Ladies & Gents:
Hello from this BITTERLY COLD DAY OMG WHAT IS THIS WTF?!
Yes, upper midwest folks, you're laughing at me saying this is "cold." Floridians, I see you down there shaking with laughter in your shorts and flip flops. Well, joke's on you I'll be down there in 12 days haha! And I will be laughing at you wearing knit caps in 60 degrees.
Unlike last winter, it'll be a quick trip to the sunshine state because I'm planning on going on a grand adventure this spring. Not as grand as #jenin50, but still fun (and I'm taking Annie along on that one).
I have a lot of new readers since I turned this more into a newsletter about freelancing, so I hope that those of you who don't do this aren't bored. If you are, you can skip down to the watching/reading recs – I won't take too long here!
Two things today:
Letters of Introduction. I know I wrote about LOIs in the last issue of the newsletter, but I want to press again what a powerful marketing tool this is. Last week, I booked over $5,000 of work from contacts I made by sending LOIs. I've spent time this month following up on LOIs I sent last year – even ones I followed up on in the summer – and I'm still getting positive responses. Once you send buckets of LOIs (for a time last year, I was sending five a day), you're planting seeds that'll grow over time, as long as you nurture them (i.e. follow up on them). One assignment I got last week came from an LOI I sent in April. Try it!
Cut-Throat Freelancing. Today I came across a very odd piece on a freelancer blog run by Contently. It contained this quote: "The industry has long relied on the isolated nature of our work to breed secrecy and competition among writers and media workers." This came from Crystal Stella Becerril, community organizer from Study Hall, which is described as a freelancer collective.
In 14 years of being a full-time freelancer, I have never, ever found this to be the case. If I felt this way, I wouldn't write this newsletter. If other writers were all this way, I wouldn't have found the communities at ASJA or Freelance Success so uplifting and supportive. I wouldn't share contacts or leads with writers I trust, and they wouldn't share them with me back. How do you think I know what an LOI is? From those wonderful groups.
If this is the kind of environment publications you write for are fostering, or the kinds of writers you association with, you should not write for those publications or associate with those writers. Why in the world would you want to align yourself with companies that want you to pit you against each other? Or other writers who are spoiling for a fight? That's no way to live, and it does not sound like a productive way to make a living.
I'm also taking this with a giant grain of salt. Contently's clients are not writers, but those companies looking for writers, and it behooves them to get us to accept less money for our work. A few years ago, this same blog advocated for writers being paid like $.10/word. That's not right, and the idea that writers are all crabs trying to escape the same boiling pot of water isn't either.
I know I can't smack down every bizarre thing I see published about freelancing, but that one bothered me. So here I am.
OK non-freelancers, you can open your eyes again. Hello!
"Putting Mental Tricks from Running to Work in the Rest of Your Life" for The New York Times
"How to Start a Running Routine" for The New York Times
"Creating Bigger, Better, Sustainable Crops" for Michigan Tech News
What I'm Reading
- Team Human by Douglas Rushkoff. I didn't really like this book too much, but I still think it's worth reading – if that makes sense? It'll make you consider how our digital world is changing us, mostly for the not so good.
- The Drop by Michael Connelly. Ever time I read a Michael Connelly novel, I think about how much JK Rowling should tighten up her crime fiction. Weird association, but it's one I make.
- Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout. Everyone loved this! I did not! I didn't hate it, but I don't think I'll be reading any more of the Olive Kitteridge books coming out (as I'm told they are).
- Wild Ones by Jon Mooallem. I listened to this, a book about humans watching/working for animals, as an audiobook, and it's interesting but depressing as climate change marches on.
- Garlic and Sapphires by Ruth Reichl. How lovely! I found this in a Little Free Library and loved it. I wish I could write about food that way.
- The Kitchen God's Wife by Amy Tan. Another Little Free Library find. I stayed up way too late finishing it last night, which is probably why I went back to bed after I walked the dog this morning. Also: IT'S COLD.
- To Marry and English Lord by Gail MacColl. This is about, as a friend described it, all the Coras coming over from America to marry English lords to save their financial butts (that would be Cora from Downton Abby). It's about the time when American heiresses were becoming English royalty. Very interesting.
- Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly. I'm embarrassed to admit that I haven't read this yet, especially since the author and I have the same agent. I'm sorry! But I got here eventually, and I'm enjoying it very much.
What I'm Watching
- Endeavor. I had no idea there was a movie before the series. Thanks Amazon Prime for giving me another dose of this great British murder mystery show.
- Vanity Fair. This is a new historical Amazon Prime show about a social climber. I liked it. I hope there's a second season.
- She-Ra. I liked this so much! Things got really deep in episode 11, and I think it's something that just about anyone can enjoy, no matter age or gender. I have less questions about how she can become eight feet tall than what happens to her hair though. Such lovely hair!
- Solo. Wow, this was bad. Also about a half hour too long. I watched it while working today and that's enough for me.
- Frankie & Grace. My mom and I share a Netflix account. It's a race to see who's going to finish this season first. I'll get you mom!
I'm working on something special for you in February so stay tuned!
Until Next Time,
Jen A. Miller