Respond to Your Email

Last month, Lillian Cohen-Moore wrote about some ways that people fail when it comes to using social media for business.[1] Today, I’m going to do that with email, as there are some things all creatives and publishers need to understand:

Confirm that you received an email, especially when it contains a contract, files, important directions, or anything else where “hey, I got this” could be handy for the sender.

You know what happens when you don’t? The other person has to wonder if it just a spam folder, got buried in a bunch of emails, accidentally deleted because you clicked on the wrong thing, misdelivered, or otherwise just didn’t get to you.

If you’re the sort of person who leaves emails unread to deal with them[2], try this:

  1. Reply that you got something
  2. Flag the email as unread

Better yet, quickly process the email to at least add it to a to-do list, download to file into a working folder, or put a calendar reminder to address that email/issue soon. But, at bare minimum, confirm receipt. Confirming receipt is a small sign that promotes trust and acknowledging responsibility — you know, things that actually indicate professionalism.

When you don’t respond to an email that says “Where is the publication timeline at, and when can I expect to get paid?”, you might be thinking “Oh, I don’t have an answer. Maybe I’ll have one tomorrow, and respond then.” What we hear when you don’t respond: “This publisher is at best an anxiety creator and isn’t worth my full effort in the future, and at worst a ripoff human.” And creators, when you get an email about an upcoming or past deadline and likewise don’t respond right then because you’re hoping to have the work done very soon, you’re causing the same problems for the publisher.

Creators and publishers, when you don’t respond to an email that says “When should I plan to receive X or work on the next stage of X?” or “I see you’ve announced something I’m involved with without telling me; what work do you need me to do for it?”, you’re introducing more chaos into already busy lives. (I am particularly sensitive about that this year, as I have  blackout dates from both summer conventions and from my upcoming wedding and honeymoon.)

Everything here is something that I’m guilty of and that I’ve had inflicted upon me. I definitely understand what it’s like to be overwhelmed with projects, with life, with the inability to process stimuli due to mental health issues[3], and so on. Understand that you’re contributing to those same problems with the people you’re trying to do business with when emails to you effectively go into a black hole from their perspective.


– Ryan

Image from: socialhubris.com/it-is-a-must-to-respond/

(Note that much of this post came from a post last year, Confirm Receipt.)

[1] We tend to give and take primacy over a given topic.

[2] Also, there are many better methods for dealing with work processes.

[3] Which I’m sympathetic to.