How many email addresses do you have?

When you're talking to an agent: ONE is the correct number.

Here's why: We get a lot of email. I don't take e-queries and I get 175 emails a day right now (not counting the email from this blog which is in a different mail server program). I use a mail program that allows me to color code things: red for current clients; blue for editors; pink for poodles; green for (CLUE) prospective clients. If I'm reading a partial or a full from you, you're not choppped liver, you're GREEN. The drawback is, I use the email address you put on your query letter and if you reply to me with a different address, you're back in the basic black slush. Even if you leave my subject line intact I might miss it, and I'll for sure be slower in responding.

This is not good. No no.

Pick one email address. You might consider having a separate mail program just for your book biz, and having a default address to send things.

This particularly applies if you have mail on your website.

This isn't some sort of "automatic no" if you don't do it. It just makes life easier. And it means I can get back to you with the kind of speed we BOTH want.


RyanBruner said...

I don't know...this seems like an unrealistic expectation of sorts. I understand why you do it, but still e-mail addresses are not always so easily handled. For example, on my website, I have an e-mail address. However, I have absolutely NO WAY of sending mail FROM that account. Instead, e-mail that goes to that address is routed to my ACTUAL e-mail account. When I reply, it comes from my actual e-mail account. The advantage to this is that if I need to change my actual account, the e-mail address that people use to send me e-mail doesn't change.

I also know plenty of folks who have their e-mail addresses for a while, and they have to change it for various legitimate reasons.

I even had a problem where I submitted requested material via my e-mail account, but it was blocked by the agent's e-mail provider...so, I had to follow up with a completely different e-mail account.

Tracking people by their e-mail is a less-than-ideal solution. Unfortunately, I can't offer much in the way of an alternative. *Sigh*

jack said...

Indeed, that's good advice all the time. I don't think anyone, whether friend or business, likes to wonder which address to reply to, or wonder "Who sent that chatty email? I don't know the address." Particularly when you want to make things easy for someone.

The exception is to have different emails for different purposes, which makes sense.

(I agree with Ryanbruner that it isn't always possible though. Occasional deviations are inevitable.

OTOH, I don't know that a sending and receiving account should make this necessary. I have a public email address (cantab.net) which is all anyone else needs to know. It doesn't have a back-end, it just forwards to the account I actually use to read and send email, which has changed a couple of times, (currently gmail.com).

My sent emails have:

From: ...@cantab.net
Reply-To: ...@cantab.net
Sender: ...@gmail.com

And I thought most email clients displayed the 'from' address, meaning no-one else has to worry about which back end account my email address forwards to.)

Anonymous said...

This is a great tip, and not just for correspondence with agents. Thanks. Now that I think about it, it should have been a big ol' doh...

..but of course, it wasn't. So pages for HH COM went out under a different email than the hook.

Another e-mail tip...anyone having an automatic signature tag, get in the habit of remembering you have one, so that you can uncheck it if it's not appropriate for that e-mail...say, for instance, a crapometer submission. *smacks nitwit self* Aside from annoying self-promotion, the default signature slapped on there throws the word count over limit. It could get thrown out without a read. Thankfully, standing on technicality is exceedingly difficult while wearing stilettos....

Simon Haynes said...

Anyone who has their own domain has unlimited email addresses (I know, because spammers keep inventing new ones for me and then helpfully send me a bunch of crap to prove they work.)

However, all my outbound mail goes out with the same return address, and that address is recognised by my incoming spam filters as a fairly safe bet. I don't publish that email anywhere, and I use it so that a reply to one of my emails comes back with the least number of diversions, redirects and filters.

Problem is, some ISPs (particularly in the US) treat ALL mail sent from south of the equator as spam-spam-spam. When that happens - and only if I find out about it - I use gmail to resend that message.

So, there are many reasons why someone might use a bunch of email addresses. I can see why it'd be useful to classify them all, but it'll never be a perfect system. Filtering on a keyword in the subject line would be better - e.g. tell them to always include 'CLIENT666' somewhere in the subject, and tell your mail prog to put CLIENT666 messages in the CLIENTS folder.

Ryan Field said...

Sounds to me like something is a bit off here and maybe the snarklings can help me.

If an agent only takes snail mail queries in the first phase of the process, why would the agent even need an e-mail address in a query letter? Wouldn't the SASE be sufficient for a reply one way or the other?

blogless_troll said...

Probably the only alternative is forego submissions altogether.

Joanne said...

Oh, Miss Snark... a woman after my own heart. By day, when not calling in sick so I can read your blog, I'm an Executive Assistant. I'm in charge of several people's calendars and regularly get 200 e-mails a day so organization is not just a passion of mine (which it is) but a necessity.
When I read this post it made me swoon, knowing that my kindred spirit is out there.
Don't even get me started on all the amazing things I can do with a mail merge...

Anonymous said...

r.b. my sense of things is that slush piles are often snail mail; but the clients are email. They need the rapid exchange, whereas the slush pile inhabitants can float there a while.

jamiehall said...

Hmmm. And, not too long ago, I read on an agent blog somewhere (can't seem to figure out where now) that you'd better have more than one email address listed on your query. The reason being that if one doesn't work for some reason, the other is still available and the agent won't be forced to send the reply by snail-mail or call you. Maybe it's individual taste.

Michele said...

After my reply from KY with the hook # got tossed in the spam pile by yahoo, I realized that I needed to set up a second address for queries that won't get spam-filtered.