To get to the subject line we need to decide a few things first.
How formal are you going to be?
Personally, I think my usual email messages are too informal for a first meeting with someone so important. I’m going to put on my best manners, acknowledge that they have little time to waste and assume (until I stand corrected) that my story is exactly what they are looking for.
Business Letter vs Email, what’s the difference?
If you want to see what I mean by a business letter, here’s an example. Right away you can see the differences between an informal email and a business letter. At the top, the more formal has all the contact information for each of you. Both should also have a date, salutation, closing, and a subject line.
What you included in your email can make it simple for both of you. In the writer’s case, all the formal information helps you keep track of what you submitted and to whom. You might want to BCC a copy to yourself to file away.
For the editor/agent it is also simple. Your facts are presented quickly and without fuss. Yes, the letter is to them. They see you’ve included your contact info, for response. They also know at glance if they should keep reading — if you’ve chosen your words carefully in the subject line.
What Goes into a Subject Line?
This is the first stop when submitting. Go to their twitter #mswl, website/blog posts and find out exactly what the editor/agent is looking for. Know what it is and send them exactly that. Then state it simply and clearly in the subject line. For example: Fantasy: Work Title, finished @ ##k
Every editor/agent is looking for the next big find and they go through a mess of works to find that one piece of gold. Check out #tenqueries in twitter. Submissions get rejected because they don’t follow guidelines, do obvious massive submissions, or it’s the wrong genre. Those aren’t the only reasons, but ugh wouldn’t you kick yourself if you did something this silly.
Our egos don’t need more battering. Aim for acceptance by at least trying to be in the right place at the right time. So pick out your possibilities carefully as much for you as for them. Once you’ve selected ten victims, get to know them. Look for their reasons why they would love your work.
This leads to my next post about personalizing the first paragraph.
Writers: Any tricks or tips on the subject line you’d like to share? Are there other places to look to find out what an editor/agent wishes for?
Book Bloggers: What helps you cut through all the applications for review? Do you use the subject line as a guide?
• Twitter following #tenqueries + #mswl