Wednesday, April 01, 2009

more on email addresses

My evil plan to cause consternation in the world of writers appears to be taking shape nicely. Yet again, I've posted something that I thought was clear only to read the comment section and hear "bzzzzt! wrong-o!"

Back to email addresses for a moment.

When your queries come to me I see your email address: "" or I see "amanda"

That looks pretty normal to me, and if it's in my in-box, Priscilla Queen of the Desert of no-response spam filter said it was ok too.

Good. That's what we want.

The trouble is when Priscilla has pursed her pruny lips and said "not so fast bucko."

Those emails stay in the spam filter until I wade in with a hook.

I don't open the emails. What I do is move my mouse over the address.

If I see "Amanda" but my mouse reveals "" is the real sender I leave it IN the spam filter.

That seems obvious.

Where it gets tricky is if I see "Amanda" as the sender but the address is ""

I don't open those either.

So, here's what you do. When you set up your email account and it asks for your name, put the name you want to use. Use that name consistently. And have it match the email that you're using. No "John Smith" name using "" for an email address.

For most of you this isn't a problem at all. And if you're smart of course, you've got your own email account; you aren't sharing it with people. But if I see "MummyTheLush" as your name and your email address is "" rest assured Priscilla and I have both sent you packing.

The account name, your name and the email name should all be reasonably identical. The key here is identical. They don't have to match your "real name;" they need to match EACH other.

So if you are one of ten thousand Annes in your family, maybe your email address is not Maybe it's The key is that the account name, the email name and the from name all say "AnneTheBaker" or something reasonably close so that when I'm looking at it, I intuit that yes, you are Anne the Baker.

You don't need your own domain name; I open email from gmail, hotmail, aol, comcast, verizon and a host of others.

What I don't open is email that looks like someone is trying to conceal the true name of the sender.

I'm not trying to be difficult here.

In the era of "no reply means no" you want to make damn sure your email didn't get waylaid by Priscilla or others of her ilk.


Jenna said...

Ah, now all is clear. Soon, please expect an email from mostpopularnameoftheseventies.commonlastname97657676553743837847 @

....Since that's what mine would be....

There's a very concrete reason some of us don't use "real" names as email addresses. For instance, there are THREE women in my family of my generation that have the same first and last name. Forgive me if I differentiate myself from them and the thousands of others. They took all the regular name emails before I got there.

And yes, my email name is my geeky Tolkein RPG character name. Sorry. I am a geek, after all. And it also looks like I might not make it past your filters. :(

This method works well for you, or I assume you wouldn't use it. I know there are a LOT of spambot jerks out there, but it still seems that you'd be screening out a lot of people unnecessarily. I'd say that a minimum of 85% of my email correspondents do not have names which match their emails. Those few who do are generally sending from

See, now you've got me curious and I want to do all kinds of tests on various email systems now...

Leigh Lyons said...

Hmm... would the fact that I have my real name as the name and my pen name as the email address fall under Priscilla's scrutiny? If so, I think I better get another (totally 5) email addie...

Skeptic said...

You receive an email from something.professional_title(at) When you mouse over the address, and the displayed name is just the email address, does the mail stay in the spam folder?

If the subject line is "Query", and your filter finds the address suspicious, does it go into the spam folder anyway?

If I sound like I'm being obtuse and missing the message, I apologize. Sleep deprivation is not conducive to coherent thought. :(

Marie said...

Thanks for the advice, Janet.

Anything I can do to ensure my unpublished novel gets safely to your Kindle is doable for me.

Scott said...

My email was set up by an IT person and doesn't include first, last, or any reference to my name at all. When people get an email from me, it does tell them 'Scott' is sending the email. The main reason my IT friend set up the email in that way was to discourage spammers who have a knack for figuring out email addresses and bombarding them with spam.

For example, a spammer could easily figure out my email address if it was or By using a mixture of letters that have meaning (tfc standing for the favorite child) there was less likelihood of a spam attack . . . which, I must say has worked because I get very little spam.

