What to do when people unsubscribe from your #author email list and why it is OKAY

Let’s address the elephant in the room. Email unsubscribes. Yup. I’ll be that one. I don’t care what anyone says, if done right and if it’s your cup of tea, author email lists work. At the end of the day, everyone’s journey is different so none of us are in the position to say for absolute certainty what works and what doesn’t work for someone else.

That said, IF you are a fan of the email list (I don’t refer to them as newsletters….I prefer email list), check it.

Not everything about being an author is peachy. Email unsubscribes feel like silent rejections and sometimes confusing because you don’t always know why the person left. Unsubscribes can leave authors feeling abandoned, especially if the person was a long-time member of the list. All kinds of thoughts go through your head.

“What did I do wrong?”

“Am I providing value?”

“Does my writing suck?”

“Do I suck?”

Did I email too much? Too little? What happened?”

The good news is that whether someone leaves your email list or your blog, it is not a bad thing. In 2019, we are not taking losses, we are taking lessons and there are tons of lessons we can learn from email unsubscribes. I hope this list encourages you and motivates you to push past that feeling of confusion and rejection.

  • Don’t subscribe people to your list without their permission.

I’ve personally never done this and I don’t understand it but please don’t let this be you. There are laws against doing things like this. Never, ever add anyone to anything without that person’s permission. I don’t care if it’s a Facebook group or email list, get permission first. When you let people subscribe on their own, they can unsubscribe whenever they want and do it all without you being sued. But if you subscribed someone without their say so, you can be sure they will unsubscribe. While there’s nothing wrong with compiling a list of supporters and emailing the old school way (directly), we live in a different time. You need a track record that shows proof this person agreed to get emails from you. You need permission. It is illegal to add people to your list and email them without permission. Do not grab emails from blogs and websites. Choose an email opt-in form and let people subscribe on their own or create an opt-in form of your own using google docs but just get permission. Don’t get sued. I recommend using one of these opt in forms:

  • Mailchimp
  • Mailerlite
  • Convertkit
  • Don’t take it personally.

If the subscriber was legal, and the person decided to leave, the most important lesson you can learn from this is not to take it personally. We don’t know why that person is no longer interested, and it doesn’t always have to have anything to do with us. People have their reasons for subscribing to a list/blog and not everyone is clear what that reason is. If someone mistakenly thought your list would offer something that it doesn’t, they may unsubscribe because it’s not what they thought it would be.

  • Never respond to an unsubscribe.

Resist the inclination to ask people why they left. Unless they have reached out to you, do not send them follow-up emails. If they unsubscribed from your main list, they probably don’t want to keep receiving emails from you. Again, don’t take the unsubscribe personally. One apple don’t stop no show (and that’s grammatically incorrect on purpose), just keep grinding.

  • Quality over Quantity: You don’t have to have a gazillion email list subscribers to be relevant.

With email lists, remember it’s more so about the quality of your team. It’s better to have 30 or 40 committed people who are eager to support your work and read your books than 2,000 who won’t lift a finger to give you so much as a piece of advice. You ask a question and hear crickets. I have only about 172 subscribers to my email list. (I say email list because I don’t like to refer to them as newsletters *yawn*), and I am more than okay with this. Of course, I’d like to grow (who wouldn’t?) but I am in no rush. It’s challenging enough managing the subscribers I already have. I’ll wait patiently. Always remember quality over quantity. It’s probably easier to manage 30 or 50 subscribers than it is to manage 200 and 300 starting out.

  • Resist the urge to vent your rage on your favorite social media platform

Again, don’t take it personally. Email unsubscribes are like bad reviews that only you see. Just as it is not recommended to discuss the bad review, it is also not recommended to discuss the unsubscribe. We are all human but venting about these things on social media (this includes the blog) makes you look like an amateur. Accept this person has decided they are no longer interested in your content (for whatever reason) and move on. People come in and out of our lives for a reason and we just have to accept when the season is over. Don‘t make it bigger than it is.

  • Remove and Renew

Don’t be afraid to lose people. It may even be necessary to unsubscribe people yourself that you see are no longer interested. Sometimes people subscribe to email lists for the wrong reason. Maybe they believe they would receive something, and the emails turned out not to be what they wanted. But there will also be people who won’t unsubscribe. They’ll just ignore you and delete your emails or they may just ignore it without acting. In any event, it’s a good idea to do a good ole cleansing occasionally. Delete some people. Don’t be so thirsty for high numbers to your own detriment. If they aren’t active, it doesn’t matter, and you are deceiving yourself. Every 2-3 months I clean my list. I go through and delete people who have not been active. Have not been opening emails, clicking links, responding to questions or participating in any way. Their presence is irrelevant. I love them, but my emails are clearly not their cup of tea and they shouldn’t be forced to drink it. They must go.

