LookingForClues - Article

  Email Etiquette

What would we do these days without email? Most American families now have a home computer and many find that staying in touch with their friends and family is easier with email than "snail" mail. Writing a letter on a computer is faster and easier to edit than writing by hand. It takes almost no time for an email to reach its destination. You could have many messages sent and replies received in the time it would take a letter to be delivered.

Email has become almost indispensable in business. However, the style and format for a business email should be more formal than when writing to friends. Below, we present an article that provides guidance for sending business emails. The article is specifically geared to writers or other freelancers who are writing emails to prospective employers, agents or content buyers.

Since we are a content buyer, I will say a few words about what we prefer to see when we read our incoming emails. First, it is important that the Subject field of the email is filled in and is concise but meaningful. If a writer is submitting an article for possible publication on this web site, we'd like to see a Subject such as "LFC submission - My Proposed Topic". Substitute the topic of your proposed article for "My Proposed Topic". If the Subject is blank or doesn't clearly indicate the purpose of the email, we may delete it without even reading it!

We get many emails each and every day. If you want to stand out in the crowd, say something to get our attention, but say it succinctly. Of course you should provide the information we ask for in our Writer's Guidelines, but you will be more likely to be remembered if you use a little humor or point out something unique about yourself.

The topic of your proposed article is a major factor in our decision about whether or not we are interested in buying your submission. Be sure that you understand our Writer's Guidelines and have read several of our published articles so that you know what we may be interested in buying. If your article is passionate and gives solutions for a general condition or problem, along with some description of your encounters with the topic, we'll be more likely to be interested in buying your piece.

We endeavor to be businesslike yet friendly in all of our emails. We will be honest but not overly harsh in our evaluations of all submitted work. We state clearly what the next step in the process will be and we provide a timeframe that we strive to keep to. This, and the points mentioned above, is what we look for as well in the emails we receive.

Related Links:

  • NetManners.com is a site with extensive information on how to behave online. Their multi-part article on Net Etiquite 101 should be essential reading for all computer users!
  • Email Replies is a site that explains how to send effective email replies. It discusses why email etiquette is necessary and lists email etiquette rules. It provides advice on implementing an email policy for businesses.
  • Read what American Express' Small Business site has to say about Email Etiquette.
  • Here is another good article on Email Etiquette.

For more information on Email and Business Etiquette, we recommend the following books:

E-mail Basics (SparkCharts)
E-mail Basics (SparkCharts)
This two-page chart covers: Basic universal email features. The 10 cardinal rules of email. 5 questions to ask yourself before sending an email. Rules and etiquette for personal email. Rules and etiquette for professional email. Emoticons, abbreviations, and acronyms. Instant messaging and text messaging. Spam. Viruses and worms.
Because Netiquette Matters!: Your Comprehensive Reference Guide to EMail Etiquette and Proper Technology Use
Because Netiquette Matters!: Your Comprehensive Reference Guide to EMail Etiquette and Proper Technology Use
Imagine... You can practice proper e-mail etiquette and avoid looking inexperienced in just 24 hours! In Judith Kallos' powerful new book, Because Netiquette Matters!, learn the nuances of e-mail etiquette and every day technology use from a personal and business perspective. In easy to understand terminology, the author has a conversation with you as though you were getting your personalized tutoring session on the important issue of online etiquette. Many of the topics covered by the book are often encountered by people online, and they will only take a little effort on your part to apply. With the combination of this book and its growing website, you now have access to this important information on or offline so you may thrive online! Remember, online ignorance is not bliss and perception is the only reality!
E-Writing: 21st-Century Tools for Effective Communication
E-Writing: 21st-Century Tools for Effective Communication
Are you guilty of email "trigger finger"? Do you constantly "cc" people you never even see? What are today's rules for conducting business over the Internet? Now, The Elements of Style meets "the Miss Manners of memos" in the ultimate writing guide for the digital age. E-Writing is poised to become the new bible of business writing. Accessible and inviting, this Web-savvy "how-to" book promises to transform anxious e-mail hacks and mediocre memo writers into eloquent electronic scribes in no time at all.
Encyclopedia of Business Letters, Fax Memos, and E-Mail
Encyclopedia of Business Letters, Fax Memos, and E-Mail
Here you'll find the most complete and up-to-date collection of model business correspondence for every conceivable occasion -- sample letters, memos, and e-mails you can use as is or adapt for your own purposes. The result? You eliminate hours of wasted time and effort composing correspondence; we've already done the work for you. You can get your message across clearly, easily, and quickly...so you cut writing time and can focus on more important tasks. The Encyclopedia contains more than 300 model letters with instructions for adapting each to your particular situation. Letters are organized into chapters by category, and the detailed table of contents guides you quickly to the letter that best suits your needs.

