Years ago, I learned an old saying in Latin class: Vestis virum reddit. It means “The clothes make the man.” Like it or not, people judge you by what you wear. If you dress in dirty, ill-fitting clothes, people will treat you differently than if you are wearing a clean, tailored suit.
While you’re judged by your clothing in the real world, you’re judged by your email address in the online world.
Imagine you received an email from two different authors. One author’s email address was firstname.lastname@example.org and the other’s was email@example.com.
Which author would you take more seriously?
Which would you invite to your podcast, blog, or bookstore?
I was chatting with a literary agent who received an email from hotgrandma54. Her email address was so unprofessional that he didn’t even read her proposal.
If you struggle to get people to take you seriously as an author, your email address may be partly to blame.
Your email address is part of your first impression. If you’re seeking a literary agent and a traditional publishing contract, it will be especially important for you to present yourself as a professional. If you’re an indie author, your professional email address will mark you as a serious author.
What mistakes should I avoid when setting up your author email address?
Mistake #1 Unprofessional Name
When you set up your email address in your email app, you’re asked to enter your name. Since many people rush to set up their email, it’s easy to overlook this step. But it’s an important part of your first impression. The name you type here is what people see in the “from” field every time you send an email.
Here are the common mistakes.
Avoid all caps and all lower case. Use title case, with the first letter of each name capitalized. If your last name has exotic capitalization like McNaughton or DeMuth, make sure you type it correctly. If you don’t, no one else will get it right either.
A Missing Name
Always include your last name. Having an email address name that is just “Frank” is fine for emailing your friends, but it doesn’t work for emailing strangers who don’t know which Frank you are. Your friends will know that the email from “Frank” is from you. But business contacts need to know that the email is from Frank Smith.
When you’re setting up your email, don’t use a clever username in the “name” field. “Longhorns Fan” might demonstrate loyalty to your team, but it causes confusion in business communications and makes it seem like you don’t take your writing seriously.
How to Check for Mistakes
The worst thing about these mistakes is that they can be hard to spot because you don’t usually receive emails from yourself. The only people who see this information are the recipients of your emails. You could have been making one of these mistakes for years without knowing it.
How do you know if you’re making these mistakes?
Send an email from your computer and from your phone to an author friend and have them tell you what they see. Better yet, ask them to send you a screenshot of what they see. Feel free to partner up with another author at AuthorMedia.social.
Mistake #2 Unprofessional Address
Choose a clean and professional email address. Ideally, your email address should be something like JohnSmith@gmail.com or AuthorJohnSmith@gmail.com.
Avoid cute or clever email addresses like Loves2Write@yahoo.com. You also want to avoid numbers because these can be hard to give someone over the phone. Is that Loves2Write or LovesToWrite?
Mistake #3 Unprofessional Domain
Some domain names are more fashionable than others. It’s best to use your own domain name.
The worst domain is famously aol.com, but you should avoid all Internet Service Provider domains like Comcast.com or Spectrum.com. These domains make you look unprofessional, and if you ever move or change internet service providers, you may need to get a new email, which is a massive hassle. A “free” email address is a way for your ISP to lock you into bad service.
If Comcast starts providing you terrible service, but you’re getting all your important emails at your Comcast address, it’s hard to switch to a different internet service provider. You might move to a region that doesn’t have Comcast, and you’ll be forced to cancel your Comcast address.
To use your own domain in your email address, you’ll need to pay a small amount of money, but the cost will be well worth the investment as you build your brand and present yourself as a professional.
For example, my email address is Thomas@authormedia.com. I like that email address because it makes it easy for people to find my website. They can see the domain is authormedia.com, so it helps direct people there.
There are many ways to get an email address that looks like firstname.lastname@example.org. I’ll walk you through the top four and give you the pros and cons of each. The good news is you may not need to pay any more money than you already are for a domain email.
How do you get a professional email address?
I use Google Workspace for email@example.com.
It used to be called G Suite. Before that, it was called Google Apps. The cost is $6.00 per month per email account, and you can have multiple addresses for one account. For example, firstname.lastname@example.org as well as email@example.com both come to my inbox. Sometimes those addresses point to my staff.