  • It takes time

Writing is a business and like all businesses, it takes trial, error, consistency and time to build. We may have been born with gifts but no one was born knowing exactly how to execute them. No one woke up with the skills to hire a team or produce excellent products. Similarly, you don’t know how to manage an email list except through practice and hard work and even still people will unsubscribe.

This woman makes enough money to know what she’s talking about. If you aren’t following her on IG, you should be.

 

I used to transcribe to the same practices of some “gurus” who said to only email once a month. While I understand why you wouldn’t want to email too frequently, you have to do what works for you. It’s a personal journey first. So I followed my own path and now email whenever I have news. The truth is, it’s hard to stay connected to anyone you don’t speak to for months at a time. The email list can be an important source of support if you want it to be. Or, the email list can be just another social media account you update to tell people about your new books. *Yawn.* Truth is, there will always be someone to unsubscribe. The real question is, who cares? People unsubscribe from our lives all the time but we can’t stop working just because people leave. People unsubscribing from the list can be a blessing as it teaches us what works, what doesn’t and how to better connect with our audience. People unsubscribing from our list is not even the real problem. The real problem is learning how to connect with our audience. If we do our jobs well, we don’t have anything to worry about.

  • One door closes, one door opens

Every time someone unsubscribes from my list, someone new subscribes. That’s the fun thing about it. When one door closes another always opens. Just because a few people unsubscribe does not mean more won’t come. I’ve been successful in keeping my numbers steady because I am always blessed with a new subscriber whenever someone else leaves. When unsubscribes do happen, now I just smile knowing someone new is on their way and hopefully, they’ll find value where the other person did not. The end of one relationship is the beginning of another.

Helpful Tips:

  • Ask your email list questions to discover what they want.
  • Let your readers in a bit on who you are. Write stories, give updates not shared anywhere else, showcase your personality, e.g.
  • If possible, use a domain email address as your from address instead of gmail. Ex: yourname(at)yourdomainname(dot)com.

Reminders:

1. Don‘t take the unsubscribe personally
2. Don‘t subscribe people without their permission
3. Never vent your rage about it on your favorite social media platform
4. Quality over quantity
5. Recognize the growth that comes with removal and renewal
6. Remember that it takes time to build anything of substance
7. and that when one door closes, another always opens

For more email list building tips check out one of the most popular posts on this blog:

7 Things I Learned About Email List Building.

Advertisements

Yecheilyah’s 2nd Annual Poetry Contest: Poets, Please Check Your Email if You Entered

REMINDER: POETS WHO ENTERED THIS CONTEST. PLEASE CHECK YOUR EMAIL ASAP. CHECK YOUR JUNK AND SPAM FOLDERS. IF YOU’RE USING GMAIL, CHECK THE PROMOTIONS FOLDER. WE NEED THE REQUESTED INFORMATION FROM EVERYONE WHO ENTERED THE CONTEST AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. THE FROM NAME IS YECHEILYAH AND THE SUBJECT LINE IS THANK YOU.

THANKS SO MUCH!!


For the rest of you, be sure you are following this blog as well as my other social media accounts for updates on this contest! Your first time here? Not sure what this is all about? Visit the original post HERE.

My Top 5 Email List Building Mistakes

I believe we Indie Authors have to stick together people and that is why I am sharing some of my top email list building mistakes. Before I jump to the conclusion that email lists don’t work, I am going to identify some of the things I am doing or have done wrong. Before finding solutions, we must identify the problem. Sometimes it is not that something is not working, we are just doing it wrong.

Problem#1 – Randomly Asking People to Sign-Up

When I started focusing on building my list, I didn’t pay attention to who was signing up. I just wanted the numbers up. I had heard the hype about getting email list subscribers and how helpful it was to authors. By just asking people to sign-up, people subscribed who were not part of my target audience. This means that when I came out with a book, they weren’t taking action. It wasn’t because they didn’t like me or thought I was a bad person. It was probably because they didn’t read the kinds of books I wrote!

Lesson: I should have been seeking targeted readers (readers who like my genre/topic) and not everyone. Just like a target audience isn’t everyone, my email list is also not for everyone.

