PS has worked as a freelance writer since 2012. When she's not traveling and writing, she helps people with web design and development.
Just because you are not in touch with the corporate world, it doesn’t mean you are welcome to bring sloppiness to your emails.
- Emails are old, yet gold.
- They are still prevalent.
- They must display your professionalism.
- They must be sent with the intention of building relationships with your editors.
- To read or not to read your article, the editor decides it by your subject.
Disadvantages of Emails (According to Editors)
While editors are increasingly preferring emails over traditional mails, there are still some who go for traditional ones due to the following reasons:
- According to editors, people are very clumsy in preparing their emails in a structured manner.
- They seem to be in a hurry and lack consideration for presentation and style.
- Most of the emails lack proofreading.
- Most of the queries are chatty and casual, which editors rarely find engaging.
- Editors find senders to be very impatient with their queries.
- If the query arrives within seconds, it doesn’t conclude that the editors have the time to read it immediately.
- Another downturn is when people start nagging for a response within a few days or hours of sending the email.
What’s your Subject?
Your subject line speaks volume about your email. Consider it as if you are writing a blog heading. Imagine what words you will prioritize to attract an audience?
It is worth mentioning that emails with longer subject lines are boring and have fewer chances of receiving an expected result in comparison to the shorter ones.
Being a newbie, you may think about adding everything possible to make yourself noticeable in the eyes of the editor and you might go with something like,
Sending Newspaper Articles for your Weekly Column. My name is Jean Stuart and I work as a Journalist
Remember, people don’t want to read stories they need something concise and to the point like this,
“Article Ideas for Your Consideration”
This is straightforward, to the point and with no exaggeration.
Do you strictly follow the rules?
Do you have that tendency of skipping the job instructions because you can assume to know it all? Well, it doesn’t work always. I have clients getting smarter with their job description. They know freelancers are inclined to skip the details, so sometimes they put up a code work in the job description that goes like, “If you read the description, then send me a subject line with a code ‘TigerRock’”.
This actually happens. Well, at least with me, but I noticed it and got the job.
On the other hand, the subject line is very important. Sometimes when you get familiar with the clients, in this case, editors, you tend to make it little less formal, which is not good. So, mind the subject line.
Ok, done with Subject Line, now What about Email Body?
Congrats! You created a well-versed subject line and now your editor is in to read the rest of the email.
The body of the email is the place where you are supposed to elaborate on the subject line. If your focus is on article submission, then explain the editor why your writing is a good fit for the publication. Inform them about your past experiences and qualifications.
Additionally, follow these tips to get your foot in the door:
1. Simplicity is the Key
Have you ever neglected an email after opening it because it was way too long? There are high chances you did. Similarly, don’t let your email get flagged because of its unnecessary long length. Imagine you are explaining something to a kid, suppose a ten-year-old kid. Think about what words will you use to simplify the concept to a little kid. Bring that same notion when writing an email.
2. Link your Work
This is a pretty scary situation not only for you but for the editor as well. They have the responsibility of running a publication and they don’t want to go wrong with their decision of hiring a freelancer. To make sure, you win their trust, try to include your best work possible.
There is two way you can do so:
- Include a link to your work
- Add the work within your email
- Avoid using attachments
- Use hyperlinks instead of string URLs
3. Query that Fits
It is a good practice to clear all your documents before proceeding with the final piece. Most of the people prefer to go with a query letter, before actually sending their article. You should know how to fit your query with the specific job requirements.
Make sure your email doesn’t look more like a generic template that you copy and paste to all the clients.
4. Add a Personal Touch
If after a few email exchanges, your editor becomes a little casual with you and start using Hi, then you too can follow the suit. If they mention they are planning to go to the Bahamas for a week-long holiday, it’s a nice gesture to wish them a safe and wonderful trip. Such small touches make the editor feel that you wish to build a rapport.
But be careful, it’s a professional world, you don’t want to become way too friendly with your boss. Avoid using lots of slangs, emotions and exclamation marks. Start and end your emails professionally. You must something like, “Kind Regards” or “Yours sincerely” at the end of your every email.
5. Don’t Bombard them with Long Queries
It is normal to have multiple issues at the same time, but planning to send them all in one email to get the answer at once is not the right way. Editors are busy people they may feel overwhelmed with so many long-formed queries at once.
- Stick to one query an email.
- When the editor replies, ask them about something else. Build it into a healthy conversation.
- If there is an urgency and you need to meet the deadline, try to use short sentences for each of your queries and put them in a listed form.
6. Make Sure You Receive the Desired Response
You write emails for various purposes such as asking a question, looking for a specific reply or providing the details of your completed work. No matter, you do demand for a response in lieu of your email. For this,
Make it clear what type of response you are hoping for.
Don’t expect for a response if your email is about article uploading or successful closure of a project.
Use a call to action like, “If you could please reach back to me so that we can take the discussion further.” This is clear and professional as well.
