You may be good at what you do. In fact, you may be really good.
But there’s a right way and a wrong way to convey it, especially if you’re sending a letter of introduction to a publication or editor you’ve never worked with before.
Use a letter of introduction (LOI) to subtly entice an editor to work with you or buy your story, not bang them over the head with how great you are. Sing your own praises too strongly and you’ll come off as snobby instead of helpful, arrogant instead of well-seasoned.
Here’s an example of how not to introduce yourself, sent to me by the editor of a popular consumer website.
The editor writes: “This one is a doozy. An e-mail that a freelancer sent to an editor here — amazingly, someone he does not know. It could be the breezy nature of [industry] writing in general, or the tone that it takes on our [website name] that emboldens this guy. It could be the mutual acquaintance factor or the fact that [blog name] prides itself on being brash and iconoclastic. But still…
Here’s the LOI the editor is referring to, with some parts redacted to protect the privacy of all parties involved:
Subject: The World Famous [freelancer’s name] From [blog name] wants to write a few articles for [website]
What? You don’t know me? Well [friend’s name] has recommended I get in contact you. Which is why this email is occupying your time.
[Friend] thinks (along with yours truly) that my work would be valuable to [industry reference] buyers. Specifically the buying, selling, and general storytelling of the [industry] business.
Feel free to judge for yourself.
[link to writing sample]
I am an [relevant job title #1], [relevant job title #2], [relevant job title #3], and writer at [blog name] for a good five years.
Read my stuff. I also co-write a little article called [title] which seems to have become a favorite at [blog name]….
All the best!
According to my editor friend, the colleague in her office who received the LOI, told her: “Well, there might be a worse way to introduce yourself to people you don’t know, but it doesn’t come to mind right now.”
Looking back at your own freelance writing business, what’s the worst LOI you ever sent, and did anything ever come of it? Please share in a comment: if I get enough good examples of bad LOIs, I’ll include them in a follow-up post.