Sunday, October 11, 2009

Magic Words

Manners matter. I’m reminded of a Barney® song that instructs, “Please and thank you, they’re the magic words.” Although we learn these things as children, sometimes we forget to practice them as adults.

Email and social media have led us to a certain sense of comfort with strangers. I, for one, have developed several friendships on Twitter and Facebook, and even by email, with people I have never seen face-to-face, and may never meet. While it’s ok to chat with them in those forums in abbreviated text lingo, it is not ok to address agents and editors in like manner in query letters.

Remember that your correspondence with prospective publishers is a business transaction. You wouldn’t send a resume to Microsoft (or a bank, or an engineering firm, or a church office, or wherever) written in IM speak, would you? Don’t be so informal with submissions either. After all, you’re hoping to get a job with your query, right?

DO address the recipient by name (preferably preceded by Mr. or Mrs.). Present a professional request, and be sure to offer gratitude for his or her consideration. Use a standard font and plain white paper. Winking smileys are alright online, but you won’t receive one back if you include it here. Instead, it will transform into a frown as it lands upside down in the agent’s garbage bin. And always, always, always sign your complete name and make sure your contact information is correct. If the agent/editor wants to see more, you want to be sure they can reach you!

Please remember to be professional. Thank you for your time. I look forward to hearing from you!


Dawn Herring said...

This post was well put, Jodi. It is amazing the friendships that can be built with folks we've never met through social networking sights.
Professionalism is essential in order to be taken seriously.
I appreciate your pov on this.

Dawn Herring
JournalWriter Freelance
Be Refreshed!

Jodi Whisenhunt said...

Thank you, Dawn!

K.M. Weiland said...

Good reminders. It's true that the line between business and pleasure is often blurred on social media sites. Finding a balance between professionalism and friendliness is important.

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