Write it down


Trends in business practices come and go: mentoring, office dress codes, structure-less offices vs. cubicle farms, but one thing that should never change is writing  notes for appropriate occasions.

Have you thanked your literary agent, book editor or someone else who helped your career recently? The ease with which you pen a simple note may stick in his mind when he hears someone is looking for a ghost writer or has a special project in mind.

A thank-you note doesn’t have to be long or flowery, but should include some heartfelt words. If you have some trouble tackling these personal notes, try making a list of the words you hope to include, those which support your point, and write a succinct sentence around each. Practice a line or two before setting your pen to stationery (yes, stationery — you should have some for this purpose).

This resource agrees that handwritten notes are a necessary business skill — but be careful of falling into the the “template” trap. Be sure to use your own words or your sincerity will fall flat.

Have you considered a personalized approach to your marketing pitches?

Handwritten notes have great power because they’re rare these days. People pay attention to personalized messages and remember them. They’ll remember you for writing it as well. Isn’t that your objective, whether writing a thank-you for the experience an internship has provided or to praise a particular employee for going above and beyond?


We often include handwritten postscripts to marketing letters — yes, that says letters because email has become too easy to delete without reading. Our response to letters with notes attached is much higher than a similar message sent via email. These hand-written addenda to a type-written pages will point out something specific to the group we’re soliciting, whether it’s a portion of the program that’s pertinent to their geographic area or a “shout out” to an acquaintance in the organization.

Now, sharpen your pen and get to work.





Don’t waste your time — or their’s


Rejection: you have to embrace it if you’re going to last as a writer. Or, you can get better at avoiding it.

I find it so interesting that writers — often very sensitive, exacting people who invest their whole beings in each submission — are rejected routinely as part of their careers. Does anyone reject the work of Joe the mechanic or Tony the baker who turns out dozens of pizzas a day?

effective emails are as important as good prose

effective emails are as important as good prose

Today this essay about rejections (by an editor) popped up on my screen. My kneejerk response was to pick it apart for the writer’s insensitivity and sarcastic tone.

…we accept under one-third of one percent of submissions that come in. Given those numbers, rejection letters are necessary, and they are, unfortunately, unexceptional. In fifteen years in publishing, I have probably written more than two thousand rejection letters.

Then I realized that we writers have to accept rejections as a part of doing business, or avoid it by writing better proposals and better emails.

Your book proposal or published book may be a gem but if you can’t get anyone to review it your audience will never know what they’re missing.

This professor says:

You have 1.54 seconds, based on your email subject line alone, to convince the target consumer to open your email, according to Lon Safko, author of The Social Media Bible. That’s less than two seconds to convince your potential customer to read your sales message! It probably took you longer to read that last sentence.

Assuming that your fabulous headline convinces the consumer to click the email open, you then have less than 5 seconds to lead your consumer from that initial click to the action you want them to perform.

Your target’s decision about whether to respond favorably to your email marketing campaign happens in 5 seconds – start to finish.

They key, she says, is immediately stating the stakes, what she calls “What’s In It for Me.”

If you send dozens of emails without getting a response perhaps you need to revamp your approach. Try cutting the message down to a few actionable sentences.

And always, always study the publishers and review outlets you’re approaching to make sure they’re a match for your subject matter. It will save you a lot of time and frustration (see rejection section above) if you’ve honed in on those most likely to be interested in your topic.

Even if you create the algorithm that will churn out guaranteed best-selling books (as described in this scientific study) they’re only as good as your pitch to publishers and bookstores.