View Full Version : Online presence on queries

Cathy C
10-25-2014, 08:37 PM
A response post to a thread in the Ask the Agent room sparked a memory of a bar chat I had with an agent at a convention recently. The discussion was about online query letters the agent had received, but not about the query itself. Rather, it was about how the query appeared in the agent's inbox before the email was ever opened--meaning the email address and subject line. The agent was discussing the weird and off-putting names that authors had used to SEND the email that she had been assaulted with that made her not even want to open the email. One in particular she mentioned was juicyc*nt47@whateverisp.com. Her first thought was apparently, "There really are 46 other people who wanted that email addy?" Her second thought was, "How fast can I hit the delete key?"

I know for myself that I'm astonished by the fan mail addresses I get and why in the world the person would want to be forever known by a vulgar or belittling email addy. Another the agent mentioned was IHATEjocks@... Turned out the agent was an athlete in college.

Of course, not all agents or editors are sensitive to such things. Not all agents would delete the query unseen. Many may not even notice. But for authors just starting out, perception is all you have, and presenting a professional online appearance could be a real issue. If you don't already, I'd suggest you consider signing up for an email addy that's either your real name or the pen name you want to use as what you use to send out queries.

The other part, subject lines, deserves a separate thread in the Agent or Editor room. I'll bet there have been some doozies if the ones I heard from my friend are any indication. :roll:


Little Anonymous Me
10-25-2014, 09:16 PM
I'm with the agent.

There were 46 other people who wanted that email address??? :Jaw:

(But yes, professional emails. I am fond of firstnamelastname@address. Can't go wrong with that.)

10-25-2014, 09:30 PM
I know what you mean. I used to receive emails from job seekers and the gross email addresses on some certainly undermined the professional image the applicant was trying to project.

Another area to watch out for is your phone message. I remember calling one applicant whose recorded message was "I can't come to the phone right now" followed by Meg Ryan's orgasm scene from "When Harry Met Sally." That one made me laugh, but others featuring political rants or obscenities were a turn-off.

10-25-2014, 09:30 PM
Also weird: When wives query with their husband's email address (WHY? EMAIL ADDRESSES ARE FREE.) Or when people's emails are their "pen name" and that pen name is TERRIBLE. (I mean... are you really committed to being known professionally as Wilfred Q Whistesnotz?)

10-25-2014, 09:43 PM
Yep. We'd get this in commercial art when artists (some of whom were recent BA grads from a well-known local uni) answered our ads with the most regrettable email addresses. I get that it was college, but...sheesh. Not professional. Even before we got to the portfolios, there were strikes against the senders.

I have four email addresses. One with this username, which I've had for two decades: the catch-all for 75% of my email. One with this username and a keyword, which is only used for correspondence to/from a large display site. One with my art persona, for art business. And one with my main writing pen name, used for writing correspondence. None of them are stupid or offensive.

Marian Perera
10-25-2014, 10:14 PM
Good grief. I wouldn't even use an email addy like jellybean@whatever for professional communication, let alone something potentially offensive.

I'd love to hear what the agent said about subject lines!

Dennis E. Taylor
10-25-2014, 10:16 PM
I'm boggled that this even needed to be pointed out...

10-25-2014, 11:02 PM
Maybe she was 47 years old.

10-25-2014, 11:09 PM
Maybe she was 47 years old.

Sounds more like her IQ was 47.

10-25-2014, 11:09 PM
Why would anyone use anything but their real name?

10-26-2014, 01:14 AM
Why would anyone use anything but their real name?

Some names are pretty common, so people have to add numbers and so on. There are also some folks who are very private about their online identities, even with e-mails sent to friends and professional contacts.

I teach at a college, and you wouldn't believe some of the names my students have for their e-mails. I guess they think they're being clever or expressing their unique personalities, but when I get an e-mail from "cutebabe27@randomemailserver. com" with no subject line, I'm going to assume it's spam and deleting it.

The oddest ones, though, are when they send e-mails with real names that are clearly not theirs. Sometimes it's a woman using her husband's email, or a kid using their parent's.

Sending me an e-mail with someone else's account gives me the impression this person is very emotionally dependent, possibly even downtrodden in their relationship with their spouse or parent, as if they weren't trusted with their own e-mail.

As a teacher, I do my best not to let the e-mail bias me, and of course, most of my students are fairly young and learning how to navigate in the grown up world. But if I were an agent who gets hundreds or thousands of queries each week? Any excuse to hit delete would likely be taken.

10-26-2014, 01:23 AM
One reason for not using your real name was in the early days of spam, when it was sent to any kind of name that could be guessed. So you didn't even need to give out your email addy to get royally spammed.

Mr Flibble
10-26-2014, 01:24 AM
I do have a couple of silly (not rude!) emails -- one for joining yahoo groups and stuff where I think I'll get spam*etc, one for family stuff

My first acceptance was to an email named after a monty python character...

*Luckily that was the one hacked, rather than my "name" email sending people spam....

10-26-2014, 07:10 PM
What I'm guessing what happened here is that Juicy has several email accounts. She queried with the wrong one by mistake. Oops!

Lesson to be learnt. If you have more than one email make sure you send your query with the right one.

I have three myself. Two in my own name, google and yahoo, and another for my pen name. Is it really okay to query with a pen name email, even if you haven't had anything pub'd under it as yet? Leave it to me to sneak a question in a post. ;-)

Hapax Legomenon
10-26-2014, 07:25 PM
There's nothing wrong with having a goofy email address. I have a few. However, yeah, if you're doing business at all you should have at least one non-goofy one. And for the love of God, make sure you don't get them mixed up when sending out anything important!