Laura Lopuch Talks Leveraging Cold Outreach for Authors
In June, I had the pleasure of interviewing Laura Lopuch of lauralopuch.com to talk all things cold emailing. What does cold emailing have to do with brand books?
Most of you are entrepreneurs, so you already know the power of cold outreach. When you become an author, you’ll continue to sharpen your cold outreach skills as you seek strategic partnerships to market and distribute your new brand book. Read on for some info about Laura and the full transcript of our interview.
Laura Lopuch is a cold email maverick. She helps service providers and solopreneurs send cold and partnership pitch emails that get new clients without the sleaze or the big time-suck. Four months after launching her business, she grew it by 1400% and signed a $20K client from just cold emails. She has since helped her clients get their next big $10K- or $25K-client with cold emails using her powerful “The Relevancy Method.”
Laura, thank you so much for agreeing to speak with me today.
Hey, Jessica, I’m so excited to be here. Thanks for inviting me.
You’re welcome. This is a topic that is important to me because this is how I got started in the online business world because I perceived myself as having no network. I’m a book coach and editor now, but I came from the luxury hospitality world, so all my contacts were sort of in that space. I had really good success with cold emailing, but then I sort of started to move away from it for a few reasons.
At the time, I had started seeing people online dissing the cold email method, and I felt called out. They would mock people, share screenshots, and publicly shame people who are using this method. When others asked, “How do I get started with getting clients?” they would always say, “Whatever you do, don’t cold email.”
So I would love to know, how do you view cold emailing, and what is your impression that people have of it?
I love that you’re going in this direction right off the bat because I think that kind of objection is in the back of a lot of people’s heads. In fact, I was just having a conversation with someone else who built his business using my method and using cold outreach. We were talking about this idea of cold emails and where people come to cold emails from and usually it’s desperation, it’s like the last resort in this long line of things that they’ve already tried.
And I think that maybe lends to this stigmatized idea of cold emailing that it’s bad, that it is shameful because of all those associated feelings around it, like feeling desperate and helpless and out of control. And I think that if you start cold emailing in that place, it’s gonna be really hard. I started cold emailing in that place, and I had to work through those feelings and come out on the other side of releasing the outcome.
And once you get to that other side of like, “I don’t have control whether or not this person takes action on my email. All I have control of is over on my side of the screen, how I’m approaching the cold email, how I’m coming to it.” If you’re coming to it from a feeling of desperation, that emotion gets translated in your words. So I think that contributes to the shame spiral of sorts around cold emails.
I would encourage you to come to cold emails from a place of abundance. When you have a waitlist, that’s the perfect time to start cold emailing. Or when you’re ready for an experiment, or when you’re not hinging everything on cold emailing to make it work. Take the pressure off.
But I do want to say that cold emails allow you to captain your own ship. They allow you to take control of your business. They allow you to pick the clients that you want to work with, pick the partners that you want to work with, pick the projects, pick the budget too.
You can qualify your clients long before you reach out based on certain things they’ve been doing and certainly, if it’s a public company, it’s a little bit easier because they usually post the revenue. But if it’s a startup and they got like X amount in seed funding, you can also qualify. And it also depends on the publishing house too, if it’s big or small, that kind of thing. So you can kind of hand-pick, which is why I really like cold emailing because I like that sense of control that it gives you. You seize control over your own destiny versus going, “Well, nothing’s happened.” Are you taking action? Go take action, see what happens.
Yeah, that’s super relevant to my audience because, as I mentioned to you before, I have a lot of authors who are maybe thinking about submitting their book proposals to traditional publishing houses. And that’s not the majority of my audience, but I do tend to have some of those people. It’s really good to have this conversation now because they’re going to find out, whether they do traditional or self publishing, that they, as the author, are responsible for marketing their book, and in many cases that means reaching out to potential partners. It can be difficult when you don’t know them yet, and you’re gonna try and ask them, “Hey, can we collab on something to get exposure for my book and maybe leads from your audience?”
Those are really good points, Laura, and fascinating that people do that out of desperation because they have tried lots of other things before. In my case, it wasn’t like that, I just didn’t want to try anything else. I knew if I just put one post out there on social media that it wasn’t going to do anything. So I was deciding in my head, “What is the most targeted action I can take to make money today or tomorrow?” and I decided it was gonna be cold emailing.
That’s how I approached it too. I didn’t want to do any social media, and I didn’t have a following. I didn’t have a referral network. It was like, “What am I good at?” And the answer was sending emails based on my background at working at a law firm. There, nothing happened unless it was written, unless there was an email proving that this conversation happened. So I had gotten really good at writing persuasive emails. Because it was a lot easier to just cut out the phone call and go right to the email and have the conversation there where it’s all documented.