Problem #2 – Hard selling to my list

In other words, selling my books directly to my email list. I just thought, what’s the point of having an email list if you can’t sell your book to your readers? Isn’t that what the list is for? To help authors to sell books?

bitmoji-20180426030336

Lesson: I should have been nurturing the list with reading material, short stories, etc, giving away copies of my current works and hoping for reviews (this helps if I’ve learned lesson one).

Problem #3 – Not Focusing on Core Fans

I was too busy trying to build my list and increase my numbers that I didn’t pay attention to the few people that were engaged and reading and responding. These are my core fans. They are the ones who will buy, leave reviews and communicate consistently.

Lesson – Not everyone will respond and interact with my list. This is the hard part and I am still trying to figure how to get people to simply communicate with me. But, there are core fans and when broken down, this is a more realistic number far as readership is concerned. It starts to matter little how many people are subscribed if the people subscribed aren’t readers interested in the kinds of books I write (again, goes back to number one) or intrigued enough to interact with me.

Problem #4 – Not collaborating with other authors in my genre

This one is kinda not my fault. Kinda. OK it is, whatever. The point is, I am finding it difficult to find Indie Authors of black historical fiction. I hate to have to add the “black” part but there is a difference between the historical fiction I write and the historical fiction novels that come up when I put Historical Fiction into Google or Amazon’s search engine. There probably shouldn’t be a difference but it is. I have to put in Black Literature or something to find books like mine. Needless to say, I am not interested in just any historical fiction but historical fiction as it pertains to the African American experience. While Romance and Urban Fiction writers are abundant, I am having a hard time finding Indie Authors to connect with of my genre. I participated in a writer support thread on Instagram for example and stopped when I realized the people following me were Romance writers. I enjoy Romance and I support Romance writers but it doesn’t really help me on the flip side.

bitmoji-20180426025707

Lesson: Find more writers in my genre? Interact more on Goodreads maybe? I don’t really know what to do here. Where are y’all at? Lol.

Problem #5 – Not making use of Giveaways (using my book or books in my genre so that the readers who enter are my targeted readers)

I have not been taking advantage of giveaways as much as I know that I should. Giveaways work when it comes to building an email list. I know this for sure. I don’t like to keep talking about my books over and over again. I do not think it works very well. Probably because I assume people have already made up their minds as to what they choose or choose not to support and I don’t like the idea of begging people to support me (which is the image I get when I think of constantly pushing books in peoples faces).

Lesson: I should use giveaways more as a way to build my email list and promote my books. Update: I forgot to mention that when it comes to giveaways or contests in which people subscribe to your email list as a form of entry, for a contest or giveaway to be successful, the prize must be relevant to your niche. And since the goal is to get new subscribers, what you give away should attract people who are interested in what you write about. And as always, I am talking to myself here. I am trying to learn this too.

And there you have it. My top 5 mistakes. Now, don’t make them!

bitmoji-20180426025841


Enjoy Black History? Literary Fiction? Historical Fiction as it pertains to the Black experience in America? Poetry? Young Adult / Coming of Age stories? Subscribe to my email list HERE. (get a free book when you do!…I also dabble in Sci-Fi!)

The Men with Blue Eyes Returns!

MWBE - short

Some time ago I started a short story on this blog called The Men with Blue Eyes and I have decided to finish the story in my email list. The story is a short Sci-Fi Fantasy loosely based on another book of mine. It is about a group of angels called The Watchers who come to Earth to possess the bodies of men. Tina, a young attorney, claims her nephew was abducted by one of the blue-eyed men two years ago and that they are the cause of his murder. After seeing a therapist and taking medication, Tina has since lived a normal life. But when she spots an unidentified man at a local club and members of Tina’s former case come up missing, it forces her to revisit the traumatic life she had hoped to leave behind.

I hope to continue on with the story but have decided not to finish it on this blog but to finish it in my email list. If you like it, I may decide to turn it into something more but we won’t discuss that right now. Right now I am just writing it for fun. Let’s not cloud it with the talk of work lol.

If you are interested in reading more of this story, you may subscribe to my email list HERE to see what happens next! I will begin feeding the first few chapters next month. BUT if you subscribe now I’ll send you the first 4 chapters, revised and updated!

Remember

Photo by Tamarcus Brown on Unsplash

Remember that you get access to exclusive information when you sign up for my email list!

