Authors: Just stop the unsolicited advertising emails

You open your email and see 12 new messages. Scanning the subject lines, you note quite a few are unsolicited emails.

Highlight. Delete.

That is my solution.

It is incredibly easy to get on everyone’s email list as so many companies ask for your email address today. And by giving it to them, they seem to think you are giving them permission to email you tons of advertisements.

But there is another group that also seems to find no problem in sending unsolicited emails – or in the case of Twitter sending direct messages (DM) that are nothing but a pitch to buy their book. Yes, that group is authors.

I really can’t speak for others but sending me an email or DM about your book is NOT going to make me buy it. In fact, I often delete these messages without a second thought. (I received one from someone on Goodreads even as I wrote this blog. Delete – well, delete after saving a copy to be included with this post.)

emailIf I signed up for your emails or newsletters, this is fine. But just because I hosted you on MY site, doesn’t mean I want to hear about every new achievement. I host many authors whose books do not interest me at all.

Now I am all for promoting with e-mail – as long as the messages are wanted. Before you put someone on your email list, you need to ask their permission. You shouldn’t just take everyone in your contact list and start emailing them. This is a good way to turn off potential readers.

If on your website, you ask for emails to add people to a newsletter list that is perfectly okay. They chose to receive that newsletter. Just ensure that there is a way for them to be removed from your list if they should decide to stop receiving your notices. (The Can-Spam Act actually sets rules for commercial emails and requires recipients have a way to opt out of emails.)

There also is nothing wrong with including your books or blog links in your e-mail signature line – you can even have testimonials, a line from the book or the title of your latest blog in the signature line. Of course just remember that some SPAM filters will weed out emails with too many links in them.

I also get plenty of DMs when I follow someone on Twitter. Most are just a “Thanks for the Follow” message but often there is a sales pitch added to it. “If you like fantasy, check out my book.” Let me tell you it doesn’t work. I simply delete the DM without a second thought. I know others who will unfollow you if you send out this type of message.

DMs shouldn’t be used as a sales pitch. They are for private conversations and relationship building – not for marketing. Sending a DM as a marketing pitch is the same thing as those SPAM emails and will certainly get you ignored or unfollowed by many people.

I don’t have any statistics to back up my opinion that unsolicited emails and DMs don’t generate sales. But I know that no SPAM message is every appreciated or even read by me so if you are sending them out, please make sure I am not on your list.



Protesting a possible school boundary change

Over the summer, a friend mentioned that she heard there might be a boundary change that would affect where my kids go to middle school. Even though they are in elementary (kindergarten and second grade), I was still curious if this was a rumor or something that might happen.

I immediately emailed the principal, and even though it was July, he responded right away. He hadn’t heard anything yet but would keep me (and all the parents) up to date. He assured me that they would have a public meeting BEFORE any boundaries were changed.

Well, this September, it seems the rumors may be true. A new middle school is set to open next August. Currently, there is only one middle school in this area, and they will have to redo the boundaries. boundary mapNow my house is situated with pretty much equal distance from the Elementary School (EPE) and the Middle School (TMS). (It is .4 miles to EPE and .3 miles to TMS.) We are clearly in walking distance to both school. In fact, we walk daily to the Elementary school – even in the 100+ Texas heat. The only thing that causes us to drive is a downpour.

So the thought that they may take everyone from EPE and send them to the new middle school (by bus) seems crazy. But I know that school districts in other cities (and for all I know my city) have done this before.

The school district has asked for comments before their upcoming November meeting where they will propose the new boundaries. I wrote a 700 word letter and emailed it to them.

Basically, I sited proximity as the main reason for not liking the possible change. Really, we are so CLOSE to the middle school. It will be about a 5-minute walk. There is no way I want my kids bused to another school if they can walk to one that is essentially across the street from our subdivision. It would be a waste of resources by the school district to do this.

Another concern is what this could do to the appeal of our neighborhood to potential new residents. Surveys show that school boundaries play a role in home-buying decisions sixty percent of the time. If potential buyers look in our area, they may not want to move here when they find out their kids will not go to the middle school that is in walking distance of their home.

And my last argument focused upon the community feel that we have with EPE and TMS. Students from EPE often walk over for events at TMS. This would not work if they have to go to a farther away middle school, or if they do go for events there, they will have to be bused, which obviously is a more expensive option and one the principal may not be willing to forego.

It won’t be just my letter the district will receive. I (and many other parents) are urging others to write in and voice their opinions. Whether our wishes will be taken into consideration or not, I don’t know. However, I will most likely be at the November meeting. And if they propose this boundary change, I will be voicing my opposition.