Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Add this to your list of do's and don'ts

Dear Query Shark:

(query text)






------



This E-mail, including any attachments, may be intended solely for the personal and confidential use of the sender and recipient(s) named above. This message may include advisory, consultative and/or deliberative material and, as such, would be privileged and confidential and not a public document. Any Information in this e-mail identifying a client of the Department of Human Services or the Department of Children and Families is confidential. If you have received this e-mail in error, you must not review, transmit, convert to hard copy, copy, use or disseminate this e-mail or any attachments to it and you must delete this message. You are requested to notify the sender by return e-mail.




This is why you don't send your email queries from your work email.  Your query is not personal and confidential to me.  It's a query.  If I like your work, I need to talk about it to other people.

Also, you need your own email for your writing business.

This doesn't lead to automatic-rejection, but it's not the kind of professional presentation you want to have.

29 comments:

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

Can't imagine conducting my writing business from my day job. I can't believe most employers would approve.

arhooley said...

Some people don't even realize these statements go out at the end of every e-mail they send from the office or a web client (ads for Mail2Web, anyone?). The statement doesn't show up in the message when it's being composed, but it does when the recipient gets it.

Adam Heine said...

Most employers DON'T approve of this. But then most employers don't approve of Freecell either. *shrug*

In my old job, part of the fine print said that ANYTHING we created using company time and materials legally belonged to them. That meant if I wrote a novel on their computer in between work tasks, technically they could sue me for the rights.

They probably never would, but that's not the point. The point is writing is a job too, and it requires its own time and resources.

Alice said...

They should send a fake note to themselves and check their sent mail.

Irene Troy said...

This is wrong on so many levels it boggles the mind! If you really don’t know that these type statements append to almost all e-mail exiting almost all public and many private agencies then, well…this says something not terribly complimentary about you. If, on your employer’s nickel, you are writing your novel at work, I’m not sure what to think other than perhaps it is time for a review of your priorities and goals. Weird.

Josin L. McQuein said...

Yikes.

That could be an exceptionally bad oversight on the senders part if their query involves a novel or non-fic book dealing with with child or familial abuse. It could give the impression that maybe they don't have permission to use the material they're querying.

Joel said...

I suppose it could be an ironic way to establish credibility, but in fact her first publishing credit may be on failblog.org, followed by sequel on thesmokinggun.com ... My CAPTCHA is caper, so I think it's my cue to scamper.

John K said...

I used my work e-mail to enter a contest at the 'Miss Snark's First Victim' site, because I could set it to go automatically at the start time. Good plan, until....

my company's auto disclosure added 95 words to my 250, leading to auto-DQ!

another potential problem is if your writing has certain words...red flagged by many corp e-mail administratrs.

Leona said...

And some managers allow people to use their computers on their breaks/lunches for personal use as long as they don't go to restricted sites or download anything...

Might be good to beware and not send the email from work even so in case there are attachments like that!

Petrea said...

I once had a great day-job where my employer allowed me to write on the office computer during my lunch breaks. I finished a screenplay and a TV pilot that way. I didn't use my work email for sending queries, but it's possible an employee could have that permission from a sympathetic boss.

Maybe not. I'm just sayin'.

Maria Kenney said...

That being said, could a writer make public a rejection letter/request for a partial to a query sent by an agent? As in, for example, post it on his/her blog?

Seahawk Sailor said...

I always, always send myself several test messages when I'm sending anything out. That way it gives me a chance to look things over from a different point of view and see how it's going to look to the recipient. I want to see exactly what they're going to see before I even think about sending it out. I can't imagine not doing that.

Andy Goodman said...

The presentation of a professional image is one of the first steps anyone submitting work should take. If you don't present yourself as a professional, why should anyone else have that opinion? Sending submissions or queries out from a work email address is pretty stupid, and may even lead to you losing that job.
Personal email addresses are free and plentiful, so there's no excuse for not using one.

Nerine Dorman said...

Friendly banter between professionals, swapping recipes or asking quick industry-related questions, yes. As for the rest, it's technically "work" and I like to keep that separate from my day-job.

Josin L. McQuein said...

@ Maria Kenney

Google the Rejection Queen.

She habitually posted (and ranted about) every rejection letter she got. Her blog went viral a few months ago when a writer (Gaiman, I think)found it through a friend or fan and directed people there for a laugh.

I'm not sure that's the kind of thing you're meaning, but there are people who post their rejections verbatim. It's a bad idea IMO, because if anyone you rant about has a Google Alert on their name, then what you write is taken straight to their email.

Joanne Sheppard said...

"it's possible an employee could have that permission from a sympathetic boss."

