Emailing links and attachments to editors and producers

I talk about this quite a bit in The Blank Screen book because it’s a thing. If you’ve never had people sending you massive attachments you may not appreciate quite why it’s a problem. (For one thing, company mailboxes have to have a limited size because there are so many people on staff that it’s expensive to have a lot of space. One multi-megabyte attachment could make the difference and an editor will come in on Monday morning to an inbox that has stopped receiving any new emails after yours.)

Unfortunately it’s a thing that doesn’t have very clear answers. You should definitely wait until an editor or producer has asked you to send material before you do, but does that mean you can’t send anything at all?


Today you might reckon you can send a link to something, though. A copy of your script on Dropbox. A showreel of yours on YouTube.

Unfortunately, that’s a thing too. This is why I’m mentioning it today: I just got a reply to an email of mine and the recipient’s network had edited my message. I’d crafted this perfect opening paragraph and instead the first thing she read was this:

Warning: This message contains unverified links which may not be safe. You should only click links if you are sure they are from a trusted source.

I hadn’t intentionally sent her anything; I even had to scroll down to see what links I’d sent.

But there it was. I’d used a signature that included a little cartouche of links about me:

Writer: The Blank Screen, The Beiderbecke Affair, Doctor Who

I shouldn’t have done that. There was no reason she needed to know or that I wanted to tell her, I just used the signature because it also includes my contact details and we were arranging a meeting.

I don’t think you can avoid links today. But you can make them ones that work without having to work, so to speak. That recipient’s network prefixed my message with an ugly warning and others will actually block the message entirely. So only use links when you need to but then also make them immediately useful. For instance, I will sometimes include a link to the page about me on Wikipedia – isn’t that great? that there’s a Wikipedia page about me? – but I’ll do it in a particular way. I’ll say that there is this page and yes, I’ll include the link, but I don’t need the reader to click on it. I don’t even care whether they do: the function of that link is not to send someone to my Wikipedia entry, it is purely to advertise that I have a Wikipedia page about me.

So if you must have a link, find other ways to use it in case they never see it or never click on it. If you must send an attachment, make it one they’ve asked for. And not, please, a fancy graphic logo in your signature.

Tiny changes, big results

Yesterday, checking email on my iPhone meant scrolling down a list of mailboxes. Today, it doesn’t. One glance and I see if anything has come in.

If you only have one email address then I think I may envy you, but sanity requires me to have two. There’s the one I’ll cheerily post anywhere and everywhere, a business one that’s Then there’s what I’m afraid I think of as my real email address. I’m not hiding it from you, specifically you. If you email me at, you’ll get the reply from my real address. The real address is for proper people, you are most certainly a proper person.

The business one helps keep spam away from me, it also keeps business emails away from my main account so that I can deal with them together. Unfortunately, it used to also keep me away from the business emails. I would forget to read them because this is what it all looked like on my iPhone:

photo 1

You can’t even see that other mailbox. It’s one more slot down below Follow up: I had to scroll down to read it, so I didn’t. After missing two important emails – very important – I began training myself to make that scroll. Open up mail, swipe back from the Inbox to that list above, scroll down, see if there was anything unread in the other mailbox.

I got really good at doing this and I haven’t missed anything since. But it’s bleedin’ tedious. I know, there are worse problems. But last night I decided to have one more go at doing something about it. I’ve hit that Edit button (top right) before, this time I hit it again. And I got this:

photo 2

Defeat. Those three bars beside the top mailboxes, they’re grab handles so I can shove those ones up or down as much as I like. Within that band. There is an Add Mailbox button but, come on, I already have two mailboxes, I don’t want more and anyway, how does that solve my problem?

It solves my problem completely.

“Add Mailbox” there does not mean create and add a new email account, it solely means add one of your existing mailboxes to this list of them that goes at the top. I tapped Add Mailbox, it listed all I had, I tapped twice more and have ended up with this:

photo 3

All done. No opening, no scrolling, no swiping: I just pick up my iPhone, glance, and I can immediately see if there is any email at all for either of my accounts. It’s the tiniest of things but it makes such a difference that all day today I have been picking up my phone and thinking “Is that it? I don’t have to do anything more?”

If you’re wondering why my other mailbox is called “wg site bucket” instead of “”, it’s because that mailbox traps all emails that go to anywhere at all, my site address. See Why and how to lie about your email address.