5 Ways to Make an Editor Delete Your Email
Photo by Zach Klein.
I’m not a huge magazine editor. In fact, I typically imagine myself on the other side of the fence – where I’m frantically trying to say something and be employable at the same time. However, from working as the editor of NETTUTS.com, I’ve learned a few things. I’ve realized that, out of the dozens of inquiries I receive in a given week, 80% of them are deleted (usually after a standard form rejection response). It all comes back to Pareto’s 80/20 principle, doesn’t it? In this article, I’ll list the top five mistakes you can make when “selling yourself” to an editor like me.
Number 1: Don’t Make Me Work
It sounds a bit harsh and lazy, but it’s the truth. If you are trying to sell yourself to me, I shouldn’t have to respond to your email with something along the lines of, “Do you have any samples of your work?”. It should have been in your first email, silly!
If I have to respond to you asking for more information, you’re doing something wrong.
Number 2: Don’t Send Me A Form Email
This is just insulting, though I completely understand where you might be coming from. It’s not fun to spend time working on a letter to an editor only to be ignored. Nevertheless, your inquiry must be tailored to me. Think of it this way: Why would I hire you when you won’t even take the time to write a personalized message? Such things reek of laziness and apathy. If you have the gall to approach an editor with a form letter, he’ll have the courtesy of responding to you with an equally insulting form rejection letter.
Number 3: More Than One Sentence, Please
Even worse than a recyclable form letter is the infamous “One Sentence Email”. Here is an example of emails that I receive on a daily basis over at NETTUTS.
“I’d like to write for you guys. Email me if that sounds cool.”
Let’s analyze this pathetic excuse for an inquiry.
- One sentence. Really?
- I’d surmise that a 15 year old wrote this.
- He’s making me work to hire him?
- Too informal for my taste.
- Who is this guy? 20 years experience or zero? Who knows.
Number 4: Too Much Information
On the flip side, don’t send an editor a novel. We simply don’t have time, or the desire, to read your life story. Keep it simple, stupid! As the editor for NETTUTS, I receive nearly two dozen submissions per week. Relatively speaking, that’s very little. However, it keeps me busy. Now, imagine a magazine that receives hundreds of submissions in that time frame! Keep your inquiries simple and to the point.
Number 5: Check Your Spelling
Personally, this one is a huge pet peeve of mine. Do yourself a favor and spend ten seconds pressing the “Spell Check” button. Nothing screams, “I’m lazy” more than a person who refuses to take the time to read over his letter. It’s one thing to write casually to a friend. It’s quite another to do the same to a potential employer. This is just a given, right? Maybe not.
What You Should Include in Your Email
- Introduce yourself. Don’t send me a novel, but at least give me a few sentences detailing who you are.
- What experience do you have?
This is important to me. Keep in mind that it’s perfectly okay if you have zero experience. But, let me know that. We’re always looking for the next new “guy”. Consequently, let me know where you’ve worked in the past. Have you been published? These are things that I shouldn’t have to ask you. Tell me up front. If you’re fresh out of school, use it to your advantage. Tell me that you’re willing to work harder than any other. Tell me that you WANT IT more than any other. Find a way to get an editor’s attention by using weaknesses to your advantage.
- We all love samples. If you’ve had your work published, send me links to those articles. If you’re a designer, link to your website. I need to know what you’re capable of. You’d be surprised how many people skip this step.
- Eye Of The Tiger. Okay, it’s corny to reference Rocky movies. But thirty years later, it’s still true. You have to “want” in this business. You have to be willing to work harder than any other. You have to be willing to sacrifice more than any other. You have to be willing to STAND OUT more than any other….
- Stand Out In this industry, you’ll forever be in a state of competition. Find ways to separate yourself from the rest of the pack. I’m reminded of being a child and having my mother tell me, “If you want to win that coloring contest, be different!” Ask yourself, what makes me unique? How can you approach a task from a different perspective? Whatever that method is, show it to the editor. I can’t emphasize this point any more.