QueryTracker Blog

Helping Authors Find Literary Agents

Monday, December 5, 2011

Begin as you mean to go on

I got an email recently from SoccerGirlie@emaildomain-dot-com*, which wouldn't have startled me except that it was from my son's religious education teacher.

I'm sure she's a lovely woman, but...?

You probably would not sign on to do business with a real estate agent whose email address was WillDanceForBeer@something-dot-com, right? But I've seen agents tweeting or blogging that people often query with email addresses that are less than professional. Addresses like HotChickie@whatever-dot-com don't exactly give off that professional vibe.

Get a separate email address for writing-related business. It's easy to get another one, so there's no excuse. Do it now. Even if you think your From line tells us something about you, it's better to tell the world that you're a professional. Your name should appear in the FROM line as your first name and your last name or however you intend it to appear on the cover of your book. That means no From line such as The Smith Family or Mrs. Jane Doe.  And no Soccer Girlie, even if you've won the World Cup.

Begin as you mean to go on. Introduce yourself with your bestselling-author-name.

(Unless you intend to use a pen name. But even then, use your legal name in the From line.)

That email account? Give it a signature. Give it a professional-looking signature. Not your favorite quote from Mystery Science Theater 3000 (which yes, I do sometimes use on my personal email account) but a signature with your name as it will appear on your book cover, your website address, and no ascii art.

No colors except black and white please. No utterly gorgeous curly fonts that are unreadable. No queries that play music or have artwork embedded in the background.

Begin as you mean to go on. If you intend to write professionally, start being professional. Start now.

The common advice in the business world is to dress for your next position. If you're in middle management and want to be in upper management, you dress one "click" higher than you have to in order to insinuate that you're capable of better things than you've got now.

Your email query is your suit and tie. Dress for your next position.

*I did change the instructor's email address significantly, but you get the point.


Jane Lebak is the author of The Guardian (Thomas Nelson, 1994), Seven Archangels: Annihilation (Double-Edged Publishing, 2008) and The Boys Upstairs (MuseItUp, 2010). At Seven Angels, Four Kids, One Family, she blogs about what happens when a distracted daydreamer and a gamer geek attempt to raise four children. She is represented by the riveting Roseanne Wells of the Marianne Strong Literary Agency.


Deb Salisbury, Magic Seeker and Mantua-Maker said...

I totally agree. I've gotten emails from addresses so ... startling? inappropriate? ... that I've deleted the email unread. I'm not about to reply to a creepy email address, and I can easily see an agent ignoring a query from an unprofessional address.

Marsha Sigman said...

Great post! I have a seperate email address for all my writing and have from day one. It keeps it free from school/dayjob/family emails too.

And now I must go look up quotes from Mystery Science Theater 3000.lol

Becca said...

In my attempt to have a more professional email name, I opened "writer.(last name)@domain.com"

Would I be correct to assume this still doesn't really cut it, and I should go straight for the firstname.lastname angle?

Unknown said...

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Jane Lebak said...

Becca, I wouldn't necessarily go with something like writer.smith@domain-dot-com, but it's probably not going to raise any eyebrows.

The email address is part of the package deal, and if your from: line has your name in it, then that's what will pop up first. So a querier will probably have Jane Doe as the most visible part of her name even if her email address is something like Vampire-Slayer@whatever.

It's my opinion that whole words catch the eye more than a bunch of characters. If I use jlebak (which I don't because another family member does) it gets overlooked as nonsense characters unless someone's paying attention. Whole words are more easily noticed because the brain assigns them a meaning.

writer.smith is going to parse in the brain and be noticed. It probably won't be laughed at, which is what you want to avoid. If an agent is interested in the query but on the fence, it probably won't push them over to the "don't request" side.