I’ve been known to do stupid things with email.
Shocking, isn’t it?
My offenses have ranged from typos to a smart-ass rant about the boss sent to a coworker (and subsequently viewed by the boss, who happened to be standing behind my coworker when she opened it).
My most recent faux pas occurred last week, and fortunately, wasn’t too embarrassing. Well, not unless you consider it embarrassing to extend a dinner invitation to a gentleman you’ve never met living 2,500 miles away with a salutation that begins, “Hey, bitches – you owe me wine.”
That one was more amusing than mortifying, but when you’re querying agents or crafting other professional correspondence, it’s important to avoid looking like a dork.
Here are a couple tips I can share:
Don’t fill in the “to” field until you’re certain it’s perfect. I do this with important messages to avoid the embarrassment of accidentally hitting “send” before spellchecking, proofreading, or removing the note-to-self that reads add something smart here.
Ditch the emoticons and exclamations. Lord knows I love a good smiley from time to time, but when your email message looks like a minefield of exploding happy faces, you’ve gone too far. Ditto that for exclamation points or goofy abbreviations like LOL or BTW or WTSAGP (duh, that’s Want to Split a Grape Popsicle?)
Watch the formatting. Back when I was querying agents, it seemed like a good time-saver to copy/paste a query I’d sent to one agent and use that as a starting block to personalize a query for another. Um, no. I couldn’t see it on my end, but that’s a good way to introduce all sorts of weird formatting. I discovered this when I looked in my “sent” folder and realized it looked as though I’d tried to demonstrate my creativity by inserting random paragraph returns in the middle of words.
Sleep on it. I know what it’s like to reach a point that you just want to SEND THE @#$% MESSAGE ALREADY. But when you’ve been staring at the words all day, you’re less apt to notice that you’ve misspelled an agent’s name or extolled the virtues of your extensive background in “pubic relations.” Come back later when you have fresh eyes.
Obviously this isn’t a comprehensive list, but these are a few ways I’ve found to minimize the number of times I look like a goober in a given week.
How about you? Got any embarrassing email mistakes you can share, or tips to help the rest of us avoid those mistakes? Please post in the comments!
I need all the help I can get.