About Annoying Emails…

Sunday, February 28, 2016
Last time we met, I shared a couple of cardinal sins having to do with spelling, grammar, and punctuation. This week, after dealing with about a trillion emails, I decided to share…well, maybe not sins so much as annoyances, little things that nearly drove me around the bend.

You don’t want to be the one responsible for driving editors, agents, or publishers around the bend, do you? So let’s take a look and vow to change our errant ways.

But I’ve Had This Email Forever

It’s so tempting to keep the first email address you’ve ever had. I’m sure when you thought up a cutesy name like SexySuzytheWriter it seemed like a great idea. And if you write erotica and don’t want the teachers at your child’s grade school to know your name, then I will give you a pass.

But if you now write stories for children and still use the SexySuzy email, then it’s time to make a clean break. It’s time to be a professional and use your real name. Besides, those cutesy names are so hard to remember.

If I have a list of authors that I’ve contacted, and I need to contact them again, and their name is in their email, then it’s a simple procedure. I type, the names pop up. But invariably, I come to a name that does not pop up. Oh, snap. What name did that person go by? Ilovemonkeys? FictionFan? Bob’sYourUncle?

Make it easy for someone to reach and remember you. Just use your name.

Oh, No, You Didn’t

So you receive an email, one asking for a writer bio, or maybe a slew of edits. And you promptly send it back with all the information. And then you receive another email, from the same editor or whomever, asking for the writer bio or the slew of edits. At which point, you feel compelled to defend your honor: “But I emailed that information already,” you say. Which requires another email from the other end, asking again for the bio and/or edits.

Before long, you’ve got an argumentative thread that a nuclear physicist couldn’t untangle. So do yourself and the person on the other end a favor: don’t argue, just respond to the email. Needing to be right can sometimes give the wrong impression. And speaking of wrong…

Better Late Than Never, Right?


But wait. You have a good excuse. A personal loss, family on vacation, the laptop blew up in an unfortunate experiment. When you have a legitimate reason for a late response, by all means say so. The person on the other end will most likely understand and try to work with you.

But legitimate reasons are scarcer than hen’s teeth. Usually, what goes out is an email like this: “Ack! I just saw this email! I hope it’s not too late to…”

Chances are very good that it is too late and now you have put someone in a difficult position. Or at the very least, you have branded yourself, but not in a positive way. So break the “Hope I’m not too late” email habit and respond to an email when your receive it.

If you want to drive an agent or editor or publisher crazy, I won’t stop you. Just make sure it’s because your writing is awesome and not because your emails are annoying.

~Cathy C. Hall


Sioux Roslawski said...

I usually handle the "Oh, no, you didn't" situation by blaming myself.

"I think I may have neglected to send you such and such, so here it is." That makes up for the occasional times when it IS my fault...

Donna Volkenannt said...

Good list, Cathy.
I'm ok on #1. I use my name in my e-mail and haven't changed it in years.
For #2 - I've been guilty of this one in the past, but I've learned just to resend what I've already sent without a snarky comment -- at least not a written one, I have been known to snark in my chair.
I've been guilty of #3, especially to blog buddies after missing helpful or humorous posts, but I'm trying to get better.
Thanks for your timely advice.

Cathy C. Hall said...

Oh, I think we've all been guilty of the back-n-forth emails and the "Oops! I just saw this" email, Donna. I just didn't realize--until I was dealing with a lot of emails--how annoying it was! (And by "it", I mean "me.") :-)

Half of fixin' a problem is being aware of it, right? I promise I'll never argue in emails again (but I'll probably be late in responding to one or two...sigh)

Lisa Ricard Claro said...

Yes, to all of these. The one that annoys me the most is the email address. I have spent a lot of time "on the hunt" for a contact. The gmail search feature helps with this, but it's still a pain and expenditure of time I shouldn't have to spend. As to the others, well...I've probably been guilty at one time or another, but not recently, I hope. The older I get the less likely I am to make excuses for myself. I'm more likely to say, "Oops. I screwed up..." Most people lose their steam to be annoyed when you fess up right away and apologize for the lapse.

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