Netiquette: Checking Emails, Screaming…and More on Protocol

Guest Post by Irene Watson

I’m getting very frustrated because it seems there is a run on a bunch of authors that don’t bother to check their emails more than once a week or every couple of weeks.  I can’t understand why, after publishing their book, they aren’t available to answer potential reader’s queries let alone emails from me following up on their review requests or an attempt to set up an interview.

I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again…once you publish a book you are now in businesses. Think about it – how would you feel if you were attempting to contact a business and they didn’t bother to respond. Or, if you  went to a business and the door was closed with no sign saying when they will open again.  This is no different.  Once a book is published the author has to be available to their potential readers, possible media contact, or, hey, maybe even Oprah’s producer will email you to see if you would appear on the show.   Picking up emails once a week or once in awhile is not a good business practice.

Another thing I’ve noticed is that I get emails from authors asking me to “search” for their book on YouTube, Google, or  Huh?  Why would I want to do that?  If you, as an author, want to get my attention (or the attention of a potential reader) don’t give me the title of your book and ask me to search for it on the web;  give me the link/s where I should go. And this is especially important if you want me to give you something for free.  Why in God’s green acres would I spend a bunch of time and effort to hunt for your book just to give you a free review or give you a free consultation. It’s just not going to happen.   Be sure to make it easy for your potential reader, which could be me,  to find your book and don’t expect anyone to take the time or make the effort to “Google” your book title.  This is an expectation that is totally unreasonable.

As well, I find that many of the authors don’t whitelist email addresses that they are doing business with. This is an important step to do because many of the spam programs may suspect or assume  it’s a spam and either put an incoming email into the spam box or entirely delete the email.  However, I have to tell you, even if you whitelist an email address there is still a possibility that the email will end up in the spam box so it’s important to, at least once a day, do a cursory check to be sure an email didn’t end up there and deleted.

And while we are talking about emails, did you know that using UPPER CASE text denotes screaming/shouting  (or confrontation)?  I often see authors using upper case when sending emails, or highlighting the title of the book. This is not appropriate at all and against netiquette rules. If you want to highlight the title of the book, please use quotation marks or italics. As well, using red in the email or bold is considered confrontational.  An accountant in New Zealand was  awarded $17,000 NZD for unfair dismissal after her boss fired her without warning for using uppercase letters in an email to co-workers. The email, which advises her team how to fill out staff claim forms, specifies a time and date highlighted in bold red, and a sentence written in upper case and highlighted in bold blue. Her boss considered the upper case  letters too confrontational and fired her. ( By the way, acronyms don’t fall into this protocol so it’s okay to say LOL.)

There is more about netiquette on the Griffith University site (be sure to scroll down to see the Acronyms & Emoticons that are being used in emails.)

As well, here is a great video:

So…is it time to polish up on Netiquette?  I’d like to hear what you have to say.  

Irene Watson is the Managing Editor of Reader Views, where avid readers can find reviews of recently published books as well as read interviews with authors. Her team also provides author publicity and a variety of other services specific to writing and publishing books.


Posted on November 21, 2010, in Publicity & Writing, Writing & Publishing. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Great post, Irene. I don't understand authors who don't check their email either. In fact, I've been at conferences where authors have asked what they should do to market their books if they live in a rural area without Internet access. I have one question for them – do you want to live in a rural area or be an author? Choose? If it's be an author, move, or at least hire someone who can check your email for you. How can an author not have Internet access in the 21st century?

  2. Of course I agree wholeheartedly with the frequency of checking email. Especially if the MEDIA are contacting you, time is of the essence. I know we've lost some opportunities with newspaper exposure because we didn't email back within two hours. Of course if it's really that important, I don't know why they didn't pick up the telephone. I guess the telephone is a tool of last resort for many people these days.I try to have a personal rule to say SOMETHING in reply within 48 hours but it's not always possible. My personal best is sending 71 emails in a one work-day period. Yes all individually composed and written to different people on unrelated issues. In fact, there are many days that I get nothing done outside of NOT FALLING BEHIND in the day's email. I do much less product development because of the constant inquiries from authors. So authors, please don't write your publisher once a month to ask "how are sales?", you have no idea what a burden it is to pull together a custom report for such a casual question. And please NEVER ask more than three questions in a single email. Probably there is a bigger misunderstanding at play if you feel the need to ask 20 questions in ONE email. So life only works if both parties act responsibly.

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