Friday, August 3, 2007

Query letter e-mail etiquette

As with any form of business correspondence, there are rules to writing an electronic mail query. E-mail has become a standard way to communicate over the last 10 years, but writing an e-mail to your mom, or your best friend, is an entirely different animal than e-mailing an editor.

Just as you would dress appropriately for an interview, think about how your words are coming across the computer screen. A business e-mail should read much like a business letter – clear, concise and professional. Do not use emoticons or slang. “Familiarity breeds contempt” may be a cliché, but it’s also true.

Do your homework. The closer you can get to e-mailing the exact editor you’re trying to reach, the better chance of seeing your byline in print. Acquire the latest issue of the magazine you’re targeting and read the masthead. It will list all of the editors and departments for the publication.

If there is no e-mail address listed in the masthead, look through the pages to see if there are any addresses inside. Most magazines have a web site to complement the print version, and you may find e-mail addresses there. You can also try if you don’t have a copy of the current issue available to you.

If you can’t find an e-mail address for the editor you want - in the subject line of your e-mail - type Query or Submission and then the name of the person or department you want to reach. If an assistant receives the e-mail, they’ll most likely forward it on to the correct person.

Once your e-mail arrives at its destination, make sure your contact information is easy to find. Contact information is usually found at the top of a business letter. When using e-mail for business, contact information is placed at the bottom. Most e-mail programs allow you to create a signature that is automatically included as soon as you hit send.

Be sure to include all information you wish the recipient to know.

Mary Lewis
409 Water Street
Jordan, MN 55352
(952) 492-6017

If you have a fax number or cell phone number, you can include them, as well.

Do your research, be polite and courteous and give the editor an idea that grabs them!

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