Enjoy our exclusive Feature Article:


E-Etiquette 101

by Nicole Allard   7/26/05

Not long ago, the only communications freelance writers had with editors were by phone and snail mail. Freelancers mailed out submissions or queries, and patiently waited for a phone call or a letter in the mail. It may have brought news of acceptance, or rejection. If there was that always welcome acceptance, there was then the wait for the payment check in the mail.

Although we still sometimes linger around our mailboxes, we now have the convenience and ease of the almighty Internet. We have online guidelines, which usually replace hard copies. We have email and fax, usually replacing the phone. Although libraries are a vast resource, we generally don't need to spend gas money and time getting there. We have the convenience of communications and research, all from the comfort of our homes.

I think some of us have used the web for fun for so long that when it comes down to starting a freelancing career, we may forget to present ourselves in a professional manner. Check out these top 5 email communications mistakes, and see if you need to adjust your messages.

Top 5 Email Communication Mistakes:

1. Attachments: Never, ever, ever (did I say never!) send an editor/potential client an attachment in an email, unless your goal is to have your message immediately deleted. The only exception to this rule is if it's solicited. If the guidelines state that you can send documents as an attachment, go ahead and do it. If the editor emails you asking for an attachment, go for it. If it is not asked for, don't send it. Simply cut and paste everything you need to send. The reason for deletion is that there is a risk involved in opening attachments. Viruses, worms, stuff that can screw up your computer (sometimes irreversibly) can be maliciously embedded in them. People are no longer willing to take the risk. Even if you have already had contact with that editor, that doesn't mean that they are willing to trust you.

2. Color/Graphics: Background colors and/or graphics might be fun to send to family and friends, but it isn't a good idea to send to potential clients and editors. Sending a colorful message with butterflies (or whatever) in it will only make the editor assume you're an amateur, and they will probably delete it. Colored text probably isn't so bad, but it's best to stick with black on white. Backgrounds and images take up more memory than a plain text email, and that's no good for an editor who receives hundreds of submissions and queries a day.

3. Misspellings: I think I speak for editors everywhere when I say, For the Love of Puppies, use your spell-checker! It's simple, and only takes a couple seconds to spell-check your message before sending it. If you don't already have it running, you can usually turn this feature on in the options or account settings part of your email program. By doing this, your message will be automatically checked for spelling errors when you press send. Don't forget to proofread it as well, as spell-checkers don't usually catch grammatical errors.

4. Poor Format: You're not writing to your sister to say 'hey', you're emailing a potential client, whoever that may be. Your message should show that you are a professional. A message like the following does not portray this:
"I have a few article ideas for your publication.
-Idea 1
-Idea 2"

That message might be okay if you're sending a message to an editor that you write for consistently. Under any other circumstances, if you want to be taken seriously, your message should be formatted like this:

"Dear Editor (or their name),
(Insert Irresistible Query)
Thank you for your time.
Freelance Writer"

Basically, it's best to treat your email queries as you would a snail mail letter.

5. I'm a Beginner!: Just because you're a beginner, doesn't mean you have to announce it! Stick to highlighting your skills, experiences, education, strengths, etc. There is no need to let the editor know any of your weaknesses or limitations.

When communicating with an editor, you need to demonstrate a few important attributes:

1. Professionalism: You are a self-employed professional, and are offering quality services.
2. Enthusiasm: You are happy to do the work, and want to do it for that particular publication.
3. Ability: You are willing and able to take on what that project entails.
4. Promptness: You will meet any and all deadlines.
5. Hard-working: You will do what it takes to provide quality work that you and the editor can be proud of.

That's E-etiquette 101 in a nutshell. Remember to be as persuasive as possible, without going overboard. You want the editor to feel that their publication will benefit from your work, as it should. Once you are able to do that, practice it often. Practice may not make perfect, but you will become the best you can be. It does become second nature with experience, and that's a wonderful thing. If you need more than just this article can offer, search for a book or take a class about writing sales or query letters. It can be quite beneficial to learn as much as you possibly can about selling your services.

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