Irresistible Subject Lines
Like most people inside the publishing world, I receive a high volume of email. Unlike some editors, I attempt to answer a high percentage of it each day—even if it’s a very brief response. At least the sender knows someone read it and responded. Yes, I use form response letters to submissions since that is the only practical way to cope with the onslaught of submissions. The majority of these manuscript submissions use the standard subject line which is automatically generated when they click the link from the guidelines website: Fiction Manuscript. I know it’s not specific but I instantly know where the sender found my email address. Other writers are a bit more creative in this process and I appreciate this effort.
Imagine my surprise yesterday to my permanent email address when I received this subject line: “are you from Raceland, KY?” Everyone would have hit the delete button and thrown away this email but I had to click it. It was irresistible. Then look at the first paragraph of the email, “I recently purchased the “First Place” book at our local Christian bookstore, thinking of maybe leading a study for our church. When I saw your name on front, I couldn't help but wonder if I know you. The Terry Whalin that I know is from Raceland, KY. If you are a different Terry Whalin, please just delete this email and accept my apologies for bothering you.”
See the tone and creativity in this paragraph? It’s short and to the point—yet targeted. For me, it was irresistible. I had to read the entire email, then answer it. The writer tapped something that only a few people would know about me. I spent the first eleven years of my life in Raceland, Kentucky—a small town in northeastern Kentucky. It is something that I constantly carry with me as a part of my growing up years. While few people remember it, my name is on the cover of every one of the First Place books. It’s work that I finished years ago and have pressed on yet this writer made a connection with me in her thoughtful email.
Far too often, I see emails that have “Hello” in the subject line or something completely unthinking. After all, we are writers and editors who should be able to muster a tiny bit of creative energy—even for the subject lines.