Establish Your Identity
Okay, this might seem like a really nitpicky complaint. I’m sorry. But here goes, a mini rant. Trust me, it’s just one more way I’m trying to help you, dear writers, understand how to begin creating a positive, professional image for yourself, from the very first time you come in contact with an agent or editor.
You know when you send an email to someone, and it shows up in that person’s inbox, with a particular NAME beside it? Like:
From: Jane Smith. Subject: Query – Women’s Fiction
The name that appears in the inbox is your display name. Here’s my observation. An astounding number of people do not send queries from an email address with their OWN display name attached to it.
Like, today. The line in my inbox said:
From: Esther. Subject: Query. (Name changed, of course.)
So when I opened the email, my mind was already primed for a query from this dear lady “Esther.” I read the query, which was for an action-adventure novel, striking me as strange coming from Esther. Lo and behold, at the very bottom it was signed, “John Smith.” (Name changed again.)
It messes with my mind, I tell you. IF you are going to be a writer, and IF you are presumably going to write under your own name, it makes sense to get started by having your very own email address. Free email addresses are available everywhere. It doesn’t really matter what the actual email address is—what’s important is the display name. Your address could be firstname.lastname@example.org as long as your display name is YOU.
I come across this most often in emails from women using their husband’s email address. OR, when people have a single “family” email address. Like, “gardnerfamily4” and it shows up in my inbox as “Gardner Family.” I’m pretty sure the query was NOT written by the entire family. I frequently get queries from people with display names like “Mommy of 3.” Now, I know that might be your main identity, but this is about being professional, and showing editors and agents right from the get-go that you are going to treat your publishing career professionally.
You’re trying to create an identity for yourself as an author. I want to receive a query from YOU, and I want to begin learning who you are right from the very beginning. The first time I ever come in contact with you is when your name appears in my inbox. That’s when I start forming a picture in my mind of who you are.
So, writers, please get your own email address. And if you have your own, and your display name is something like “mommy of 3,” please change it to Jane Smith. Or, um, whatever your name actually is.
Rachelle Gardner, Christian literary agent, WordServe Literary Group, Colorado.