Google Workspace allows you to have unlimited aliases, which I like.
The Best Email Technology
Gmail is far superior to Outlook. Outlook has a weak search feature, and many Outlook users must sort their emails in folders so they can find them again. Sorting emails into folders costs hundreds of hours per year. Whole days are lost using Outlook.
No Need for Folders
Google runs Gmail, and the search feature is excellent. You don’t have to put emails in folders to find them. You just search to find them.
Easiest to Set Up
Most domain hosts have a button that allows you to configure Google Workspace. Usually, you only need to toggle a button with your domain registrar.
Integrates with Your Phone
Google Workspace is one of the oldest tools that offer this feature. They’ve been offering it for a long time, so it integrates well with your phone.
Works for Mac or PC
Google is also platform agnostic, which means it works well on Mac and PC as well as iPhone and Android. They’re not pushing you to one platform or another.
Comes with Google Work Suite
Google Workspace also comes with Google Drive, Google Docs, Google Calendar, Google Sheets, and Google Forms, all of which are useful for authors.
Since you’re the customer and you’re paying for the service, Google Workspace offers technical support over the phone. When you run into trouble, you can call someone to help you out, which is really important. If your email is broken, you can’t email the help desk.
The only thing scarier than a company whose slogan is “Don’t Be Evil” is a company that used to have that slogan and then got rid of it.
Google has your data, and they use your data for all sorts of things. They make most of their money, not by selling you $6.00 per month email service, but by selling advertising. That’s why they’re a billion-dollar company. They want as much data as possible so they can make as much money as possible from advertising.
Companies that make money selling ads don’t value privacy. They value data.
Out of all the solutions listed in this article, Google Workspace probably has the worst privacy protection because they don’t value privacy.
Even so, it’s still my favorite option. I like their technology. It’s much better than all the other options listed here. You can have an app on your computer that connects with your Gmail account in the cloud. The tech is great, and it’s easy to set up.
It’s probably the obvious choice for an Android phone user because it integrates quickly and easily with your Android phone. I’m an iPhone user, and it connects just fine for me, too.
You can learn how to set up Google Workspace Email here.
Microsoft Office 365
$7/mo ($70/yr) for Microsoft 365 Personal
You May Already Be Paying for It
Microsoft Office 365 Personal is the most expensive option on this list, but you may already be paying for it. If you are, an email address with your domain won’t cost you any extra. Many people pay for Office 365 because it comes with arguably the most valuable office suite.
Comes with Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint
I exclusively use Google’s tools, but Microsoft Word is a cool app for authors. Microsoft Office 365 Personal includes Microsoft Word, Excel, OneNote, Outlook, and PowerPoint. Outlook is still pretty rough, but there is a new Outlook.com that runs in the cloud, and I’ve heard good things about it. Microsoft is trying to catch up to Google in terms of email technology.
Even if you’re not writing your book in Microsoft Word, your editor may force you to use it because of the Track Changes feature.
Microsoft Office 365 also has phone support. You have someone to call or email if you need help.
Microsoft 365 has a complicated pricing structure. While I was doing research for this episode, I spent more time trying to figure out which version of Microsoft office 365 to recommend than I spent researching everything else combined.
Microsoft Office has a whole suite of personal, professional, enterprise, and business packages. Some of them overlap, but there isn’t a good chart on their website to show you what overlaps.
You’ll want to choose Microsoft 365 Personal. If you have kids and they need it for school, you could get Microsoft 365 Family. It’s a little more expensive, but you can use it on up to five computers. The other packages are $10.00-$15.00 per month range, which is not worth paying for if the only feature you need is the email address.
Lots of Upselling
At nearly every turn, Microsoft will try to upsell you on their products.
Mac Versions of the Apps Aren’t as Good
The apps inside of Microsoft 365 are not as good as they are for PC. For example, Excel for Mac is nothing compared to Excel for PC. Sometimes they don’t even offer their apps for Mac. Publisher, for example, doesn’t even run on Mac.