I don't think it's the permission that's the problem. I think it's the lack of professionalism when approaching the agent.

Even if I had my boss' permission to use my work email address to query agents, I never would. I mean, really, how hard would it have been for that author to set up a web mail account to use for writing-related business?

Janet Reid said...

Remember too that if you depart from QuitCherBitchin.com your email address and archives are lost to you.

Your personal email account stays with you.

That should persuade you to have your own email if nothing else does.

Petrea said...

Joanne S., I get your point. Well said. And I agree you should always have your own email account.

I wish I'd thought of QuitCherBitchin.com, but it's probably already taken.

JS said...

I am on Team "Yeah, It's Weird and Unprofessional" here.

Writing is work. If you send email related to one job from the email account devoted to another job, that makes you look unprofessional at two jobs, not just one.

Even if personal emailing is OK with your employer, it looks odd to the recipient to get an email from Jane Writer that is clearly meant--by its framing language--to be from Jane Assistant Sales Manager or whatever.

I did once have a boyfriend who sent me flirty/sexy mails from work, where the auto-footer was all 'THIS R SUPER-SECRET FINANCIAL INFORMATION AND IF YOU TELL ANYONE YOU'RE GOING TO BE IN BIG TROUBLE WITH THE SEC!!!1!' and it always made me wonder if the SEC really cared what lingerie I was wearing that day. Don't be that guy.

Kathryn Packer Roberts said...

Ha! I hadn't thought of that. But then I don't have a work email that I need worry about.

I also liked Adam's comments. That's so true. Why would you send it at work? I know the temptation may be there, but still...

Terri Nixon said...

The office where I used to work had e-mail but not general web access, and all accounts like Hotmail, Googlemail etc, were blocked.
I have to say, if I still worked there and my home web access/email account was knackered, I'd have been tempted to send from my work address.

I think things like this can be judged too harshly; it doesn't mean you're unprofessional, it just means you might have an access problem, and you have a day job you can use to help out temporarily. Surely if the query is good, it shouldn't matter?

Megan Sayer said...

Another thing to watch out for (although perhaps a little less serious) is the advertising lines that pop up after your name (in the same way as the work disclaimer one) from internet mail sites like hotmail.

I once received an email from a lady at our church with the latest prayer request newsletter. After her name there was a tag along the lines of "wanting to meet hot singles? Visit WXYZ.com". No. I wouldn't want that one going off to an agent either.

Jo-Ann said...

Come on, people, lighten up!

If the Department of Human Services is the department that investigates child abuse and neglect (as it does where I'm from), I am betting that the staff there put in very long hours dealing with abusive clients. Then stay behind into the small hours of the night writing and polishing court reports, (knowing full well that they will be cross examined on their content for hours the following day). These people are usually owed lots of hours as time-in-lieu which they are too over-worked to take.

A wise employer would overlook the perk of using email for private matters.

Even if that's not the case, my point is that it may look unprofessional, there may be some circumstances where its the most convenient way to do it.

However, the other point about using your work email for private matters is that the IT folk could easily and legitimately access anything you send - and the responses from editors and agents.

Even if you had deleted them from your inbox and sent folder, the electronic ghost remains!

Personally, I wouldn't mind the IT people reading my query, but I may feel embarrassed if they saw the high volume of rejections received.

Adam Heine said...

Even if you have the most forgiving employer in the world, the bottom line is that when the agent receives an e-mail from annrice@geicoinsurance.com with a disclaimer on the bottom saying "any correspondence may become part of the client's permanent file," it looks odd and unprofessional.

Especially when the alternative takes very little time and effort. Even if Gmail and other e-mail providers are blocked from the office: e-mail the query you made at work to your personal address, then the next time you have 2 minutes at home, send it from there to the agent (obviously deleting all the work-related nonsense).

Kim Kouski said...

Neve in a million of years would I have thought of that!! Thanks for pointing it out.

Katrina S. Forest said...

If your internet access is lost completely, there are lots of places to get access besides work - libraries, for example. Or, if you have a laptop, take it to the nearest coffee shop. Most offer free wifi.

I dunno, maybe I'm just unsympathetic to the whole checking e-mail at work thing because my job barely gives me time to breathe, let alone check e-mail. ^_^

Stephanie Barr said...

A great many cellphones will allow you to check and send emails. I would not recommend using it to work with attachments, however.

Liz said...

Another concern I didn't see addressed is that all emails from government agencies(not just work related) become subject to public information requests. Depending on the information detailed in a query, it could cause serious problems for the writer, the department, and the agency. One reporter sniffing around could cause a lot of problems

Dawn Balsdon said...

This is an extremely important don't.

I never would have thought of it.

Thanks for pointing it out