As e-queries/e-submissions continue to increase in popularity, we may need to be reminded of proper e-mail etiquette.
- Be sure that the publisher you are approaching is open to e-mail contacts. More are each year—but not all yet.
- Know whether they want the query or manuscript copied into the message or attached. Some don’t want it in the message because the material loses all its formatting. Others won’t open attachments because of the fear of viruses. The market guide or their guidelines will tell you which they want.
- Your subject line is also critical. You want it to reflect exactly what you are sending. It might say such things as “Article Query Enclosed,” “Requested manuscript: article title,” or “Article for Consideration.” If you are known by the editor, it might say “Article Submission from Your Name.” The important thing is to make it very clear what is included in the e-mail and/or attachment.
- The letter itself needs to be the same type of formal query you would send by mail. Make sure it is professional, well organized, with no misspelled words, poor grammar , or the like. Always include your full contact information—not just an e-mail address.
- Even though it is sent by e-mail, don’t expect an immediate response. Editors tend to handle e-mail queries/submissions in two different ways. Some may shoot back an immediate response—or at least an acknowledgment that they received it. However, others handle them in much the same way as they do hard copy submissions. They will simply print it out and put it in the same pile as other unsolicited mail or e-mail submissions. In that case you can expect to hear within their posted time limit for responses.
- Watch the length of your query letter. Unless there’s a good reason for it to be longer, keep your letter to one page (meaning it won’t be more than a page when the editor prints it out).
- And finally, don’t assume a No on this query is the end of your relationship with this editor/publication. Many writers make the mistake of trying a publication once and if they are rejected never try that one again. Editors are looking for writers who want to write for them. Writers who understand who they are, who their readers are, and who share their vision for that audience or reader. Your persistence in approaching that publisher will get their attention.