The Author Networking Series, Part 2: Email Etiquette


While today’s interconnected world makes it simpler than ever to connect with people, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s easier. And though it takes much less time and energy to send a text or an email than it did to cold call a potential contact, there are plenty of people who go about connecting with people very poorly. Maybe it’s a generational thing or a time management thing, but many authors seems to have a blind spot when it comes to email etiquette.

It may feel like this second installment in the author networking series is more like a trip to charm school than it is about marketing, but we’ve all broken some of these cardinal rules on more than one occasion. When you’re making your first contact with someone, it’s important to take extra care to ensure you come off as professional as possible. Here are five ways you can ensure your emails are as high-quality as can be:

1. Treat Emails Like a Letter

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Do you remember letters? Letters were so nice and formal, and they said “dear” and “sincerely,” and while they might’ve been several pages long they had no errors because their senders would painstakingly check their correspondences before sending. Even though the U.S. Postal Service is on the decline, you should remember your letter-writing techniques when you type up your first email to an influencer.

An email isn’t a text message. It should have a formal feel to it, even if your tone is anything but. You should take the time you need to make sure the email says and does exactly what you want before you click the “send” button. Failure to do so could result in you having to send multiple messages as you botch your efforts to come off like someone who’s put together.

2. Make It Error-Free

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Applying the letter-writing mindset means you should check everything in your email for errors before you send the message. You need to make sure your links go where they’re supposed to go. Your grammar and spelling should be impeccable, and reading your email out loud before shooting it out there is always a smart idea. The email should have a logical flow from beginning to end and it should clearly state what service you want to provide and the benefits the influencer will receive.

If you fail to weed out 99 percent of the errors, then it’s unlikely the person is going to respond or take you seriously. You may not be equals in the size of your audiences or your publishing celebrity status, but you can at least show off how professional your emails are. The alternative is making a bad first impression, which is the last thing you want.

3. Keep Messages Short, Sweet, and Simple

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You may be tempted to include everything you could possibly write in your first email. You want to go into depth about your personal story and share each way the influencer has helped you in your career. By the time you get to the fifth or sixth paragraph, you finally decide to include the all-important pitch. Us writers can be pretty verbose, but you need to hold back those tendencies in your first email.

When your message looks like a giant block of text, the author’s first thought will be that he doesn’t have enough time to read all of this, especially when he gets dozens of messages every day. Your email should include the bare essentials alone. Say who you are, what you can provide, and what the benefits will be. That should be it. A short, sweet, and simple email has a much better chance of being read than what seems like a novel that you accidentally copy-pasted and sent.

4. Use BCC For Mass Emails

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Let’s say you’ve made contact with several authors and everybody has agreed to work together. This is the only instance in which you should send a single message out to several people at the same time. Otherwise, you’ll be in violation of the CAN-SPAM Act. When you do send out a mass message, you should always use the Blind Carbon Copy (BCC) feature.

We’ve all received that email in which someone has mass messaged a thousand people. If you do the same to an author you’re trying to make contact with, it’s just bad form. The author may think to herself, “Great, now all these other people can put me on their spam lists.” That’s not the kind of impression you want to make. Always use the BCC feature when you’re emailing multiple people at once.

5. Respond Promptly

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The waiting game is hard. You may have to sit on your hands for days while you check your inbox for a reply to your message. This doesn’t mean that the author doesn’t care or has actively ignored your message. It may just mean that it’ll take some time before he can get back to you. When you finally get that all-important response, it’s common courtesy to send them a reply as soon as you can.

It doesn’t matter if it’s taken days or weeks for the person to respond to you. You’re more likely to catch them when they’re online if you reply as soon as you can, and you’ll be able to speed up the process if the two of you plan on working together.

You’re An Author, So Write An Email Like One

You wouldn’t send out your book without a thorough proofread and without making sure that it says what you want it to say. Make sure your emails get the same attention before they exit your inbox. So many people send bad emails. To rise to the top of the heap, make sure your correspondences are award-winning by comparison.