SIGN UP HERE

Here’s a quick tutorial:

  • Access to my books for free
  • News and Writer links / resources
  • Updates on my projects / books I am reading
  • A chance to promote your book using my platform (email me your book cover and buy link after signing up. I have stopped doing this but I am ready to begin again.)
  • First notice of events, sales, and special announcements
  • Personal reflections not shared on this blog

To be clear, signing up for my email list is not the same as signing up for this blog. Signing up for this blog gives you access to every post I publish and a chance to connect with me and my writing. Signing up for my email list gives you access to anything I do not share on this blog so you won’t just be getting the same information. What you will get as a member of my email list is exclusive pieces of inspiration, free books and resource links you won’t find on this blog.

 

Peace and Hair Grease

Yecheilyah

More Indie Publishing Tips

Some great tips from Don!

Author Don Massenzio

TandEFor me, indie publishing has consisted of a lot of trial-and-error to determine what things work and what things do not. Unlike other types of sales and marketing, as an author it is not only about selling books, but, to some degree, you are selling yourself. This is something I’m extremely uncomfortable with, but I’ve found some ways to adjust my approach to make it more tolerable.

This list consists of some of the things I’ve tried that have worked for me. Your mileage may vary.

Hard sell concept.

  • Blatantly asking people to buy your books doesn’t work. Instead, I’ve tried to use my blog, Facebook, and other social media to try to convince people that my work might be worth checking out. I do this by trying to entertain or teach with the material I post.

wordofmouth

  • Word of mouth is extremely important. Your existing readers are your best salespeople. I like interacting with them…

View original post 426 more words

7 Things I Learned about Email List Building

I’ve learned so far that there’s a lot more to building an email list than getting people signed up. I’ve had an email list for years but I feel that only now am I starting to really understand how it works. A little. OK so maybe I just have an inkling of an idea. Who knows but it’s a start.

While having one is great, building an email list and the upkeep is not easy! OK, well, it’s not hair-pulling difficult but it does take some tending to. I don’t want to scare anyone away. It’s not brain surgery or anything like that but I guess that’s why they call it “building”. You don’t build anything over night. There are lots of steps and parts to keeping an email list updated and valuable.

(Click Here to read 7 Common Sense Reasons You Should Build an Email List)

Here are some things I learned, or I should say I am learning, about the email list:

  1. More Subscribers Mean Little to Nothing

At first, I was concerned with getting more subscribers. I mean, that’s a start, right? Yes and no. Yes because of course I want readers. No because that’s just the beginning.

I learned that getting people to subscribe, as challenging as it can be, turned out not to represent as much of the process as I’d thought. While getting subscribers is great, you should know that it’s never a guarantee that people will:

  1. Stay subscribed to your list (people can unsubscribe anytime)
  2. Open the emails you send
  3. Click on your links
  4. Support your product / service

One of the first lessons I am learning in my continual quest to better understand list building is that subscribers mean little to nothing in the grand scheme of things. It is not so much how many people are on the list so much as it is how many of these people are engaged: open emails, read the content, click links and offer feedback. Are they part of my target audience or just taking up space? Are they at all interested in what I have to say?

I’ve learned that an email list of only ten people on it in which eight are engaged and supporting is better than a thousand who can care less.

2. The “From” Address – Use the name that is the most popular and noticeable to your readers

When setting up an email list, part of the process is to enter a “From” Address or the name you want to appear as the person the email is coming from. For the two years or so of sending emails through Mail Chimp I used Literary Korner Publishing, my business name and all was well.

Toward the close of last year, I decided to do something different. I stopped using my business name and used my name, Yecheilyah, instead. I wanted to see if my open and click rate would increase. It did. It worked because it is the name most familiar to my readers.

3. Email – Use a business email address

Another thing I started off with is using my personal Gmail account as the email linked to my list. When setting up an email list, you’ll also have the option of choosing where the emails will come from / people can reply to. In the beginning, it was my Gmail account. I have since changed this.

Toward the close of last year I changed my email. It required an upgrade but it was worth it. It does look more professional but I’ll be honest in saying I didn’t do it for how it would look. I did it to make sure my emails aren’t going into my subscriber’s spam folders. As a result, my open rates did increase. I didn’t get a snapshot so you’ll have to take my word for it. I’ll remember to snag some images next time.

What’s a good business email address?

Your name (at) your domain name dot com (yourname@yourdomainname.com)

4. Headline – Choose a headline that will speak to your list

I didn’t start off paying much attention to my email list headline. If people opened the email they opened it. If not, oh well. That’s how I saw it.

