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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Write your Own LOI: A Template to Get you Started

Ready to write your own LOI? Here’s a template to get you started; this letter opened the door and led to a long-term relationship with this publication. [My comments about each section are noted in the brackets in blue.]

Dear Ms. Alley:

I’m a friend and colleague of Kristin Baird Rattini, a fellow freelancer, and am writing to express my interest in writing for IGA Grocergram. (Kris and I recently had lunch—she’s here in the States for the holidays.) [The first paragraph of your LOI should catch the editor’s attention—if you have an “in,” use it here.]

I’ve been a fulltime freelance journalist for the past seven years. Since then, my work has appeared in more than fifty national magazines including Redbook, Parents, Business99, Family Circle, Woman’s Day, Continental, Fitness, Shape, and Good Housekeeping. I’m also the author of two books, Ready, Aim, Specialize! Create Your own Writing Specialty and Make More Money (The Writer Books, 2003) and the novel, Did you Get the Vibe? (Strapless, 2003) and have two more coming out in the next year. [This paragraph includes an overview of my writing background. In retrospect, though, I would switched the above and below paragraphs--the editor is probably going to be more interested in my trade magazine work than my consumer magazine work--or my novel! Hello!]

I’ve also written for trade magazines including Chamber Executive, where I wrote profiles, news stories, and business articles, and I also draft marketing pieces, newsletters, brochures, and other pieces for companies including The Pampered Chef. [Here I showcase the fact that I’ve written for other trade magazines, as that’s the type of magazine I’m pitching. But again, I should have made this is the second paragraph of the LOI.]

A little more about me: I received my bachelor’s degree in rhetoric before attending law school. I also practiced law for five years before changing careers to write full-time, and my legal training has given me a unique perspective on the importance of accuracy and clarity in written communication. [My background is unique, and this will hopefully help me stand out in the editor’s mind. But you know what? I was working at Trader Joe's at the time...I should have mentioned that I had experience working in the retail grocery environment! Duh. I did tell the editor that when she contacted me, though. And it did give me a leg up on writers who might not know what "end cap," "reefer," or "POS" means.]

If you’re looking for writers, I’d love to discuss your publication’s needs with you, and send you some clips via snail mail. I’ll follow up on this letter after the holidays, but please let me know if you have any questions about my background or experience. [Here I let her know that I’m happy to send clips, and that I’ll follow up on my pitch soon. That way when I do, hopefully she won't think I'm a pest--and will learn that I do what I say I will.]

Thank you very much, and have a wonderful holiday season.

Very truly yours,
Kelly James-Enger

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So here's the thing...this certainly isn't a perfect LOI by any means, but it worked for me. In a future post, I'll include another template so you can see how I change my approach for another type of market.

What about you? Do you ever use LOIs? Have you had success with them?