Pub Rants

What’s In A Name?

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When I attend writers’ conferences, I always want to drive home the message that publishing is first and foremost a business.

When you write a novel, that’s art.

Selling it and promoting it is sheer business.

So, I always tell writers that the devil really is in the details and if you position yourself as being savvy and professional (coupled with good writing), you will probably succeed.

Little things matter. Little things like let’s say your email address.

I imagine a lot of writers have not thought twice about it but does your email addy reflect a professional writing image?

I’m thinking might be sending the wrong message.

Cute nicknames. Great for friends. Maybe not quite the image you want for your professional writing career.

Stick with the traditional basics:

Obviously there are other combos that work. You get the idea.

And one other suggestion. If you are pursuing a writing career and are using email to acquire representation, go ahead and spring for your own email address. I’ve never quite understood when I’ve received an email query that’s signed “Jane Doe” but the email address says JoeSmith@.

Your email addy and your signature should match. It shows me that you take this business seriously.

Ah, those devilish details.

14 Responses

  1. doc-t said:

    okay… first of all that here kitty email address. It doesn’t work…

    I’ve been trying it all morning and nothing! imagine my dissappointment.

    Thanks for the advice. I guess i should stop using my ‘exotic’ nick names:

    I never imagined those would make such a bad impression. That woudl explain the continuous rejection of my query letter. I keep emailing it, faxing it, I’ve even called it in a few times and left it on the machine….

    and there was that time I WOULD have put it directily in the agents hand… cept for that restraining order. but i’m still fighting that…

    on a serious note. thank you for that piece of advice. it never dawned on me.

  2. Debby G. said:

    I’ve heard that too. I have a silly e-mail address (it has “nerd” in it) and have sold four novels in the last few years. I believe my agent is happy she didn’t let my e-mail address stand in the way of a relationship.

    I think it’s smart to look at the quality of writing and the marketability of the work instead of the letters in the e-mail address.

    Thank you for blogging! I enjoy your blog and have heard great things about you. I just think you’re wrong about this.

  3. TomG said:

    I could go either way on this. For semi-serious fiction writers who are trying to establish themselves, or maintain themselves, as a professional, a cute e-mail name doesn’t look good. No more so than any professional using unprofessional e-mail addresses.

    I could see someone such as the late Douglas Adams, however, using just about any e-mail name he would have wanted – in fact, a serious name would seem to be counter to an outer limits humourist and master of farse of his calibre.

    As for myself, I am too much a chameleon to select a single moniker – I would hate, and be embarrassed by, an address today that I thought quite good last week and probably would again in a fortnight. Same reason I wouldn’t have a tatoo.

  4. JaysPlays said:

    Many thanks for the blog! It gives me a new perspective, even if I’m only an aspiring playwright.

    I guess to too many of us, the writing comes easily (or so we think) but the selling of our wares is the real challenge.

    Keep the posts coming and I’ll keep taking notes!

  5. Nadja said:

    Good advice.

    I received an e-mail last week from NYTrainee14. I hesitated opening the mail, but since the title of my novel was in the subject line, I eventually relented and opened what turned out to be a rejection letter (awkwardly worded and without signature).

    I felt sorry for NYTrainee14. And the thirteen trainees before her/him. Poor unpaid intern doesn’t even warrant a personalized e-mail account…


  6. Diana Peterfreund said:

    Debby, I think that agents do look at the quality of writing rather than the email address. But unprofessional email addresses still look unprofessional. “I went to my job interview in a pair of staied sweatpants and a ratty t-shirt. Good thing my employer paid attention to my experience rather than what I was wearing.” Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.

    Email addresses are free. I know plenty of HR professionals who advise job seeker of the same thing. Put your best foot forward and all that.

  7. kitty said:

    This reminds me of those godawful annoying answering machine messages where the parents allow their little 3-yr-old to make the recording. I hang up when I get one of those. It’s one thing when parents make the kid the center of their life; it’s totally unprofessional and downright obnoxious to expect everyone else to follow suit.

  8. Fourteen Year Old Writer said:

    I have a personal email address from when I was 11, during the period of my life where I thought spelling cool with a K was the neatest thing. When I started querying, I didn’t want to look like a fool, so I got a professional gmail account.

    Glad to hear that I did the right thing.