How outbound marketing works for freelance editors

Freelance editors often focus on what we might call indirect marketing and inbound marketing – that is, letting people know about their work through social media, blog posts, SEO, networking, and similar activities. Since freelance editors rarely have a marketing background, these approaches feel appropriate and doable.

And that’s fine as far as it goes! Almost all of my indie client work has come this way: through word-of-mouth and referral and through my social media activity. But business organizations – book publishers and packagers and online content agencies -are not likely to respond to these kind of indirect marketing efforts (though networking can definitely help).

If you want to target businesses and organizations as potential clients, you’ll probably have to use outbound marketing – that is, you’ll have to reach out directly to them.

I like working with publishers and packagers because they typically pay fairly and they usually have multiple projects for me to work on, so I have a steady stream of work. If this sounds appealing, you may want to target these types of clients, too.

Over the years, most of my editorial work has come from publishers and packagers and almost all of these clients were acquired through direct contact: I sent an LOI (letter of introduction), someone at the client read it and was interested enough to talk to me, we talked, and then I was offered a project to work on.

Though I rarely send these any more since most of my clients now come through word-of-mouth and referral, many Club Ed students and emembers successfully use this method to get clients. Just last week a Club Ed members used an LOI to land a dream publisher client.

What goes in a good LOI? I’m glad you asked. Here’s the template I use:

Dear EDITOR [put a name here]:

SOME KIND OF CONNECTION TO THIS EDITOR OR A RECOGNITION OF THEIR PAIN POINTS [“I just saw that you’ve been promoted to senior editor! Congratulations! If in your new role you need the assistance of a freelance editor, I hope you’ll think of me.”]

SPECIFIC EXPERIENCE THAT RELATES TO THIS PUBLISHER. [“I’ve edited forty technical manuals in the last five years/horror novels/short story anthologies.”]

I’m an experienced developmental editor who can also provide copyediting services—for years DID SOMETHING TO PROVE MY COPYEDITING CHOPS [taught a class, edited for a business, etc.] so I do know where all the commas go. Plus, I sleep with the Chicago Manual of Style.

I have worked as a freelance developmental editor for many book publishers, including NAME DROPPING GOES HERE, among others.

OTHER RELEVANT INFORMATION HERE [“I’m also the author or coauthor of more than thirty books, so I know exactly how writers feel when they get that revision letter.”] I’m always careful to be polite, diplomatic, and encouraging in my communications with writers.

If you’d be interested in hearing more about how I may be able to help you, please drop me a line or give me a call. I can be reached at [contact information].

Thank you for your time.

All best,

Jennifer Lawler

Notice that this letter is brief—I’m not trying to get someone to hire me based on it, I’m trying to get them to call/email me for more information. Also notice that a bit of humor helps you stand out.

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