Email Etiquette and Editors

The Internet is both a blessing and curse. If you’ve spent any amount of time “surfing the net,” you understand the inherent complications when it comes to looking for something (there’s so much to choose from it is overwhelming,) and the rules of communication we’re accustomed to are slightly skewed. Email, blogs, and websites have given writers the opportunity to connect with other writers and readers worldwide. But having a conversation online isn’t the same as having a face-to-face dialogue.


What are the accepted terms of Internet discussions, and what is the best advice for staying in touch when the Internet confines and defines a relationship? Some people think “www” stands for “wild, wild, west” and anything goes. However, when it comes to dealing with your editor at a publishing institution, there are some particular guidelines that will help everyone involved stay engaged, in the know, and stressed less. Of course, every online relationship eventually creates its own particular set of acceptable terms for behavior, but these ideas are a safe place to begin. The key word is RESPECT.


REVIEW-before you hit submit, read over what you’ve written and be sure it’s as correct as you want it to be.


EDIT-to edit is to improve. As you review your email, blog, or web content, make sure you don’t sound like a pirate the morning after pillage.


SORRY- when someone writes, “I’m sorry this email is so long,” I think, “Why didn’t you read over what you wrote and delete what made it so long?” Don’t be sorry, be sure what you’ve written is meaningful.


PROFESSIONAL-this is also known as being “politically correct.” Professionals don’t use many adverbs or adjectives in correspondence. Stick to the facts necessary to the correspondence. Avoid words like “really”, “terribly”, and “awfully” because they indicate emotions. This is a business relationship. Keep communications professionally correct by keeping the emotions to yourself.


EXPECTATIONS-anticipation was a great idea for the song by Carly Simon, but it is always a breeding ground for stress.


COURTEOUS-it’s a welcome and advisable habit to be considerate and courteous of whomever the email or blog is directed. Standard salutations such as “Hi” and “Greetings” are a friendly way to begin an email and tell the receiver what kind of mood the email contains. In general, be kind. Always include a greeting and a closing no matter how brief or simple.


TIMELY-Beth Walker, publisher for Secret Cravings Publishing has this to say about the timeliness of staying in touch with your editor:

“My thought on the matter is if you haven’t received a response from an email you’ve sent whether it be to the author, Ariana, me or another editor, in a couple of days, I’d say email again and tell them to please response with at least an ‘I got it.’ I try to respond to every email I receive with that.


If it gets to the point you’ve emailed a couple of times and received no response at all, then email Ariana or me. I know there have been a few authors that do not respond to the editors at all and will only respond to my emails. I also know there have been one or two that don’t respond at all, even to me and we’re dealing with them as best we can.


To me, it’s rude to not acknowledge the receipt of an email. Unfortunately, we can’t make them email you back. I’ve sent reminders and all I can ask of you all is to put a note in your email to please send you an email saying you got it. I know for our email being yahoo, they tend to lose emails and I say that in my email.”

Lastly, give the person on the receiving end of the missive a minimum of 24 hours to respond. If you don’t get at least a “got it” within that time period, send a quick and friendly check in to see if the message was actually received. And always make a correspondence plan in writing with your editor. Ask up front, “How long should I wait before I check with you about the status of the manuscript?” Most editors have a turnaround time in mind for projects and will give you an idea of what’s acceptable as far as contacting them. Remember they are almost always working on several manuscripts at a time.


Do you have any online correspondence advice to share?


JB George



About Joy Held's Writer Wellness Blog

Writer, yogini, mom, wife, and teacher. I teach English composition and hatha yoga in a small private college in Ohio. I'm also working on my MFA in Writing Popular Fiction at Seton Hill University in Greensburg, PA.

Posted on October 6, 2011, in Editorial Etiquette and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Well said. Succinct.

  2. All great advice and things to keep in mind when we correspond with people on-line. Thanks!

  3. Good info JB. I try everything you advised at all times. You just never know how the wrong word or punctuation in the correspondence will come across. Another good check if you’re upset is write the email, put in draft folder for at least a few hours before sending. Like counting to ten in person. 🙂

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