Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Email Ettiquette and Social Media

Email and social media really are elements of our lives that are here to stay. There are certainly a lot of benefits of both. We get immediate feedback, we theoretically save a few trees and we can get news a lot quicker (even if the news is considered "alternative facts). However, lately, I have seen a huge number of people who are really missing the mark when it comes to email and social media. People seem to forget that since we are not seeing you face to face any more, that your digital connection really is your first impression. And frankly, many of you are making a very poor first impression.

I want to spend some time focusing on several different aspects today. For some of you, this may be a reminder. For others, it may be a smack in the face.

Let's start with Email. This is a really big one with me. When you send an email to someone, this needs to be considered BUSINESS CORRESPONDANCE. You are not on a first name basis with this person. You are not spending your time telling me all about your life with your cats. Publishing is a business! So treat it as such. Be professional and show us that you really are serious about your writing career.

Another angle of this would be for those of you who hate the whole form letter response. So many writers complain that "I just got a form letter." OK, that may be the case, but when you send out the same form letter to every editor or agent, or for that matter, you send out one email with everyone cc'd in the message, expect that form letter.

Although there will be a lot of the same information that shows up in each of your letters, you still need to treat each one as an individual.

I want to take a slight side note here and talk about responses to emails. This is really a pet peeve with me. If someone sends you an email, you need to respond. Silence is not an option. Here at the agency, I try to let people know that it may be a while for me to get back to you on a submission, but I will get back to you. Even if someone sends you an email, but you know it may be a while before you get to it, do what I do...send them a "got it" message. It doesn't take much.

Now, back to the submissions. If you do send something to an editor or agent, and they say it will be 3 months for a response, please wait that time. Don't push it. Also, on that note, don't immediately start pushing exactly on that 3 month time. Be flexible.

So, what about social media? Like email, this is a digital first impression so make sure this is what you want us to see. If you want me to see what you are doing on Facebook, keep it professional. If you want me to see what you are doing on professional sites like Linked In, then keep it professional.

I would also add that social media IS NOT a tool for submitting projects to editors or agents. There may be times when we run contests, but other than that, go through the normal routes. Don't look for shortcuts!

Look, I understand that you have heard editors and agents say they don't look at these other things and only focus on the story. Yes, part of that is true. In the end, the only thing we are concerned with is that story, but, when you make a bad impression with that email or social media, expect a no response.

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