Sunday, May 02, 2010

A Rant!: You KNOW You Wanted to Hear About Your E-Mails!

I am feeling a rant coming on! You might as well benefit from it.

For the sixth time in a week, I received e-mail from authors (all six were different authors!). I could tell they were authors by their e-mail monikers, but didn't necessarily know who they were from their address or the subject line. Still, being the little bluebird of light that I am, I open them. And there I find a Web address. That's all. Just a Web address.
Now, if I were that person's sister, I might click on a link like that.

But here's the thing:

Links sometimes carry viruses. Ouch!

Another Ouch! I don’t read much of anything unless I have an inkling that I will learn something, be entertained, or be able to use the message in an article or this newsletter. There were no pitches in these e-mails, nothing to indicate why I should open it. Studies show that most people are like me in this regard. They don’t even buy books without a good reason!

If you are guilty of this kind of thing, even if you're only sending something to your relatives who think you are talented and brilliant, stop now. If it's worth the time to send an e-mail, it's worth writing at least a one line pitch about what someone is getting.

Another Ouch! Some of these e-mails didn’t use blind copies for their list, either. It's only good etiquette not to expose your contacts e-mails for spammers to see. When I get follow-ups to this same e-mail from people who click on the reply all button, I get even more annoyed.

Mind you, I'm not annoyed because people are trying to promote. I'm not annoyed even if the e-mail feels spammy. I'm annoyed because this mail lacks common courtesy.

Thus, If you've been doing something vaguely related to this, know that it is mostly a waste of time. Your relatives all have your book or they don't read the genre you book is written in. Your editors, radio hosts, and other promotion contacts won't open it because of possible viruses, lack of time or because they’re ticked. So they won't print it. I doubt if they did open it, they would know what the author wanted them to do with it.
And then there are those subject lines! Arghhhhh!

So here's my plea! Direct. To the point. But with a pitch so the recipient knows if your message is a media release, a query, a submission, or a personal note. Also it wouldn’t hurt to give the recipient just a hint at what it’s all about.

To avoid these kinds of faux pas that cause more bad will than good, please read a book on promotion, preferably one written for authors. You may be missing some of other refinements like asking what else you might do to help your contact. Sure, I want you to read The Frugal Book Promoter: How to Do What Your Publisher Won't (or reread it) ( but any similar book is likely to help.

Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of This Is the Place; Harkening: A Collection of Stories Remembered; Tracings, a chapbook of poetry; and two how to books for writers, The Frugal Book Promoter: How To Do What Your Publisher Won't and The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success. Her FRUGAL book for retailers is A Retailer’s Guide to Frugal In-Store Promotions: How To Increase Profits and Spit in the Eyes of Economic Downturns with Thrifty Events and Sales Techniques. She is also the author of the Amazon Short, "The Great First Impression Book Proposal". Some of her other blogs are, a blog where authors can recycle their favorite reviews. She also blogs at all things editing, grammar, formatting and more at The Frugal, Smart and Tuned-In Editor .

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