As a rule, I keep my communications with my authors cordial and professional (I’m the cat). I try to avoid lengthy explanations or inquiries and try to keep things as simple as possible. If I find myself falling into the role of educator I stop to reconsider my approach. Taking time to drill down to the actual issue of a query can save much time and energy in advance. This being said, a dry, unemotional voice is not my aim, and I am fairly free with supporting comments and positive observations.
At times, when I get to know my author a bit better, the urge to insert humor starts to tickle my fingers. Almost invariably I resist the urge. There is just too much opportunity for a misread with humor. Also, if the relationship becomes too chummy, it may make more difficult, delicate communications harder to pull off.
Another temptation is to use emogees (emoticons) to clarify the intent or tone behind a query or comment. I resist this urge as well. If I need a graphic to clarify my intent, perhaps I have failed to write it correctly. Also, when I stop to reconsider, I often find that the impulse to use an emogee emerges from a sense of insecurity or self-doubt about what I am trying to suggest, request, or recommend. It becomes apparent that I need to reconsider or rewrite the query or comment.
There is definitely room in less formal channels of editor-author communication for humor and perhaps an emogee or two. For instance, humor may find a home in email or text messages that serve to check in with an author post project or to maintain a thread of familiarity with a client or when an author makes attempts to get to know you better, off project. But even here, I would tend toward professional congeniality rather than cafe camaraderie.
Here is an interesting post from copyediting.com about emoticons in editing:
Let me know what you think. I’m curious.