And then I grew up…

I am not doing this for my health which means that it does matter if people are finding value in the content or not and if I am seeing a return as a result. So, I started to pay more attention to the Headline of my emails or the title that people see that tells them what the email is about. It didn’t occur to me that if this didn’t speak to them there would be no reason to open the email! Yikes.

Somehow, I’d taken it for granted that people, though signed up, are not obligated to open and read the content. I thought about blogging and how important the title of the blog post is. (Click Here for 5 Creative Ways to Headline Your Blog Post) I decided to apply this to my list.

Just like someone must be interested enough to click on the blog and read it, someone must also be interested enough in the email headline to open the email and read it.

The headline is the first clue to the reader on what the email is about. If it is something they can care less about, they will not open the email. I have noticed that putting more thought into my email headlines has increased the open rates as well. Meaning, more people are opening the emails and clicking on the links. (A decent open rate is anywhere from 30-55%. It means that most of your list is seeing every email. But do not expect everyone on your list to be engaged. I’ve learned that even if only 20% of my list is communicating with me, that’s good).

5. Dividing the List – Sub divide your list by interest

I really didn’t want to do this. The only reason I can think of is laziness. I didn’t feel like splitting anyone up and sending more than one email.

And then I grew up…

I have recently began the first process of dividing my list and I feel good about it so far! The feedback alone told me a lot about the people who open and read my emails and gave me an idea into what it is they each want. Right now, I am only working with two lists and it was interesting to see who fell into which group.

Monthly – My monthly email list is compiled mostly of people who have either known me for years (at least more than two years but also as long as ten), enjoy getting everything summarized into one list, or who I know have busy schedules and don’t feel like being bothered with me more than once a month. They know me too well.

Bimonthly – My bimonthly email list, which is much smaller, is compiled mostly of people who have met me recently (anywhere from one week to one year ago), open my emails regularly and give the most feedback, are interested in emails about inspiration and motivation, and who like their emails smaller.

I loved the process of dividing them up! It was fun and helped me to focus on every single subscriber and to get to know them on a more personal level based on their interest.

6. Less is More – Limiting the Creative Mind

I consider myself a boring person outside of writing. But when I am writing and putting together emails I love colors and images! I love doing different things and experimenting. I love being silly and using my cartoon avatar. However, I have since pulled back a little with this.

Maybe I’m just getting older or I just know better but I cut a lot of that out. My avatar remains but outside of this I’ve limited the number of images used, switched to a basic theme with a white background and toned down the colors. While I’d love for my email to look like a magazine spread, images increase the possibility of spam as well and too much going on is distracting. The white background on the other hand made everything pop and it is easier to read.

7. Removal – Taking people off your email list

What? You mean I did all that work to get people signed up and now I have to…take them off?

Yea, pretty much.

It took my numbers down a notch but I feel that the cleaning will do me some good. I am not interested in having people subscribed who really don’t want to be there or who are just there to spy, just for the sake of numbers. That’s never been me. One thing I am sure everyone should do every now and again is to clean up their email list.

This means to go through the list and either (1) reach out to or (2) remove altogether those emails belonging to people who never open your emails or interact with you at all. I imagine they see the emails and trash / spam them but for whatever strange reason they don’t unsubscribe. Or maybe they subscribed because you had a contest or offered something for them and now that they got it they’re no longer interested. Whatever the reason, it’s their business. Growth is not just about gaining. It’s about losing too. I believe trimming the weeds will help me to grow and I will soon have twice as much support as I’ve had to lose.

The point is that I want people on my email list who want to be there. Not people who are just there to spy or be nosy. They hate my guts but they open every email. That doesn’t make any sense. I also don’t want people on my list who never open a single email but they won’t unsubscribe. I don’t understand why they are there.

Even when people unsubscribe themselves, I’ve learned this is not a bad thing. It literally does me no good to have people around who don’t want to be. This is a business not a hobby. Whatever is not contributing to growth has gotta go. Don’t be afraid to get rid of dead weight.

When I look at my list today I feel good. I know that the people subscribed want to be there and if they ever feel bored, I hope they will just unsubscribe. That’s just the realness of it. You win some, and you lose some but you live. You live to fight another day. Yes, that’s from the movie Friday. It doesn’t have anything to do with this article but I thought I’d leave you with a chuckle. Or not.

—————————-

Interested in being part of my crew? They’re great! Emails go out once or twice a month based on your preference. CLICK HERE to sign up and thank you!