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Lessons from the spelling-challenged spammers

by Shari Graydon

You wouldn’t know it from reading this blog, but I get half a dozen notices a day that someone is eager to post a comment on the site. I read every one, hoping against experience that I’ll discover a genuine response to the blog’s content. Instead, I’m more often met with pharma promos,  foreign alphabets or a pathetic attempt by some spammer to convince me that the poorly-written generic comment is inspired by my own posts.

Here’s a classic:

“hello I was luck to approach your Topics in bing your post is quality I get a lot in your website really …”

And here’s the relevance to op ed writing: Editors are as time-strapped and email-inundated as the rest of us. They often decide in under two minutes whether or not your submission is on its way to the reject pile. Accurate spelling, appropriate punctuation and intelligible grammar are the absolute minimum expected. But beyond that, crafting a paragraph or two that succinctly tells the editor what you’ve written about, why you’re qualified to comment and why she should publish it in her pages now, will also set you apart.

Making your pitch as thoughtful, lively and concise as the piece itself, and doing so in a way that tells the editor you’ve written this expressly for her readers — and you pay enough attention to the paper or online content to know what they read — is critical. Editors tell me they get dozens of ill-conceived, long-winded and completely unpublishable rants. Don’t let a small error, generic greeting or poorly worded opening sentence allow someone to mistakenly classify you as spam.

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