That’s so true. The other thing I would touch on about the first piece that you mentioned before was that you have control in putting yourself in a category of one. How you put it was “captaining your own ship” when you’re the one sending cold emails.
In terms of the reception that this method gets online, I think it’s important for you to remember as well that you have no control over the person who is reading your cold email, and you don’t get to decide how they’re gonna react, if it’s gonna be a good reaction or a bad reaction, and you do have to detach yourself from that outcome, right?
Exactly. My business coach calls it “tending your own garden.” What is within your realm of control? You, your feelings, your thoughts. If you go outside your garden and try to weed your neighbor’s garden, he’s gonna get mad at you, and you’re gonna let your own garden go to waste, right? It’s gonna get overrun with weeds.
So what is within your garden that you can control? How well you write the cold email, what kind of research you put into it, how you’re approaching it. Are you approaching it from a state of desperation? Are you approaching it from a state of experimentation, excitement? Those feelings will translate, but you don’t have any control over what they do with that cold email. You have to release that.
I was reading a memoir by Bryan Cranston. It is really good. It’s called A Life Apart, if I remember the title correctly. He talks about going into acting, and I hadn’t thought about this until I read his memoir, but actors are continually cold pitching. They’re going in, they’re doing the research beforehand, they’re preparing, and then they’re essentially pitching themselves in an audition. And Bryan was getting really stressed out because he was approaching the audition like, “I do this, then you do this, because this is the agreement that we set up. I do a great audition, you hire me for a part.” And when he didn’t get hired, he would get really bummed and depressed because it didn’t go how it was supposed to in his head…
Until he got the advice that you have to approach it as a process. “I’m doing the work, I’m taking care of the prep part. I’m doing the best audition I have. Now I have to release the outcome, and I don’t have any control over that outcome. All I can do is my part of it and then kind of leave it up to the gods or fate or whatever you wanna call it.” But it’s basically the other person you have to release and the expectation of a return on investment. It’s not your job to make sure that happens.
So much gold in there, Laura, thank you for sharing that. And that actually reminded me how the process of launching a book is like a giant cold pitch in a way because you don’t know exactly who is gonna pick it up, and you have no control over how it’s received. I don’t care who you are, every author is gonna get a one- or two-star review of their book at some point on Amazon. You can’t let that possibility or that reality control the book-writing process or even the book-launching process. You have to just go full steam ahead as though it’s gonna be the greatest book ever, a bestseller, and it’s gonna attract lots of great-fit readers for your offers.
If you’re selling something on the back end or just to build awareness, you get to potentially meet those readers in real life. Again, don’t think about the haters because there’s always gonna be a certain percentage of people like that.
That’s so true. And to speak to that point, I actually just picked up a book from the library this week that this blogger I really like recommended. I picked it up, I got no further than page two, and I was like, “I just can’t.” So I returned it, and it’s probably something on my side, or maybe it’s just not the right book for me, but the author has no control over my reaction or what state of mind I’m in. Those are all things that you could drive yourself crazy trying to control, because you can’t control them all. You can control yourself.
I would love for you to take us through some of the benefits of pitching. We touched on them a little bit.
That idea of captaining your own ship, of setting the direction that you want to go in versus letting the winds of fancy toss you about. The other thing is going after your goals in an intentional way, figuring out whom you want to partner with, whom you want to cold pitch, whom you want to have publish your book, which bookstores you want to carry your book, which bloggers you want to review your book. Does that blogger have an audience full of people that you think would really like your book versus sitting back and being like, “Well, I published it, now come on, sell off the shelves.”
Cold emailing allows you to take action, and the funny thing is that it seems like whenever you take action towards your goals, the Universe recognizes that movement, that motivation, and tends to open doors and windows that you didn’t even know existed. And then new opportunities start flowing into your world that are sometimes perfect fits for you. I can’t count the number of times I’ve started cold emailing or cold pitching and I get hits and stuff, like things are happening, but then all of a sudden this whole avalanche of opportunities comes roaring in and it’s amazing. I didn’t even want to work with this person, but I couldn’t think of a way to collaborate or a way to work with them, and the idea had happened on their side, and they’re reaching out to me.
So they are cold pitching you. That is so cool. I hope that is exactly what happens to all my clients who decide write a book to promote their brand or business. I hope they approach it not from the desperation, or of the desire of certainty, of having to know what’s gonna happen once the book is out. “What am I gonna get out of this?” Just being open to the experience and just seeing what comes their way as a result of writing the book, because no one can predict.