So, for querying sake, should I get a new email address?

Yen said...

Amen! If you want to be taken seriously, your email address should be of a professional nature. Of course, for many people, is not available, but there are many ways to adapt (without even using your last name for those who are shy about that) in a professional manner.

Therapist/Writer said...

Some people are "born to misunderstand". They like to bitch. They like to feel put upon. They like to blame.

Don't sweat it, Janet. You really can't please everyone all the time.

Maria said...

It can be difficult to use a real name in email (and there really are a lot of reasons to not use one--I use my initials), so I'm all for that previously mentioned "Form" for submissions!!!

Laura said...

I hear you. Jenna, you can use your geeky Tolkein name, as long as you make that the name that shows up along with your email address. Just make sure it says Geeky Tolkein name sent an email from geekytolkeinname[at]gmail[dot]com.

I wish I could use my real name, as I think it would be more professional, but when your last name is Edwards and your first name is far from unique, it's just not feasible. Now I know that if I keep everything the same — name that shows up and email name — I should slip past Priscilla.

Laura said...

p.s. just to add, I don't think folks are confused as much as frustrated. Not one person in my email list uses their real name as their, but they all — every single one after looking over the list — use their real name as sender along with that

Those of us who can't afford a domain and have generic names are just frustrated. But you and Priscilla are, of course, entitled to spam and reject.

We just might pass on submitting to you.

haha, this sounds snotty. Not meant to be, just pointing out that I think a lot of us "get it" we just don't like it, which is life. ;)

ICQB said...

Things may be a bit clearer, but honestly, when agents have a list of picky little things that we must follow to the letter (and believe me, this is picky), I tend to look elsewhere.

As writers we must research EACH agent and try to conform as best we can to EACH agent's submission guidelines. And now for one particular agent we must change our email address?

Um, no.

There is only so much bending over backwards we can do. So I get deleted from your inbox. Probably for the best.

John said...

My querying email address is, but my sender name is my real name. Some weeks ago I queried you and almost immediately got your very helpful response (helpful despite the part shooting me down like a slow-moving skeet).

Was Priscilla less particular until recently? Did you pluck my query like a fragrant clove from that day's greasy brick of spam?

Jenn Johansson said...

I understood what you were saying yesterday if that makes you feel any better about your communication skills. ;) I found this interesting because I have seen posts by agents requesting that the display name is your real name or at least the name you want them to correspond with you by, but I've never seen one quite like this. It makes sense though. (Darn that Priscilla, she keeps me up at night!)

I guess I need to finally get my e-mail address through my website set up. That way I can make it anything that I want and don't have to worry about the one hundred billion Jenn, Jenni or Jennifers of the world.

Thanks for the tip!

Haste yee back ;-) said...

Alas, I sense Priscilla and I will be sharing more grapes and caviar...Oh, next time I'm bringing champaigne. Priscilla so loves the bubbly - (she's a bit of the Bacchus, she is, really). Wish you were here!

I'm not sure anything in my whole email string of electronic monikers matches... hmmm!

Haste yee back ;-)

David Eric Tomlinson said...

So I guess my diabolical plan of submitting to you as "" will have to be reconsidered.


K. Andrew Smith said...

Jenna, there's ways around the problem you're having. My last name is Smith. It doesn't matter how unique my name is (it isn't), there's already been other people registered for my desired email addresses wherever I go, just by the fact that there's so many Smiths out there.

What I did is create a gmail account to act as my official writing email. I use this one to communicate with publishers, agents (once I query), my critique group, etc. My email address is formatted:


So if my name was John Doe and I was born on September 23, it would be:

It looks a little ugly with the numbers, but people can clearly see that yes, my name is in the email address.

Sha'el, Princess of Pixies said...

so ... mine is

and my real name.

And this is bad?


Haste yee back ;-) said...

Since I'm training my new bird dog pup now, I've decided to professionalize my email as per Janet's request... here it is!

