Have you ever watched the movie Legally Blonde? In it, Elle Woods prints her resume on pink, scented paper to help it stand out. It stands out, alright, but not in the right way.
The same is true for freelance writers and editors—how you present yourself will make you stand out. It’s up to you to make sure you stand out in a good way. Here are four easy tips for making the best professional impression.
Follow the Submission Guidelines: Nothing screams “amateur” like not following the directions. In fact, so few people follow the guidelines that people who do follow them stand out as the kind of people publishers want to talk to. Do yourself a favor and learn those guidelines!
Know and Follow Industry Standards: Following the directions will get your foot in the door, but if your query letter or pitch are written in Comic Sans font with 2.5” margins (on pink, scented paper), the real message you’re sending is, “I don’t believe in myself, so I’m hoping the gimmicks will get your attention.” They will, but not the way you want them to. Times New Roman 12-point font is your friend.
Mind Your Manners: It’s amazing how far a “please” and “thank you” will take you these days, not to mention a polite, “Dear, So-So” and a “Sincerely.” Once you’ve developed a relationship with someone, it’s fine (and appropriate) to become more casual in your correspondence. Until then, however, mind your manners.
24-Hour Rule: When you do receive an email or message from a publisher or client, respond within 24-business-hours (if you get an email at 4 p.m. on Friday afternoon, respond by 4 p.m. Monday afternoon). Even if you can’t help them in that time frame, send a quick, “I got your email,” so the sender knows you received it and will take care of it.
By following these four simple steps, you’ll set yourself apart as someone publishers and clients want to talk to, and if they want to talk to you, you’re one step closer to getting the job!