A What Not To Do Wednesday on Email Addresses

spamFinally.

A What Not To Do that doesn’t star the writing foibles and/or missteps of yours truly. But still, I feel qualified to expound on this topic of email addresses as I’ve very recently found myself sending and/or receiving a ton of emails.

I’m the PAL Coordinator for the Southern Breeze region of SCBWI, which sounds very la-ti-da, but really, it just means that I handle a couple of fun events or projects that benefit our published and listed members. And so I’m always emailing people, and they’re always emailing me back. It’s a hot mess of emails to keep up with, let me tell you. And amidst the most recent flurry of emails, I thought about editors and publishers and other industry professionals.

Specifically, I thought about how important it is to have a professional email address.

Your email address is the first impression you make. When you’re sending out queries or manuscripts or other professional communiques in the business world, that dot com address succinctly says everything about you. So let’s think a little about what an email address says:

Take, for example, yourname@email.com. It’s simple, direct, professional. And when someone is looking for your email in order to respond, they find your name. Quickly. You don’t have to have your own domain, either. If your name’s in an email address, it’s golden.

Now let’s consider the cutesy writer names. Like therightwriterforyou@email.com. If a person has worked really hard to brand themselves as The Right Writer–and there’s immense name recognition–then that kind of address would work. But if you are just starting out, clever is not always as clever as one thinks. Be careful using a “brand” name.

Next, let’s take a look at what I call “email addresses that make no sense.” That’s when some iteration of a person’s name pops up in an inbox. Maybe the initials of everyone in the family, the year they bought the house, and the word LOVE…so something like JLJCD1997love@email.com. The receiver of that kind of email rarely has a way to make a connection, and thus likely ends up annoyed. (Or maybe that’s just me. But I don’t think so. I’m pretty sure everyone’s annoyed.)

Finally, there are the inappropriate email addresses. The ones that should only be used for family and close, close friends. Because honestly, if I don’t know you, and spawnofsatan@email.com pops up in my inbox, I am not amused. In fact, I’m a little scared. (Okay, I’m very scared. Go away.)

So, grasshopper, before you send out another email, take a moment and consider your address. Sure, you want folks to know your name. But make sure it’s in a good way.

What TO Do Wednesday: The Rant About Writing For Free

ImageGenerally, I’m a live and let live kind of writer, grasshopper. What works for me may not necessarily work for you, and vice versa. So do what works for you and we’ll all join hands and sing “Kumbaya.”

But once in a while, I feel the need to take a stand on a specific writing topic (and drag you along with me). And today, that topic is “writing for free.”

I am NOT talking about providing a piece of writing for a fundraising project. This kind of free writing comes from the heart, and how can you go wrong when a kindness is given in the name of charity?

I’m also not talking about writing that’s connected to marketing. Say, a post for a blog wherein you hope to sell books or drive a little traffic to your blog. You can’t expect people to pay you for your own promotion, grasshopper.

But whenever I see magazines or anthologies or ezines or newsletters–publications that will make money from your writing–with this statement: “We do not pay for submissions, but the writer will own all rights to his work”…OH MY WORD.

This is the point where I yell, “What difference will it make if I own all rights??? Once it’s published, it’s almost impossible to sell!”

Occasionally, very occasionally, I will run across a publication that will accept reprints. But most publications demand unpublished stories, poems, essays, or articles.

I understand their specifications. Editors want something fresh, something sparkly for their readers. Who wants to pay for something that’s been around the block a few times (so to speak)?

Okay, then. That’s about it. Let’s get back to working and singing.

Except…maybe this one time. This one time I’ll ask you. Do what works for us all. Walk on by those non-payment publications, and the (writing) world will be a better (paying) place.

A Wednesday’s What NOT To Do, Courtesy of Chuck (And Wheee! Romance!)

ImageApparently, I am not the only writer who employs the “What Not To Do” construct. Apparently, Chuck Sambuchino thought it was a fine idea as well. He used it over at Writer Unboxed (where he’s one of the monthly contributors) to present his article, What NOT To Do When Beginning Your Novel: Advice From Literary Agents.

