Beyond the Words: Pitching Presentation and Sending

We’ve discussed pitch content in previous articles.

But what about presentation and sending? How should they look and how should they be sent?


In his free Skillshare class, MailChimp’s Fabio Carneiro reminds viewers that research has shown “people delete ugly e-mails.” He makes a good point using design that speaks to specific types of customers, too.

“If you know your audience is mostly developers, you could make your content more technical. You could generally make your design much simpler as well, so that it’s the textual information that stands out. For designers on the other hand, they might appreciate something that looks a little nicer — and for the content to be less technical and more subjective.”

A friend in the music industry always includes a video of her clients performing whenever she shares information about them. Makes sense. The music and the performance are what’s being sold. For a visual artist, images of artist’s work make sense. Why send all text when the work is a painting?

At Black Irish Books, we’ve found the simpler the better. For promotions, keep it short, to an image, the offer, and a link. If you’re sending a newsletter, lengthy content might fly, but for pitching… Too often Steve and Black Irish Books receive pitches that run the length of short stories. The pitch — what the sender wants — is the most important piece, yet it often ends up being a short ask at the end of two pages detailing the life of the sender. On the minimalist side, there’s this:

Attached is a copy of the flyer going out to the media and public in just a couple of weeks – to promote my new book, XXX…
if would be terrific if you would/could forward it to your email list to let them know it can be pre-ordered through Also – if they are interested, I will be holding special workshops in the Spring to learn how to use this xxx for xxx.
Thanks muchly — of course I will ALWAYS do the same for anything you wish to promote. Thanks.

First: We don’t know the sender.

Second: The sender’s book didn’t relate to any books written by Steve or released by Black Irish Books.

Third: No personalization. It’s the e-mail equivalent of throwing spaghetti at a wall.

*I’m not going to rip off Fabio’s full class, so go over and check it out for more on presentation. Good info. He won me over with this:

“Essentially what you’re doing in a great post is teaching others. That’s the best thing you can do, is help other people be better.”

Help other people be better.

We use MailChimp for Steve’s personal site and for Black Irish Books. I’m going through their videos now to see what I’ve missed.


This past week, Skillshare posted a free class from Ariana Hargrave, director of VIP Services for MailChimp. Personalization is one of the items Ariana reminds viewers to target.

We’ve talked about personalization in the past. Genuine personalization — the kind that involves more than inserting a name in a merge field — is time-consuming, but worthwhile. What we’ll often do is send an e-mail to everyone on our list, and then circle back to friends, with a forward of the e-mail and a few personal notes. We don’t do it every time because we’re a small team and genuine, personalized correspondence isn’t something that can be outsourced.

Onboarding E-mails

If you’ve shopped via an online store, you’ve likely faced a pop-up, offering 10% or some other incentive for subscribing to the site. Once you sign up, you’ll receive an automated e-mail offering the promised gift.

This is important: This is your first e-mail to new subscribers.

Make a good impression.

With the digital download or coupon code, or whatever it is you’re offering, consider providing a special unannounced bonus or a special video about your work, your company’s mission, and so on — and make sure you say THANK YOU.

Abandoned Cart Message

This is the e-mail you receive when you don’t complete a purchase. You went as far as putting a product in a shopping cart and then an important call came in, you had to send a file to a client, the kids came home and you had to get dinner, and then by the end of the day you forgot — or you simply changed your mind once you saw the shipping cost and bailed.

These are particularly good for limited time/limited quantity offers. After almost every promo we’ve done, we’ve received e-mails from customers that started their purchases and then …. “Something came up. Can you squeeze me in? Can I still receive the promo?” Same for customers that thought they made a purchase, but somehow it “didn’t go through.”

Purchase Follow-Up

If you’ve ever bought something on Amazon, you’re familiar with the e-mails that arrive within a week of you receiving your purchase. These are call-to-action e-mails, requesting that you share a review about your purchase.