We haven’t figured that out yet. Maybe AI will figure that out for us.
Yeah, maybe we’ll have an algorithm for that!
So a large portion of my audience is like me, an introvert. And I know that for us especially, pitching can feel really awkward. We feel like we have to sell ourselves, but we have an impression that that’s kind of sleazy. We have to share our book with people when our book feels like our baby, you know, it’s sort of intimate. How do we get over the feeling of resistance?
That’s a great question. The thing that I’ve come to realize is that you need to see what you’ve created as a solution to someone’s problem. I’m also an introvert, and sometimes I can psych myself up, depending on the season. That’s the other part. Pay attention to your energy, pay attention to your moods. Sometimes I’ll be in a really great mood, and I’ll have all these ideas for pitching. Seize that opportunity! Don’t wait until you feel like, well, maybe it’ll come around tomorrow.
Do it now. Take advantage of that internal momentum. Don’t worry about whether it’s a bad first draft—that’s what editing is for.
But then also think of your book as being the solution to someone’s problem. I’m a lifelong bookworm. I majored in English literature in college because I couldn’t think of anything better than to spend my four years reading great books.
On the most basic level, think about your book as solving someone’s problem of “What am I gonna read next? I need a great story to dig into. I need some other world to have running parallel in the back of my head so that I’m looking forward to bedtime. I’m looking forward to, you know, those quiet moments with my coffee, and I get to read your book.” How can you start thinking about your book as that solution? People are out there looking for your book; they just don’t know it exists.
It’s your responsibility to go out and tell them, “I have this great book. I’ve spent years, I’ve spent days, I’ve spent weeks, I’ve spent hours on this book. I’ve invested my time and energy, which I’ll never get back, because I believe my book is that amazing.” That’s the place that you want to start thinking about it. It’s not sleazy because you’re offering a solution. I’m always on the lookout for the next great read because I want to get enveloped by that story. So if your book does it for me, that’s the perfect solution.
Yeah, absolutely. A lot of gold nuggets in there. What I take away from that as well is, even though it’s hard to do sometimes, just take the pressure off yourself throughout the book creation and launching process. Don’t expect it to be a silver-bullet solution if you’re desperate to make sales, you know, as many of us are at times, because it doesn’t exist. And I know for a fact that my audience is always coming from a place of service when they’re creating a book. The point isn’t to write a super long-winded sales pitch, cause nobody wants to read that.
That’s also the wrong way to do cold emailing! But for the book, when you come at it from a place of service, I always tell my authors, “If your book would help just one person, if it would change the life of one person, won’t it have been worth it?” And they always say yes. But your book is of course going to change more than one person. It’s inevitable. So you just have to trust the process and have faith.
Exactly, and I like your point about not making it about yourself as the author, because after you’ve published it, it’s not really about you anymore. It’s always gonna be about the other person. And so, if you can approach pitching and selling from that viewpoint of answering that person’s question, then whomever you’re talking to, whomever you’re cold pitching, removes all the pressure from yourself because you’re shifting your brain into problem-solving mode and “How can I help this person?”
Human brains are naturally wired to seek out problems and solve them. So that also relieves the pressure of, “I have to be this way, I have to say this, I have to look like this, I have to be bubbly and extroverted and happy and go-lucky and…” But once you shift into, “How can I help this person, how can I solve a problem for this person?” suddenly you have the space to breathe and think, and then your true personality tends to come out because you have that space and you feel that expansion.
Absolutely. That’s super relevant to cold outreach in general. When you’re approaching someone for the first time, you want to position yourself as solving a problem for them. You want to be helpful, and that’s the reason why I harp on about market research for your book so much. Because no one really wants to do it, they just wanna start the book from the first sentence and then write until the last sentence. They want to write the book that they want to write without thinking about whether it fills a gap in the market.
But the thing is, if you have offers, if you have products or services, you do the research before you launch those, right? If you’re good at what you do, you should be doing that. So it doesn’t have to be some arduous or scary process. It amounts sometimes to just having conversations with people like your ideal target readers. And that’s how you can also be sure to come at it from a place of, “Here, I made this for you,” whether it’s an entire book or a cold email, because you are helping that person on the other end solve a problem.
I like that. I like the idea of it being a gift or an offering. It feels more expansive.
Love it. Okay, I want to know, Laura, how do we keep pitching when we’re getting a lot of No’s?
I want to recognize right now that it is tough to keep going when you’re getting a lot of No’s. I also want to recognize that it’s probably a season. Things tend to ebb and flow. It’s just kind of the natural way of life on Earth. So it might be just a season of No’s, and that’s okay. I would encourage you to set a goal and then try to reach that goal.