Microsoft Office 365 Personal is probably the best option for Windows users. I’m not a big fan of it, but if you’re already paying for it, then it’s definitely the cheapest option for your professional email address that runs through your domain.
You can learn how to set up Office 365 email domain here.
As an iPhone user with cute kids, I already pay for iCloud+ just for the photo storage feature that it adds to iPhone. In addition to photo storage, it also gives you the ability to have a personal email domain. If I wasn’t using Google, I could use iCloud+ since we’re already paying for it.
It’s by far the cheapest option on this list, which is shocking since Apple is known for having high prices. But iCloud+ is competitively priced.
Apple does not make money selling ads, so they value privacy more than data. Apple isn’t trying to collect lots of data on their users, but they are still a big-tech company.
Beautifully Integrated into Mac and iPhone
If you’re an Apple person and all your devices are Apple products, iCloud will fit right into all of your devices.
It comes with many other features you may already be paying for, like 50GB of photo storage for your phone.
Phone and Store Support
In addition to phone support, Apple also offers in-store support. If you have a problem with your phone or the apps or your email set up, you can schedule an appointment at the Apple store. You can take your Apple phone or computer to the store, and they will help you out.
Works Best if You Have Apple Products
If you’re planning to create a professional email address, iCloud+ is only cheaper if you already have Apple products. It doesn’t make sense to buy a $2,000 Mac laptop just to save $5.00 per month on iCloud+.
Weak Office Suite
Apple has the weakest office suite. Apple office tools aren’t included in iCloud+, but they’re not very expensive to purchase. However, Pages is weaker than Word, and Numbers is weaker than Google Sheets and Excel.
Apple computers do come with Keynote, a shining beacon of software excellence. It’s dramatically better than PowerPoint. With Keynote as the exception, the office suite with iCloud is not very good.
ICloud+ is the cheapest option if you’re already inside the Apple ecosystem, and you may already be paying for it.
Some people don’t trust big-tech companies with their email addresses. If you’re looking for high privacy, I recommend ProtonMail.
€6.25/mo (≈$6.92/mo) €75/yr (≈$82.45/yr)
Highest Swiss-Based Privacy
ProtonMail is based in Switzerland exclusively. They don’t have to follow the laws of all the other nations. If Russia demands that Google or Apple give them data, those companies might give up the data.
ProtonMail can say no to governments, corporations, and everyone because they’re based in Switzerland, which is famously neutral.
End to End Encryption (E2EE)
E2EE prevents third parties, such as big-tech companies, from digitally eavesdropping on your transactions and communication. ProtonMail is like the Swiss Bank of email.
Least Likely to Cancel You for Political Reasons
Because of their famous neutrality, you’re unlikely to be censored for political reasons.
Not Connected with Big Tech Companies
ProtonMail is not connected with any of the big tech companies.
No Office Suite
Proton Mail offers a calendar and a drive to store files, but other than that, there is no office suite.
Possible Foreign Currency Fee
Since you’re paying in Euros, you might have to pay an extra foreign transaction fee. Some credit cards charge the fee, and some don’t. Also, remember that exchange rates are constantly changing.
If you have support questions, you can get answers by filling out a form on their website. You can’t contact ProtonMail by phone, but phone support would only be helpful to you if you spoke German.
If privacy is your highest value, ProtonMail offers the highest privacy.
In order of privacy protection, ProtonMail is the highest. Apple is next, followed by Microsoft. Google is way down at the bottom. I don’t trust Google with privacy. The only company I trust less than Google is Facebook.
Avoid Cheap Host Options
Your web host and domain registrar may offer an email option at a very low price. Avoid these options. The email technology is weak and frustrating.
I find that authors who use those options hate the inbox so much that they end up not using the email address, which defeats the purpose of having a professional email address.
You spend a lot of time in email, so having good email technology is worth a few dollars each month.
If you’re currently using Gmail or Yahoo for your personal email, that’s okay. You can keep that address. It’s great for interacting with friends and family. In fact, many authors like some separation between their work and personal email.
To keep your sanity, keep your inboxes to a minimum of two accounts.
Your inbox is too important to use some frustrating, budget email solution.
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