As with the onboarding e-mails, purchase follow-up e-mails can be used to provide a bonus, too. Maybe you send a short story surprise, a cartoon, or a short how-to video with your thank you.


The timing of messages is the piece of Arianna’s video that had me taking notes.

We’ve always sent e-mails out at the same time, which means 9 AM on the East Coast, 6 AM on the West Coast, and later for international. MailChimp allows for staggered sends, “Time Warp” e-mails, so we could send e-mails out at 9 AM whenever 9 AM hits different locations, rather than at one time. This way, e-mails would hit at 9 AM on the East Coast, at 9 AM on the West Coast, at 9 AM in London, and so on… Optimize the timing for different locations.

With onboarding e-mails, strike while the iron’s hot. Set the auto e-mail for an immediate send upon subscription.

For abandoned carts, give it some time — and don’t go overboard. A gentle reminder within 24 hours is great, but… You’ll run subscribers off if the e-mails don’t stop.

For purchase follow-up, give it at least a week. Sending an e-mail request for a review five minutes after a print copy was purchased doesn’t make sense. The book hasn’t been sent, so it hasn’t been received, which means it hasn’t been read. By the time the reading portion hits, your e-mail will be forgotten and likely deleted.

Best Customers E-mail

This isn’t something I’d thought about until Ariana brought it up in her video. We have a number of college stores that purchase Black Irish Books’ titles every semester. Every semester, the stores order at the last minute and then want everything rushed. With these routine customers, we could be timing e-mails, sent only to them, at the beginning of each semester, nudging them to submit their orders. Although Black Irish Books wasn’t set up to sell into the school stores, that’s exactly what’s happening. Makes sense to target them on the front end, instead of rushing on the late end. The same can be done with other repeat buyers. If we look at order history, we can identify ordering trends for repeat customers. Makes sense to touch base with them.

MailChimp isn’t the only e-mail system available, but it is the one we’ve used. Whether you use it or not, definitely check out their videos on Skillshare. They are free — and you’ll likely find more to explore on Skillshare, too.

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  1. Mary Doyle on October 21, 2016 at 6:11 am

    Thanks for another great pitch and marketing “class” Callie!

  2. Erika Viktor on October 21, 2016 at 10:36 am

    Wow! That was a stunningly helpful list of tips for online email marketing. I didn’t think of half of these.

    I use mailchimp for my mailing list and admittedly, am very careful about the emails I throw into people’s inboxes because we all have too much email. It has been said that there are two large fears plaguing the modern man: too much fat and too much email.

    Shifting focus toward helping others is so important. There are some emails I am excited to get because they offer easy, actionable, less than five minute tips, sometimes as easy as clicking a link and putting my url into it. They don’t lead to huge change, but they are so small and easy that they feel effortless to me.

    Aren’t we lucky that we have these tools? Thanks for offering this great tip sheet, Callie! You are an angel.

  3. Michael Beverly on October 21, 2016 at 10:49 am

    I’ve been watching a course on ChimpMail (Paul Jarvis–Chimp Essentials) and trying to learn the ins and outs of using and customizing this service.

    One big tip: Get authenticated and verified so the emails come from Steve, Callie, or Shawn, or the team, instead of:

    Steven Pressfield via

    The first thing people see is this ugly address code and it’s something you can get rid of.

    Get post, Callie, as usual.

    • Michael Beverly on October 21, 2016 at 10:50 am


      Ha,,,you’d think with the millions of hours of editing I’d remember to edit my posts before hitting “Post.”

      I’m a slow learner. Apparently.

  4. Mia on October 22, 2016 at 4:07 am

    Callie, this is a super useful post! I’ve been wanting to tell all of you at BI Books how much I loved that deal pack you offered… Was it a couple years ago? I’ve saved them and savored them like a bag of candy, enjoying them a bit at a time. So tantalizing and delicious. I can definitely see why college professors assign BI Books for student consumption.

  5. David Kaufmann on October 25, 2016 at 10:33 pm

    Thanks for the insights. Much work to be done.

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