And it should be a little bit of a stretch goal, not like, five, which is a very doable number, right? But maybe you send 20 or 30 because those on those first couple pitches, you’re going to get lots of valuable information—either they opened it, or they didn’t; they said, “I’m interested, but not now.” All of that is information that you can use to improve the next batch of pitches. So don’t just stop at five. Push through the resistance, and just keep going.
And then once you get to that goal, think, “Is it worth continuing? Has anything improved?” If not, let it sit on the back-burner for a couple of weeks and then start it back up. Just know that if you do put it on the back-burner, it’s gonna be very hard to get it started back up. So maybe instead just turn down the heat a little bit and keep it going instead of keeping it on full boil the entire time.
Gotta let it simmer, gotta let it simmer! I love that. A few questions came up for me. When do you have enough data to know if you can keep doing what you’re doing? Or is there something that you need to maybe change?
Your cold email has to be clear. That’s the number one obstacle that prevents your reader from saying yes. If you’re using language that maybe only you or a handful of people know, your reader doesn’t have that shared language background, right? So get someone to read your cold email. I like to use my spouse a lot because he knows just enough about what I do to be dangerous, but he can also spot the things someone on the receiving end might not necessarily get. Above all, be clear.
Usually once you’ve hit about 30 to 40 sends of the same email and it’s not working, then it’s time to start breaking it apart. If you’re not getting any opens, it’s probably your subject line. If you’re not getting any replies, there’s probably something in your email that’s not clear, that’s preventing them from saying yes.
You also have to think about how relevant you are to your cold email reader. Set up your book as the solution to the problem. So it depends on your audience. If you’re pitching for a publishing house, does your book fit within the genres that they typically publish, and do you make that super clear? Do you show that you’ve done your homework, do you show that you’ve done your research? Maybe you can tighten things up.
I can’t emphasize enough: how can you be really clear? Make it so that your cold email reader understands what you’re saying. And it sounds super simple, right? “Be clear.” But it’s actually really, really, really hard. You can think that you’re being super clear. And I’ve typed out many an email in my time where I’m like, “This is super clear.” And then they’re like, “What? What do you mean? What are you talking about?”
Have you ever had a conversation with someone, and they came away with a totally different takeaway than you intended? Being clear is something you’ll probably come up against a lot.
Especially if you’re a woman, that might come off as feeling blunt or direct. Sometimes as women, we tend to cushion what we’re saying with extra words or flowery language. It would be great if you could take that out. Another tip is to say it out loud and see if that’s much clearer for you.
Can you leave us with some tips for following up? For example, if you can tell the person is opening but then they’re not replying to you, do you suggest following up forever or a certain number of times? This won’t apply to people who are trying to submit to traditional publishing houses or book agents because usually those guys are pretty clear in their directions, like, “Do not follow up with us, we got your email, don’t send us anything else, one is fine.” But for someone else who is maybe pitching a collaboration partner to help market the book, what do you suggest?
I say follow up. Just do it. Everybody’s inboxes are way busier than they were before, and they’re getting busier every day. The added benefit of following up is you get that really trusted “Re:” in your subject line. I want you to go into your original email and hit reply so that you keep all your emails in the same thread so you’re not making them go find your original email because there’s a 99% chance they won’t. So keep it all in one thread.
And then think about the kind of the cadence of when you want to follow up. Think about what holidays are happening, if summer just happened in their world, if they might have kids, and tailor your following up to what’s going on (that you’re guessing) in their life.
Because if some are parents and their kids are out of school, they might be adjusting to a new pattern of life, and they might be a little bit slower to reply to emails. So you coming in every day is a little bit too heavy-handed. Usually a good rule of thumb is every two to three business days, and then you kind of like stretch it out between each subsequent follow-up.
Fascinating. I love this conversation. Laura, I learned a ton. You’ve validated a ton of what I was doing early on in my career, so that felt very good.
I do feel as though we could go on for a long time and perhaps make a second edition of this interview with a lot more nuggets from you because this was fascinating. Thank you so much for joining me.
Awesome. Thank you for having me. It was so much fun to talk cold emails with you and in a totally different light. This is so cool.
Laura wrote a viral article for Copyhackers and has been featured on highly-ranked outlets like The Fizzle Show, Copy Chief Radio, CrazyEgg, and Unbounce. She has also spoken at conferences like MicroConf and Shine Bootcamp.
She lives in Denver with her husband and three sons. You can find Laura at lauralopuch.com. She recommends you start on the Everything Page: lauralopuch.com/everything and join her email list to get the only emails that help you get new clients.