Emailing authors in class (cont.) – A JN4403 module task

In commissioning editing, the author–editor relationship is what it’s all about. Which is why sending out the right email, with the right tone, is important.

Last week, the class emailed two authors. Now we’re going to look at the authors’ responses, what are good ways to go about it, and examples of what not to do.

Remember some emails were deliberately offensive or overly placating, so that we could get a range of responses.

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Last week’s emails to A. Edwards and T. Hennessey and their replies:(Skip to end)

Tony to A. Edwards

Tony to A. Edwards (part 1) Tony to A. Edwards (part 2)

A. Edwards to Tony 

A. Edwards to Tony

  • Tony described his email as merely mild and dismissive, but good points were that it was sharp and to the point. Edwards’ reply is reflective of that mildness.

Abi to A. Edwards

Abi to A. Edwards

A. Edwards to Abi

A. Edwards to Abi

  • Tony pointed out Abi’s email as an example of a well-written email.

Jasleen, Hannah, and Rebecca to A. Edwards

Jasleen, Hannah and Rebecca to A. Edwards (part 1)  Jasleen, Hannah and Rebecca to A. Edwards (part 2)

A. Edwards to Jasleen, Hannah, and Rebecca

A. Edwards to Jasleen, Hannah and Rebecca

  • The overall tone (as A. Edwards pointed out) is patronizing, especially the ‘Yours Apologetically’ sign off.

Chantelle, Megan and Rachel to A. Edwards

Chantelle, Megan and Rachel to A. Edwards (part 1)  Chantelle, Megan and Rachel to A. Edwards (part 2)

A. Edwards to Chantelle, Megan and Rachel

A. Edwards to Chantelle, Megan and Rachel

  • The email was not long enough. Emails of this type give off the impression that you don’t care enough.

Jessica to A. Edwards

Jessica to A. Edwards (part 1)  Jessica to A. Edwards (part 2)

A. Edwards to Jessica

A. Edwards to Jessica

  • Mentioning “the standard protocol” is a good way to show that you are not singling his book out.
  • “I hope this has alleviated your concerns and that we can continue working together on this project” is a good sentence to end the email with.

Hannah to T. Hennessey

Hannah to T. Hennessey

T. Hennessey to Hannah

T. Hennessey to Hannah

  • Hanna’s email was an extreme example of what not to do.

Claire to T. Hennessey

email Claire to T. Hennessey

T. Hennessey to Claire (version 1)

1st reply from T. Hennessey to Claire

  • The inclination with this type of email would be to go on the attack, but it’s to take a step back and reply calmly.

T. Hennessey to Claire (version 2)

2nd reply from T. Hennessey to Claire

  • His replies to Claire might seem unfair, but keep in mind that, as a commissioning editor, you would deal with a range of different people and need to adapt to their individual ways of communicating. Whilst Hennessey was role-playing here, always keep in mind your relationship with the recipient and how to best word your emails.

Tori to T. Hennessey

email from Tori to T. Hennessey

T. Hennessey to Tori

reply from T. Hennessey to Tori

  • You can tell from his reply that he really likes Tori’s email. She was informative, proactive and took responsibility.

So, what can we learn from these emails?

  • Remember your audience. You will interact differently with different people.
  • Notice how Hennessey replies with different tones. Depending on the email, he signs with Tom, Thomas Hennessey, or Professor Hennessey. Always use appropriate titles when communicating.
  • Remember to put a clear subject line.
  • Demonstrate you have taken action.
  • Be informative.
  • Be clear and concise.

–> It’s a fine balancing act! The best way to learn is to practice and learn from your mistakes.

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