Thanks again for your consideration. Look forward to hearing from you.