May 23, 2013 by Jen Cudmore
Credibility is often determined by how well a person corresponds with others. I first learned this truth in college. When I worked as an assistant to the psychology department, one professor frequently brought me items to ‘critique’ before he sent them. He knew his grammar skills were weak and wanted a second opinion before he submitted anything with his name on it.
For nearly ten years I’ve worked in the back office of a medical clinic. In that time I’ve seen some very well written letters, emails and policies. I’ve also seen some not-so-good ones. By the way people write, they set the level of professionalism, and thus earn an element of trust over how effectively they can do their job.
For example, I was amazed at the difference in emails I received from two ladies at the state medical board. One wrote in complete sentences and I never saw a typo. The other had either a spelling or grammar error in every sentence. I chose to deal with the first person on all future questions. I felt certain her professionalism would most likely transfer into every other aspect of her job.
If you want people to take you seriously as a novelist, follow these tips every time you send any type of correspondence:
1. Know the rules of grammar and spelling. Find a good grammar guide and familiarize yourself with the concepts. I recommend Write and Wrong by Marthy Johnson, a wonderful lady I met at a local conference.
2. Open with a proper greeting. Saying “hey” or “what’s up” is too friendly business. Use the person’s name whenever possible.
3. Close with a polite salutation and your full contact information. I often see professionals closing with “Thanks,” or “Regards,”. I personally use “Blessings,” at the end of my emails. The recipient also needs to know your full name and your business title, if you have one, as well as your phone and social media connections.
4. Proofread before sending. Typos happen to all of us, so review everything, and better yet, get a second opinion. When I first developed my website, I asked my sister to review each section to make sure there were no typos. Sure enough – she found a duplicate word!
5. Take a break. Walk away and find something else to do for a few minutes. Every time I sent a query I got tense and anxious because I wanted to make it perfect. In order to relax I often stepped away and took a few deep breaths, or even slept on it. I found when I returned I could focus easier.
Bottom line: Be careful what you submit – you want to give off a positive and professional impression.