Second Guessing Your Email Submission

In this era of email submissions it is easier than ever to get your submission out quick… maybe too quick. Because sometimes you think you’re ready. You hit send. Oops! You made a mistake! Panic time!!!

Okay, take a deep breath. You can handle this.

Stuff happens. Opinions on this may vary but 99 times out of 100 mine is… let it go. That’s right, you heard me.

First of all if you are subbing well, which I expect of all of you Sub It Clubbers, your mistake should be small. A typo? It’s okay. It might even be read over without a second glance. Forgot to put in your word count? Tisk tisk. Do better next time! But don’t send another email.

What if you put in the wrong name? Situations will vary of course, but you are going to have to make the decision for yourself. If you’ve addressed it to a person that actually works at the company, don’t sweat it. A person working at a completely different agency or publisher? Ugh. You might consider re-sending with a very short apology. If you do resend be sure to attach it to your original email so the two are connected in the inbox.

The subject line is important. Some agencies have an automatic response set to reply to queries. So, be sure you read the submission guidelines and follow them! If the agency says you will get a response but you don’t, it’s good to remember that these things do not always work. Recheck the stated guidelines. You may be able to find some extra info online from other writers about responses as well. Do some due diligence before you even consider re-sending, for sure. It might even be wise to wait the entire stated response time before worrying that there’s a problem. You do not want to be that person with a long string of emails for your one submission.

There are ways to cut off e-submission mistakes and cutting off mistakes is always your best bet!

  • Don’t send your submission off as soon as you think you have it done. Give it a rest period, just like your manuscripts. (You do let your manuscripts rest, don’t you? I sure do.)
  • Reread your submission. Quite a few times. Not all in a row.
  • Read your submission out loud.
  • Write your query letter in your word processing program to help catch typos.
  • Have someone else read over your submission.
  • Keep a handy list of things that need to go into your submissions, and things you should double check before sending. (I’ll get together a handy list for my post next week!)
  • Don’t put the recipient’s email address in the ‘To’ box until you are absolutely, positively ready to send the email.

Have other ways to avoid mistakes in e-submissions? Please, share them with your fellow subbers in the comments. No one on submission wants to have that YIKES! moment. It’s no fun at all.

7 thoughts on “Second Guessing Your Email Submission

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  1. I looked over the sub I sent last week to most shiny, favorite agent. I went to sent folder and GASPED! A quotation mark didn’t paste into the email page. GAH! It shows up on the word doc. I’m betting that most shiny, favorite agent will flush it down the toilet. *sobbing*


    1. This is just the kind of mistake that I think you need to not stress out about. Stuff happens. As long as you sent a professional package I think it will be judged as such.
      You know, I have this little policy I made for myself. I don’t read my submissions again after I send them until I get a reply or the no response date has passed. Then I don’t have any freak outs. Of course, I have been known to break this rule.


    Second–My Most Embarrassing Moment:

    I send queries in batches, changing the “reason why I’m querying you” part and the name. Guess who didn’t change the name?

    I realized my mistake nearly immediately, and sent an apology letter including more citations of interviews they’d given and articles they’d written.

    An answer came pretty quickly, very graciously letting me off the hook. And later, a gentle rejection.

    I think if you go the extra mile to sort of “prove” it was an error, agents are fine with it. I’m sure they’ve seen worse.


  3. Sometimes I’ll send my submission to my husband first. Not because he can proof it, he can’t, but to check how the doc came thru and make sure Word didn’t rearrange things like it sometimes does.
    Worst mistake so far: In sending illustration images to an agent, they were too large to make it through his size limit filter. (I was not aware of it). So when I followed up with him he let me know he never got them. So I tried again. And again. And again. For some reason 1 would make it through, but not the others, repeatedly! Just when I thought we were permanent pen pals it all worked. He was very kind about it all, and I was very apologetic. Gah! Nothing like proving your competency.


  4. I keep track of my submissions on an old-school sheet of notebook paper. Once I accidently sent my list to a publisher along with my submission! Oooops!


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