Do you remember how school taught you how to write letters? Addresses on one side, familiarity greetings, and signing it with personal endearments such as “I can’t wait to write to you again.” If not, you probably didn’t do the pen pal project.
Contacting freelancers and writing to submission editors for magazines, agents, and publishing houses seem daunting. Many times the writer’s nerves make them add “terms of endearment” because if they are writing to a friend, nothing can go wrong.
Let’s go through some dos and don’ts.
Get a professional sounding email.
If you’ve never thought about contacting freelancers or interacting with publishers, the first thing you should do is have a professional sounding email address. While a freelancer might not care if your email is CumInMe6969@gmail.com, a more professional email firstname.lastname@example.org goes a lot further.
Professionals don’t care if your email is at Gmail, Yahoo, or your personal website. I recommend Gmail because it is the most widespread system for emails, it has access to GoogleDrive/Google Docs and Dropbox, and it’s easy to share from.
Don’t include personal endearments.
When writing emails—standard business emails or sending query emails—leave the terms of endearments out of it.
Don’t fill the emails with words and phrases like you’re trying out pick-up lines for a date or talking to your dearest friend in the whole wide world. Keep it formal, otherwise, you sound more desperate than professional.
Keep it concise.
By keeping the flowery language out of it and the paragraphs short, your emails will be concise. It also breaks up a wall of text depending on how the person read emails (phone, tablet, computer), and they can tell when you’re changing subject matters and follow along easier.
A slipup isn’t going to kibosh your chances. I’m sure plenty of small grammar errors slip through on this blog, and only when I reread it months down the road do I go “well, dang.” There are a dozen or more free proofing softwares. Use them so your first impression won’t be a mountain of errors.
Keys to a good email:
If you’ve read the guidelines and they don’t specify exactly what they want in the subject line, be sure to include relevant information.
Example: Submitting a short story to an anthology.
Subject Line: Submissions—“Title of the Anthology” “Title of the story” “Word Count”.
Example: Inquiring to a freelancer for a cover
Subject Line: Job Inquiry—eBook and Print cover, Urban Fantasy
Either way, both subject lines show the specifics of what the email is about (submission, inquiry), what it is for (anthology, ebook & print cover)
Try to find the submission editor’s name or the freelancer’s name. It is as simple as
“Afternoon Mr. Harbor,” or “Hello Ms. Jax,”.
If you’re writing for submissions (agent, publisher, magazine), this is a standard way of doing the salutations
Sea and Cloud Magazine,
This is where you write the important information. Remember the helpful hints above: straight to the point and small paragraphs. NO TERMS OF ENDEARMENT.
Keep it simple.
You really don’t have to include “I look forward to hearing from you,” or “I can’t wait to hear from you again.” A simple “Thank you for your time and consideration,” Is perfect.
This should be the easiest thing you do. Most email programs allow you to save multiple variations of an email signature. Keep one for those professional moments and don’t worry that you might have messed up ever again.
Phone Number if Applicable
Follow up Email
Occasionally you must follow up, ie submission application. The same guidelines as before. Make sure your subject line is concise. You can either reply to the original email or create a new email.
Subject Line: Follow Up “Anthology” “Title of work”
I am following up on the short story “title” that I submitted for “anthology.” I submitted it in June 2019.
Thank you for your time,
If you don’t remember the specifics of when you submitted, check your email’s send folder. It’s likely still in there. If you submitted via a form on their website, then don’t worry about the date, but if you could ball park it, it might make searching for it on the editor’s end easier. You could also utilize things like Google Excel to keep track of who/when/what you send.
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This post was edited/proofed by ProWritingAid.