Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Email Etiquette and the Three Email Rule - IWSG

When I was in my early twenties, a good friend moved away. We used to pen letters back and forth, then emails, but in time, with so much mundane in our lives, the correspondences dwindled and finally ceased. We reconnect from time to time, via email, but it’s not the same. For one thing, she types in all caps. Regardless of that, it’s good to hear from her. But my last email went unanswered for months. I wondered if harm had befallen her. She’s fine, but it got me to thinking about mail and email etiquette.

There was a day, in the 19th Century, it was considered quite impolite not to respond to a personal letter. Email changed all that. Or did it? Polite is still polite. Isn’t it?  Is being too busy to respond a valid reason not to respond? If you’re legitimately swamped, I think a day or two lag is acceptable between friends, but not business associates. You can set an auto response stating you’re unable to answer until such and such a time for business.

Your friends will know why you didn’t respond yesterday. They’ll know you’re email provider is dumping everything into the spam folder or the dog is missing and you’re going crazy. (They'll be searching with you if they can.) Friends will know the day job is slowly killing you. Just don’t post on your personal Facebook while you’re ignoring them or they’ll never believe the “busy” excuse again.

One of my major gripes with every publisher I’ve ever been with is the failure to respond to emails. Even worse is the Three Email Rule.

I send to ask a question.
Publisher X responds with obtuse information I didn’t ask about.
I ask for clarification.
{echo chamber goes here}

See? Three emails and you’re done. I don’t consider it to be a good practice to ignore authors. Hey publishers! See all those INDIE OPPORTUNITIES out there? That’s where the authors are going when you ignore them.

And aspiring authors - build your email bridges carefully. Don't send cartoons to business connections. Don't send photos of naked men (or women), either. Be professional and use email etiquette at all times. At least until you have a circle of email friends you can claim as your posse. There's where you relax and have fun. 

Thinking about this has me thinking about improving my own practices. Maybe I need to reiterate that if you email me after nine o’clock at night, I probably won’t answer until the next morning because that's my reading time. Of course, reading time for an author is technically work. Perhaps I need to set an auto-response saying that. It would be the polite thing to do. 

KC Kendricks
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Diane Burton said...

I think many people have forgotten politeness. Email is easy. Maybe too easy. Do we think or just shoot off a response? I started writing in 1993. Back then, waiting 2 years for a response was common. We want better now. Better, quicker responses. Best wishes.

Pat Garcia said...

I don't know why publishers don't respond to emails. but I wish they would. It is quite simple to tell a writer, I am not interested in your work so go somewhere else.
Nice post.
Shalom aleichem,