Tuesday, March 13, 2012

What's in a Name: Email Edition by Andy Scheer

I got a query the other day from a woman named Tanya—at least I thought I did. When I checked my list of incoming emails, there was her name.

But when I opened the email—surprise! The query had come from her husband—a guy named Brad—who was piggybacking on his wife's email account.

Fortunately, I already had an easy decision. Tayna's husband was pitching a book that plowed much the same ground as a project I already represent. To avoid a conflict of interest, I suggested Mr. Tanya try another agent.

But if his project had attracted me, I would have had a nagging question: Why didn't he use his own email account? Is he shy? Is he a technophobe? Neither is an attractive prospect when everyone expects authors to promote their work electronically. At the least, the writer had given no thought to communicating an air of professionalism.

Cutesy Names
Which brings me to writers who insist on using “creative” email addresses. You've seen them. Addresses like GodsChosenWriter@isp.com. Or CutePuppies&Kittens@isp.com. Or BonnetsandVampiresWrytr@isp.com.

Please, save your creativity for your prose. In an email address, you can't go wrong with   FirstnameLastname@isp.com. Or Firstname@FirstnameLastname.com.

Having an email account you use exclusively for your writing adds to the impression you're serious about the craft. Much more than a funky-named account that's shared with your personal email. And definitely more than your spouse's account.

What's the cost of making a poor first impression? A lot more than the price of establishing a free email account for your writing business--in your own name.


Timothy Fish said...

I have more e-mail addresses than I care to count, so I agree that it would be easy enough for Mr. Tanya to get his own e-mail address. But at the same time, I can tell you that even though my pastor has his own e-mail address, he is never the first person to read his e-mail. That seems to work for him, so I don’t criticize, I just facilitate his approach to e-mail by redirecting it to the church secretary. In some ways, it makes even more sense for a husband and wife to share an e-mail address. Only one person need check the e-mail and that person can tell the other if there is something of importance. That being said, it is also simple enough to setup Outlook to retrieve e-mail from two addresses, so one person could still check the e-mail but each person would have their own address.

Diana said...

To repeat what Andy said and I agree with:
Having an email account you use exclusively for your writing adds to the impression you're serious about the craft.
Being a serious writer is 'business'.
If you worked at IBM or for Social Services, I doubt you would be sharing your email account with your spouse.

Heather Day Gilbert said...

Ha! Who would ever do anything like that? *hastily scrambling around to setup a new Gmail account*

Seriously, for me, it's the technical details that throw me. Can we simultaneously have two Gmail accounts? Or do I have to open one with a different server? Any advice would be appreciated!

Good post!

Timothy Fish said...

Yes, but IBM and Social Services are much bigger organizations. If you were to look within those organizations, it is very likely that you would find several e-mail addresses that represent specific tasks or whole departments. Typically, this is done when it isn’t as important who handles the e-mail as it is that it is handled in a timely manner. If the person who normally reads the mail from that account is on vacation, you would want their alternate to be able to handle it.

Cheryl said...

When I used to receive job applications with cutesy email names I would chuckle.

My email address is a shortened form of my name ccmal(at)charter(dot)net. I figure it's easier for people to remember than ccmalandrinos. Is that appopriate or should it be full name?

Thanks for your help.