Hello! Welcome to everyone who subscribed after they saw me on Tim Herrera's Business of Freelancing Zoominar, those who found me otherwise, and my long time readers too. I hope you'll learn something with every issue, whether you are new or not.
First up, my ebook, How I Made $135,000 in One Year of Freelancing, is $8 for the rest of the month. Use code "august." You save $2!
Reader mail time. This one is from Amy, a former editor of mine turned freelancer. Welcome to the #freelancemafia!
Her question comes in three parts, all related to letters of introduction (LOIs). In case you missed it (or don't want to click on the link – but click on the link!), LOIs are short emails you send to places like trade and B2B publications, marketing firms, universities – whoever hires writers but probably comes up with ideas and assignments themselves.
Here's what Amy asked:
- I worry that my emails will go straight to spam and I'll never know if they were received or not.
- Do you usually call the company head of time to find out the name of the right person to send to? Or send to general address? Or fill out the "contact us" form on a website?
- How soon and how often do you follow up?
- Yes, being sent to spam is possible. This is why sending a lot of LOIs, and following up, are both so important. I can't even count the number of times I've followed up and the person said "oh no you must have been sent to spam!" But that's OK. I don't get too hung up about it. Remember, as I wrote in my ebook (plug plug), I sent more than 500 LOIs in 2018. No way they're all going to land in the right spot. This might be where someone suggests an email tracker, which lets you see if your email has been opened. I hate these things. Just because a PR person emails me doesn't give them the right to peek inside my inbox, so I take steps to block these programs as much as possible. I know a lot of editors who feel this way too. I'm not sure what you'd do with information that someone didn't open your email, or opened it and didn't respond. I delete emails from PR people all the time without reading them. I just get too many to handle without turning over my time to unsolicited email.
- Back to LOIs. I try to do LOIs as quickly as possible, so phone calls are out. Since I most often reach out to universities and research institutions, I look for a name in "marketing," "communications," "publications," something like that. I try not to use a general address or contact form because those tend to be black holes. Instead, if I can't find a name, I'll take a look around Linkedin to see if I can find the right person. Bonus if that person is a connection with someone I'm connected to! But again, I try not to spend too much time on each one. I think about it this way: my dog is food oriented, and gets a small treat thrown to her after each successful sit/stay/roll over/play dead. If she loses track of a treat, she'll sniff around for it for about 15 seconds, then sit in front of me for her next chance to earn another one. She knows when it's time to move on. You'll learn this too.
- I try to follow up in two months, then six months after that. This is for LOIs only. For story pitches, it's two weeks or less, depending on timeliness.
Yes, sending these LOIs does take time. I often watch a movie while doing so. But they can be incredibly powerful and profitable. I signed two new clients this month. One was because an editor I knew moved to another publication. The other? You guessed it: an LOI (sent in April).
"Demand for partitions and face shields is booming. How a plastic fabricator is adapting its supply chain" for Supply Chain Dive
"How to protect remote workers from phishing and identity attacks" for StateTech
"Businesses Deploy Biometrics to Security Facilities" for BizTech
"Stores went dark. Online orders tripled. How Joann used its OMS to cope" for Supply Chain Dive
What I'm Reading
- The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson. This is about the great migration of Black Americans out of the Jim Crow south. If you are trying to understand more about this political moment, and what you (most likely) weren't taught in schools about what happened after the end of the Civil War, read this book. It's long. But that's OK. It should be long. I listened to it as an audiobook over a period of months. But it is almost mandatory right now. If you've heard Wilkerson's name in the news, that's because her new book, Caste: The Origins of Our Discontent, just came out. The New York Times called it an "instant American classic." It's on my list.
- Daring and the Duke by Sarah MacLean. I didn't like this one as much as the others in this series. The relationship of the hero and heroine felt a bit…unhealthy.
- Heads in Beds: A Reckless Memoir of Hotels, Hustles, and So-Called Hospitality by Jacob Tomsky. A friend recommended this as something funny, and it was. It's a bit bro-y (it was published in 2012, when that was the hot thing), but I learned a lot. I listened to this as an audiobook.
- Florence Adler Swims Forever by Rachel Beanland. I liked this, if a bit uneven. It takes place in Atlantic City in 1934 and as someone who used to write about Atlantic City, this was very accurate! I only found one thing off, but I can see why the author stretched reality a bit for that plot point (I don't think I'd spoil anything, but I don't want anyone to accuse me of doing so either!)
- Rise and Shine by Anna Quindlen. I have long been a fan of her work, but I missed this one. I picked it up at a library book sale (which is something I am thinking about a lot since most of ours usually take place in the fall sigh).
- March by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell. This is the three part graphic novel (nonfiction) trilogy about John Lewis's work in civil rights. It is extraordinary. I knew about most of this stuff, but didn't know how the pieces fit together. It also brought a different, ground level view to the history covered in The Warmth of Other Suns. Just extraordinary. Also, this story, about how John Lewis cosplayed as his younger self and lead a march around Comic-Con…it just makes me feel overwhelmed all over again at his death.
- Death of Stalin. It was OK. Maybe I wasn't in the mood for fascists.
- Much Ado About Nothing from the Public Theater. I love this play so much. And I loved this take on it.
- Agent Carter. I am not quite sure how I missed this when it came out, but maybe I needed it now more than I did there. I liked it! I'm bummed they didn't get a third season. It has a much higher body count that I expected! Mr. Jarvis should play Prince Charles in the last two seasons of The Crown. And I painted my nails very red (Yummy Forever by Essie) because of Ms. Carter.
- Rush Hour. It was free on the free version of Peacock. Yes, some of it is cringeworthy. I don't know how to reconcile that except that the movie is 22 years old and we change. But I did laugh quite a bit. Much needed now.
Until Next Time!
Jen A. Miller