Okay, fine. I suppose great  minds think alike and all that. And it’s a fine article, too, that also proves that many agents think alike when it comes to novel beginnings. Certain openings come up again and again–and that, my writer friends, is not a good thing. You want an agent to read page one and find something different and engaging. So if your novel opens with an agent’s pet peeve, I’d strongly recommend that you revise.

Of course, there are exceptions. And maybe you’ve written the exceptional trite beginning that works. Submit at your own risk, friends.

Which brings me to my next topic. When I read Lovely Lisa’s post today about romance, it reminded me that I’d come across a romance opportunity that might appeal to my readers/writers who haven’t written novels but who have (or could whip out) a romantic short story.

Crimson Romance (an imprint from F & W Media) is looking for stories in the 5,000 to 10,000 word range on holiday themes and sports themes. I know a couple writers who were published in the romance anthology, Fifty Shades of Santa. But for those of you whose stories weren’t accepted, here’s a great opportunity to try again for publication.

Or maybe you want to try your hand at romance-writing for the very first time. A short story is a good place to start. Just don’t start with one of those bad beginnings that agents don’t like.

I mean, it’s not called Wednesday’s What NOT To Do for nothing.

What Not To Do Wednesday: Let Writing Books Lie

ImageSo, January, 2012. I made a resolution to read my books on writing instead of letting them sit there on the shelf, collecting dust, giving me that look.

Not that “come hither” look, either. More of that “you know if you’d read me, you’d be a better writer, but okay. You know better than me, the expert and successful writer. So just keep typing away and ignoring me” look.

But did I read them? No, I did not.

Now it’s 2013–and I’m an older and wiser writer, grasshopper. Because (and here’s a novel idea) I’ve started reading my books. And occasionally, I’ll order a book or two. Especially if a. a book is recommended (like Save the Cat. Read it and learn, grasshopper) or b. I can get it cheap (like when the Writer’s Digest Shop runs a sale event).

So I’m reading The Writer’s Little Helper by James V. Smith (He wrote the Delta Force best-sellers). Now, honestly, I’m not a big fan of those kinds of thrillers. But what James V. Smith says, in a simple and engaging style, can be applied to whatever genre you write–and make you a better and more successful writer.

And I’m a big fan of that.

So, don’t be a foolish little grasshopper like me and let your writing books lie unopened. Read them! And make 2013 the year of writing success!

What Not To Do Wednesday on Business Cards

Every time I think I’m doing something swell (writerly speaking), I forget about the ripples. You know what I mean about the ripples? Like when you drop a pebble in the water and the ripples expand outward, affecting the waters further and further away?

So I’ve been researching agents and editors for the Rutgers conference (and I have found SO many wonderful sites/blogs packed with great info! I’ll share those soon!) and I came across a blog post from a writer who’d attended in the past and she mentioned business cards. And I thought,  thank goodness, I have plenty of business cards. Because I have THREE different–no, FOUR different business cards.

And then one of those ripples banged into me. Self, I said, you better check your business cards since you’ve made some changes lately. And uh-oh. Most of the cards had the Hall of Fame blog on it.  A few had my old website. Which means I’ve been blithely handing out business cards for the past…let’s see, 9 months, with outdated information.

Oy. I suppose I don’t need to tell you that I was pretty annoyed with myself, grasshopper. I should make a checklist of “What To Do When Changing Your Web Presence” rather than what I do do, which is changing one thing, then catching up with the ripples as they inevitably bang into me. Don’t do that, grasshopper. Make your checklist, and put “Check/change business cards” on the top of the list. Then you can do a happy dance (like me!) when the NEW BUSINESS CARDS arrive from Vistaprint! And P.S. I also ordered a sheet of sticky business card labels that I could slap on a manuscript, which I thought was scathingly brilliant, not to mention ripple-evading.

(If I’m being perfectly honest, I love designing business cards. But you probably had an inkling of that when you read about the four business cards, piled in my desk drawer.)