7. Offer New Ideas
So when your article is finally accepted and is ready to go on publication mode. You must send a thank you email to your editor. Mention that you have some more article ideas. This makes your image as a passionate and hard-working writer in the editor’s mind. You can send your new ideas immediately or it is indeed better to wait for a few days. In any case, your ideas are not accepted, the editor will remember you for any future help.
8. Keep the Body Length Short
Many editors prefer to receive short stories by email. This is somewhat due to display issue, as they’d have to scroll less. Thus, many writers are going for a brief that contains 1 to 3 paragraphs. It starts directly with the pitch, then a description and finally writer’s credentials.
Here is an example of how to make the long story short.
PS: The font in the below image is used only to distinguish it from the rest of the content. You must go with the standard.
So, while crafting an email query, think about how to shorten the information into a compact summary that an editor can view at one glance. Make sure your summary covers all the important points you intend to put forward.
9. The Address Block
Unlike traditional queries, you need to put your address details along with name and phone number(s) at the end of the email.
1. Have a Prompt Answer
Don’t make your editor wait. Your quick reply will make them believe your eagerness to write for the specific publication. It establishes the reliability and shows your enthusiasm to work for a particular company.
2. Accept Criticism
No one likes to be told that their work needs to be revised or is not good enough. Get habitual of it, even the most successful freelancers come across such situations. This is just one side of a story, what you reply about such email speaks a lot about your personality. It can make or break your future chances of working with the publication. Reply politely, informing your editor that you will make the revisions before sending them the modified article on the requested date.
You also have the option to query the asked revisions if you feel they lack sense and requires more clarification. But, make sure you are not overwhelmed with your personal feelings while sending your reply. It is indeed an opportunity for you to show your intelligence in handling criticism. These are rare and great skills that can make editors pleased to work with you.
3. Do a Spellcheck
Having even a small error in your article puts a negative impact on the editor’s mind. It shows your carelessness, making you unfit for any future work. Make sure all your emails are spellchecked, even if you are an expert.
4. Get their Name Right
Doing a mistake in the recipient’s name is a huge turn-down. No one likes their name being misspelled nor would you. In case the person’s name is not gender-specific such as Alex, avoid using Mr or Miss. Instead, make use of, “Dear Alex Johnson”.
Some Tips to Keep in Mind while using MS Word for Writing Your Query
- Turn off the special-character commands: In MS Word, you can prevent your sentences from auto-correction by going to the “AutoCorrect” menu under the section “Tools.” Under the menus, “Autoformat as you type” and “Autoformat”, make sure to uncheck everything that is shown under “Replace as you type.” Under the “Autocorrect” submenu, find the list of automatic corrections and delete the one that is intended to replace an ellipse by a special character.
- Replace special-character commands: If you have an already prepared document for submission that you worked upon before turning off these special-character commands, you’d have to use search-and-replace option to correct the problems. For example, if you want to replace ellipses, the use [option ;] in the search box (or “find” box as you may call it), and replace it with […].
- Consistent Double-space between paragraphs: We generally leave a little space before the sentence to indicate the beginning of a new paragraph, but it doesn’t work in emails. It simply changes the paragraph into a solid block of text. To make sure your division is clearly visible, do a manual double space between the paragraph. If you don’t like that, then you can also do run a “search-and-replace” on the paragraph character. Then, click on more in the “search-and-replace” menu. You will see the paragraph command as the first option under “Special”. Click it once for “search” and twice for “replace”.
E-mail Apps that You Should Know About
Crystal is a Gmail extension that helps professionals with effective communication techniques. It offers you personality profiles of your correspondence emails including tonal suggestions such as what sort of words and styles you must use with a particular correspondent. It also provides real-time feedback, giving you a thoughtful insight into your communication style.
2. Charlie App
Charlie is useful for building a fast rapport. It shows aggregate links, shared interests with your recipients and also, a small biography of your client.
3. Hemingway Editor
It is a free tool that focuses on correctness and readability. It works somewhat like gram marly, except that it also helps you to get rid of difficult words and phrases.
4. Just Not Sorry
It is a Google Chrome extension that strengthens your wiring by eliminating weak phrases such as “I hope” or “I am sorry”. It highlights weak words in your email, also giving you an alternate suggestion to make use of.
I would like to conclude this article with some revision and miscellaneous tips that you should read till the end so your editor will be happier with your submission:
- Use a large readable font. It needs to be at least 12 pt.
- Mind your Subject Line. You can start it with “QUERY: [title]” or “ARTICLE SUBMISSION: [title]”.
- Use short queries to minimize the need for scrolling your email.
- Don’t go with HTML formatting. Not every editor has this feature enabled in their mailbox.
- Avoid using font colors. Use only black.
- Avoid emoticons
- Avoid adding attachments. Editors may doubt it as virus and your work will go in vain. Use it only when they have explicitly stated on their publication’s guidelines.
- Don’t nag your editor about your submission instantly after submitting your active. Wait for a week at least.
- Avoid using words like stunning, dramatic, life-changing, revolutionary, best or mind-blowing. also, never make a sentence with ALL CAPITAL LETTERS.