Haste yee back ;-)

(Pris likes it... she knows who loves her)

Kristin Laughtin said...

For everyone upset because they have a common name that may have been taken already, there are a number of alternatives.

Like K. Andrew Smith said, you can create an account just for querying agents, so that you don't have to replace your normal email. There are a number of programs that will merge all your email addresses into one inbox as well, so you don't have to check different email sites.

You can add numbers after your name.

You can do first initial + lastname.

You can add your middle name or initial.

You can add a period, hyphen, or underscore between your first and last name.

Yeah, it might be a little bothersome setting up an account at first if you have a very common name, but one or a combination of these ideas should help you find something that works.

Chumplet - Sandra Cormier said...

I have two email accounts -- one is my legal name @, and the other is my initials plus nom de plume @ They both go to the same inbox and I move them to other boxes accordingly. My kids have a convoluted series of initials and their street address. Their father, the IT guy set it up so no one would discover their real names.

For some reason, spam has dropped significantly with my provider. I only get ten or fifteen spams a day, combined. I used to get over a hundred per day.

Suzette Saxton said...

LOL! The clever names in your post really cracked me up!

Penny Manning said...

Errr...Aren't you telling spammers how to get past your filter?

I hear what you're saying...I already have about 8 emails, but I don't use my real name on the registration because computer hackers can infiltrate system computers and retrieve personal information (name, address, for instance). Because of spamming and identity theft, as someone previously mentioned, I don't offer up my real name unless it is to a government agency--scary enough.

I use Gmail but a month or so ago, I tried to register with an online forum and my Gmail address was rejected as a possible spam email. I had to use an old Lycos account to complete the registration.

Okay, so when I begin my rigorous trek into SeekAgentdom, I'll have to create a new Gmail account. Problem is, if I'm correct, since I already have an existing account, the new account will have my original account name (which, again, is not my real name), so the new address will end up something like:

-penny manning- Real first name & last

and Priscilla will kick me to the curb. I'm not interested in trying Yahoo or whatever else is out I suppose it's Outlook Express or nothing.

I'm not going to change my fictious account name for my real one so that every weirdo I might accidentally reveal that PRIVATE info to can potentially steal my name, figure out my password and a host of other problems that come with it. And by the way, to those who use their real birthdate along with their real name..that's a security issue and you're revealing too much information, as we say in the States, that's TMI.

Some people don't even realize that when they email someone, their real name shows up alongside their email address--not something many people are comfortable with in this day of identity snatching.

But, like I said, I do see your point and thanks for the tip. So if I query you and receive no response, I'll assume Priscilla ate my email...but be warned, you might be missing out on that one bestseller and you'd have Priscilla and yourself to blame when that person lands in the lap of your competition....

You know, Agents, Editors, etc. are making things difficult, and some of you guys are really so picky, that I can see why people go the self-publish route. I really can. If I had the loot, I'd consider it to, unfortunately for me, I prefer the tried and true avenue much better, but if things like email addresses being devoured because they don't match the sender name and other such annoyances are to become industry standard, then I'll have to forget about publishing my novel and sell it in chapters like Charles Dickens and other old-timers used to in their day. Maybe, it would be more money in the end, anyway....Penny

SundaySoup said...

How's this for irony. This morning I found an email in my spam folder from a magazine editor. Yep...her name didn't match her email by a mile. Obviously using someone else's email address.

emeraldcite said...

Gmail is free. Set up a professional account with your first name / last name (or something equally professional if it is taken) and change your gmail settings to forward to your fancy-smancy address.

For example, send your queries from

In your Gmail account, click on "Settings" and then on "Forwarding and Pop/IMAP."

Toggle the "Forward a copy of incoming mail to" and then type in your fancy-smancy address.

Finally, click on "Save Changes."

Now, you'll get a copy sent to your fancy-smancy address any time something comes into your professional sounding gmail address. And it keeps a copy in both locations.

Use your professional email only for submissions and that'll help keep the spam out.