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B&N Week 118: Communication–Email & Ads

| March 26, 2013

BoltsNutsFeatured-communication

Once again, we have another Tuesday before us! I’ve been looking forward to today since last week. I really missed you. Never let it be said that I’m not open with my emotions.

This week, I wanted to talk about communication, with an emphasis on contacting creators and the ads you write. They both touch upon the same areas, so I want to talk about them both. Why these topics? Because a good portion of you write some truly abysmal contact e-mails and want-ads, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t try to help you with it.

Here is an email I recently received. What I want you to do is to tell me what’s wrong with it.

Steven Forbes

Thanks for accepting my invitation and sorry for this unsolicited letter.

I’m an independent comic artist and my last comic work [redacted] can be free downloaded from [redacted].

[Snip]

Would be great if you can take a look at it.

Thank you very much for your time and consideration.

[redacted]

Let’s take a look at this.

We have my name as an opening, so at least they know whom they’re writing to. The invitation they’re talking about came from LinkedIn, and yes, the letter was unsolicited.

They let me know that they’re an artist, which is fine. I can’t mistake them for being a writer or a colorist or any other part of a creative team.

Then we start getting into some wonky writing. Wonky is a technical term. Get used to it. But that wonky writing starts to tell me something, and then I hope it bears itself out.

This is going to sound terrible, but as soon as I start to see writing where there are wrong verb tenses or missing words, I immediately start to think that the author of the letter has English as a second or third language. I just hope that there are clues within the letter that bear this out.

Well, there are parts that I cut out that says that this comic can also be downloaded in Spanish.

Ah! The clue I was looking for, right? Right. So, I read the rest of the email, knowing now that the writer is of Latin descent, and that English may not be their native tongue.

Okay.

Now, what does the author of the letter want?

I have no idea.

And this is the problem with a lot of emails that I get out of the blue. And if I’m getting them, then I know that there are a lot of people out there doing the same thing, sending out letters that are unclear as to what the author is looking for.

Letter writing isn’t difficult, folks. It may be a little nerve-wracking to write to someone you don’t know, trying to create a relationship out of nothing, but that doesn’t mean you forget to tell them the reason why you’re writing.

If you look at the letter, there’s no reason given as to why this person is writing to me. What do they want? (They want you to read their comic. They gave you a place for it to be downloaded. No mystery there, Steven.) Okay. So what happens after I read it? (…) Exactly.

When you write to someone, do the basic things: introduce yourself, state your business, and be clear about what you want, and a rough timeframe as to when you want it. All without being rude or adding pressure to the person, who may or may not be swamped with work.

Here’s a letter to use as an example:

 

Hello, Steven.

My name is Kletus Jerkovitch, and I’m a writer just getting started. I love what you’ve been doing at ComixTribe, doing both Bolts & Nuts and The Proving Grounds. Thank you for providing such wonderful references every week.

I was wondering if you’d be interested in looking over my comic, Clean Sweep, and giving me any tips or pointers that you can. I know you must be pretty busy, so anything you can give me would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you for your time, and I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Kletus

To break it down, the writer introduced themselves, and what it was that they did. Then there were some compliments. Then, they stated their business, saying what it was that they wanted. Finally, they gave a timeframe as to when they wanted a response.

Simple, and to the point. No fuss, no muss, and no need for any follow-up emails to clarify what was wanted. With the first email, I had to ask what the author wanted of me. This one didn’t need any follow-up. [And yes, while I wrote this myself, it is an amalgam of letters I’ve received. So it wasn’t really all about self-aggrandizement.]

If you all write your e-mails like this, or something approximating this, then you’re more likely to get a response.

Always let the recipient know what it is you’re asking of them.

When it comes to the want ads that you write, I see a lot of things like this:

Calling All Artist

[Redacted] is taking submissions for artist! We are looking for artist to work on various titles set to be released in 2013-2014. We are a growing company and looking for Global talent and Artists who are willing to grow with our company. We pay [redacted] per page rate, and the deadline for this submission is May, 1 2013. Submission instrustions: All artist must illustrate from The Movie Script in [redacted]. On the final page of [redacted] there is a moive script and your art submission must be based off the script sample. All submissions must be emailed to[redacted] by May 1, 2013 Midnight. WE ARE ONLY TAKING SUBMISSIONS BASED OFF THE MOVIE SCRIPT IN THE [redacted]. We are taking Global submissions and are looking for artist who have the ability to work with a team and grow with our company. [redacted] comic book can be Pre-ordered through Diamond. You will be able to order it through Diamond with this order number [redacted] This month in Diamond Previews that come out on March 27, 2013. No other submission will be accepted! We will pick the best submission and are looking to sign 15 artist to fill our projects.
THE FUTURE IS NOW…..IS CREATIVITY IN YOU???

Yes, this is a true ad. Terrible, isn’t it? Let’s break it down. [I have removed all of the identifying information from the post.]

We have a mistake in tense in the heading of the post. That should tell us some things about what we’re going to find inside, shouldn’t it?

I’m not going to take this line-by-line. However, what I’ll say is that, if you’re a writer or are writing, then you should know about certain things: verb tense, capitalization, and spelling. Those are the basics.

You also have to know about selling your idea, which can be difficult. Writing an ad takes practice. You have to know what you want, you have to entice your target audience to want to write, and you have to be brief while doing it.

The above does a lot of things, but except for offering a page rate, it is pretty difficult to take this seriously.

I’ve seen worse. I’ve seen ads where the poster forgot to put in a way to be contacted. I’ve seen where supposed writers have ads riddled with spelling mistakes, so that the ad cannot be taken seriously.

Take your time, folks. If you’re a writer, you have no excuse for spelling mistakes. If you’re not, then have someone read over the ad to make sure that it reads well, and has all the necessary components [what you’re needing, what you’re offering, a way to contact you]. Take your time, do it right, and you’ll save yourself embarrassment and time in having to do it over again, or in posting a second, clarifying ad.

And that’s it for this week. See you in seven.

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Category: Bolts & Nuts, Columns

About the Author ()

Steven is an editor/writer with such credits as Fallen Justice, the award nominated The Standard, and Bullet Time under his belt, as well as work published by DC Comics. Between he and his wife, there are 10 kids (!), so there is a lot of creativity all around him. Steven is also the editor in chief and co-creator of ComixTribe, whose mission statement is Creators Helping Creators Make Better Comics. If you're looking for editing, contact him at stevedforbes@gmail.com for rate inquiries.

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