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Sending Emails – Are you Doing it Right?

February 27th, 2013

I know, I know – you think email is informal and that there are no rules when you use it. Wrong! Email is no different to sending a letter, especially when you are approaching editors about the possibility of publication. It seems that many people believe that email does not require a salutation or valediction, some even think that full sentences are not required and don’t get me started on text speak!

So, in response to this, I’ve detailed a few basic rules you should follow:

–       First keep it professional. If the person you are emailing is a personal friend or family member, you can be as familiar as you like. However, if they are a stranger, treat them the same way you would in a letter and be formal. Start with Dear Mr Smith or whatever the editor’s name is and you should take the time to find out, instead of just writing Dear Sir/Madam. Don’t sign off with kisses and try not to use emoticons – smiley faces and the like.

–       Don’t use text- speak. Not only is this incredibly difficult to read, it looks sloppy and as if you simply cannot be bothered to write properly. The vagueness of text speak can also lead to misunderstandings, which you really want to try and avoid.

–       Do use correct spelling, grammar and punctuation. The reasons for this are pretty similar to the ones given above and are fairly obvious too! If you send an email to an editor asking if they’d like to publish your article, it’s not going to go down well if that email is full of spelling, grammar and punctuation errors.

–       Keep the email format clean and simple. Multi-coloured emails with italic fonts of varying sizes, underlining and overuse of bold highlighting are sure to put anyone off, never mind an editor. It makes the message difficult to read and will more than likely give the recipient a headache.

–       Use the correct layout. Make sure you follow the normal layout of a letter. The only difference is you don’t need to put the address at the top of the letter. But, you do need to use paragraphs and spacing in the same way. So rather than this:

Hello, are you interested in publishing an article on dogs that I’ve written in your magazine. I have been keeping dogs for a lot of years now and have a lot of experience of German Shepherds chewing my stuff. I think I could teach other people how to look after their dogs too. What do you think? Thanks, hope to hear from you soon, Mary

You should be doing something like this:

Dear Mr Price,

I am a huge fan of your magazine Dogs Monthly and always enjoy the informative articles on animal behaviour you publish. As a dog owner of many years, I feel I have gathered a wealth of knowledge on the behavioural issues of German Shepherds and would like to propose an article on the subject. The working title of the article is ‘What to do When German Shepherds Chew!’ It will focus on the well-known, but often misunderstood, issue of inappropriate chewing of items, such as shoes.

The article will begin with a brief look at the history of the German Shepherd, then move on to the natural behaviours of breed. Descriptions of the problem behaviour, the dangers of inappropriate chewing and ways to stop it come next with a final section of chewing stories – funny and serious – and photos. I have enclosed a full outline for your information.

I hope you find the idea of interest and I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Warmest regards,

Sally Smith

It’s really easy to see how much more professional this version is and it’s certainly more likely to get a response from an editor.

Okay, that’s my main bug bears out of the way. If you follow these rules you’ll certainly be well on your way to impressing any editor. Now you just have to back it up with a great piece of writing!

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