Jennifer Lawler

HMH is a huge conglomerate so it is likely to be challenging to get attention there; I always recommend starting with smaller/intermediate-sized publishers as they are more likely to actually respond to your LOI and need help. This is especially true in the case of development and of fiction, which bigger publishers don’t farm out as much.

With HMH, the first thing you would need to do is identify what imprint you’d like to work with. They run the gamut–Clarion is very different from Mariner Books. You can navigate to the imprints page on their website to get a sense of what each imprint publishes.

Once you’ve identified an imprint to investigate, you can Google various search terms, like “Clarion HMH + editors.” Doing this brings up Lynne Polvino, who is listed as a senior editor. That’s a good job title as while she may not hire freelancers directly she is likely to be the person who says “we need help on this project.” Going over to LinkedIn, I see she is still at the company. I also see that I know some people who know her. (I’ve linked with a lot of publishing people on LI, which makes this type of investigation easier.) If I can see that one of my colleagues has worked with her, I might ask if they think pitching her would be a good idea. Or, I might see if she’s on Twitter and follow her there for a bit to get a sense of whether she would be responsive or not. Or, I could just send her an email LOI. (There is a description of hunting down email addresses in the lesson.)

If you meet with echoing silence, you can send another LOI in a month or two. Often it takes several tries to get a response. The thing with LOIs is that they work best when they happen to land in someone’s inbox right around the time they suddenly need help. For that to happen, you’re likely to have to send more than one LOI to any particular editor.

If someone has responded with no, thanks, I will either wait for a change in staff before sending another LOI or what five or six months and then reach out again, depending on whether the no thanks was “We never hire freelancers!” (wait for a new hire) or “We don’t need anyone right now” (since they may in future, an LOI some months down the road is indicated).