In this day and age of social media, all too often everyone is very casual. You see it in tweets, texts and Facebook posts. LOL! OMG! And all other sorts of shorthand. (And don’t even get me started on the pictures with improperly spelled words or incorrect grammar.)
But one of the most common forms of written business communication is e-mail. And all authors should learn how to write a professional e-mail. This is not an e-mail message to your mom or brother or your honey. This is a message to another business or professional.
This topic came about through a discussion with my husband. He hired a young 19-year-old woman to be his receptionist/legal secretary. She readily admitted that she doesn’t know how to send a professionally written e-mail. I blame a lot of that on people no longer writing letters. Many of the elements of a business letter should still be in an e-mail.
I receive quite a few e-mails from other authors wanting to be on my blog to publicize their novels. Many times those e-mails leave a lot to be desired. So I am writing this for all the authors who correspond with other professionals – cover designers, editors, agents, and other authors.
Start with a salutation. “Hello Susan,” or “Greetings Ms. Noble,” or perhaps even go for the more formal “Dear Mr. Miller.” For some professionals, a simple “Hi” is too informal. Knowing your audience is the key.
The body of the e-mail will depend on why you are writing. If it is the continuation of a series of e-mails it could be something like, “Please find attached the documents you requested.” Or if you are sending out a query email, “I am fantasy author and am looking for a cover artist. I received your name from Sally Jenkins after you designed her latest book cover.”
Get to the point of your e-mail as quickly as possible. Your main point should be in the first few sentences or if possible the very first sentence.
Before you sign off, be sure to include a sentence that encourages them to reply with questions or comments. Just because you know what you are trying to convey doesn’t mean it will always come across that way to others.
“Please let me know if you have any questions.” Or “Please let me know if you need any changes to the attached document.”
Also, it is polite to thank your reader for their time. You can add, “Thank you for considering me for your blog.” Or “I look forward to hearing from you.”
End with your name, position, and a way to contact you. I am fine with a thank you before the name but you can end with “Best,” “Sincerely,” or any number of closing lines.
E-mail Writing Tips
- Double check your spelling and punctuation.
- Don’t type in all CAPS as this is considered shouting. And don’t write in all lower-case letters either.
- Don’t use the text/social media abbreviations and acronyms.
- Be brief.
- Reply promptly to serious messages. If you need more time before sending a detailed reply at least send a message that their e-mail was received and read.
- Don’t write when you are annoyed or angry.