Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Respect the Email

By Laurie Epps

We've gotten so used to corresponding by email, that the very idea of sending a letter via snail mail seems foreign to us. I don't know about you, but I love the feel of a handwritten letter written on pretty stationary. I've got a friend named Betty that our handwritten letters are still the main form of correspondence. However, for the business world, waiting for the postman to arrive is very inefficient.

The norm for the business world is to send a thoughtfully written email. Problem is that it's often taken for granted since it's also the main way we communicate with our friends too. An important thing my professor in college used to say was "to remember you're not writing your buddy." I think that little tidbit of advice is important to remember when querying for work, or even if you're reaching out to readers. Email is tragically overlooked.

We're still working in the book, Connections: Social Media and Networking Techniques for Writers by Edie Melson. Edie gives us the following suggestions as to why we neglect our email.

  • We're lazy. Because of the huge volumes of email we receive each day, it seems unimportant. But, as writers, we're held to a higher standard than the average joe. So, please, proofread anything you send out. Grammar, spelling, punctuation, syntax and structure all matter when you're writing professionally (especially to an editor, agent, or reader).
  • The conversational tone makes us ramble a bit or we forget the basic rules of writing.
  • We write friends and colleagues to try to impose on those relationships. Try to remember, they're helping us out. Don't make your email so casual in tone that it becomes difficult to decipher. At the very least, this is irritating, but it could lead them to write you back and simply say they're too busy to look at it. Avoid them shutting you down by taking a few extra minutes to keep it professional.

An effective way to keep it professional, is to keep a running list beside you of common errors. Also, look for your own repetitive mistakes (as assigned in our connect activity today).

Some common email errors:

  • Misspelled Name(s).
  • Overuse of Exclamation Points.
  • Extra or inconsistent use of spaces between sentences. The new standard is one space. I know, they taught us (baby boomers & Generation X) to use two spaces back in the day but the new standard is only one.
  • Trying to say too much at once (break it down).
  • There are many more grammar type mistakes listed on pp.124-126 of your text. I just included the ones I've caught myself doing.

Connect Activity:
Pull out a couple of emails you've written, and save them as a word document. Scan them visually for common errors, and create a list of the mistakes you've made. Type up, and print the list so you can keep it handy while you're composing emails.

Laurie Epps is a recent graduate of Anderson University majoring in Creative Writing. Already Laurie is most published as a feature article writer, essayist, and poet. A seeker of beauty and world traveler, Laurie hopes to grow into a career in travel writing illuminating the many stories that make us human despite our differences. Currently, Laurie also has a Thoughtful Thursday column dedicated to the fine art of poetry.

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