We are so excited to meet all the amazing poets who will be entering this year’s contest! Prizes include a $50 Barnes and Noble gift-card, promotion, and publishing in our 2nd Edition, 2020 Poet Magazine. Below are some tips and best practices for bettering your chances of winning this contest! (For the video version of this post, go to my IG account and watch the EcTV version!)
Make sure your poem lines up with the theme surrounding one of these words: Strength, Courage, Wisdom, Faith (Read the rules).
To qualify as entry you MUST subscribe to my email list. CLICK HERE to sign up. Then, go ahead and send your poem to email@example.com. Don’t rush to write your poem and forget to sign up for the email list. Last year’s winner got her poem in just before the deadline and won the entire competition so take your time and do it right. The best way to remember is to sign up for the email list first and then spend the rest of the time writing your poem. (Read the rules)
Deadline for entry is August 1st. Winners announced November 1st. (Read the rules)
Poems are judged based on ORIGINALITY, style, and how closely it relates to the theme. Poems cannot be previously published in a book or online and plagiarism is cause for immediate elimination.
Pay Attention to the theme: If you submit a poem that is not about Strength, Courage, Wisdom, or Faith in some capacity you put yourself at risk for elimination. Why? Because poems that don’t follow the rules are one of the first to go. My team has to read through a lot of poems and you don’t wanna make it easier for them to disqualify you by not…following the rules.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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:
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 postHERE.
So far I have provided four different resources for understanding GDPR. Again, the general understanding is that you don’t have to send out re-confirmations to your list as long as you’ve been obtaining emails legally in the first place. Just make sure your opt-in forms and privacy policies are clear and transparent. Derek Murphy’s article talks about GDPR as it relates to using email marketing for list building and giveaways. Check it out below (it’s #4).
Also in the podcast below are some great examples of how to word your landing pages. It is all about the permission to control and process data. You have to let people know exactly how you are using their information, is what I got from all of this.
Yess people! It’s that time! Time to reveal the guidelines to this year’s contest and our amazing prizes! Read on…
Yecheilyah’s 2nd Annual Poetry Contest 2018
Theme: Self-Care, Self-Love – Our theme this year is on self-care and self-love!
Submissions Accepted: Thursday, July 12th NOW– Tuesday, July 31st
*If your poem is ready, go ahead and submit it!*
Winners Announced: Wednesday, August 22, 2018
The poems submitted must be original work. This means that the poems must be written by you. If we find a poem that resembles any previously published poem in any way that poet will be disqualified from the competition. Poems must be your own work.
The poem must not be previously published in a book or anywhere online (including your blog)
The contest will be judged based on writing, style and how closely the poem adheres to the theme.
We are judges of the competition only. All poets are welcomed to enter regardless of race, religion, political views or location. All poems must be written in English and there will be no shipments outside of the U.S. In the event a poet wins this competition and their residence is outside of the U.S., any prize requiring shipping (if any) will be awarded in digital form. Ex. Ebooks instead of paperbacks.
All poets must be at least 18 years of age to submit.
There are no entry fees for this competition. Simply subscribe to Yecheilyah’s email list HERE and email your poem to enter. Anyone who subscribes only to unsubscribe before the competition is complete (any time before the winners are announced) will be disqualified for the win. Any subscription that has not been made before 11:59pm EST on July 31st will be disqualified.
Authors of the winning poems grant Yecheilyah of The PBS Blog and Literary Korner Publishing the right to publish the poems on her blog located at www.thepbsblog.com as the winning poem. Permission is granted upon entry of the contest for publishing to The PBS Blog. The poets retain all rights and copyrights of their own work.
Upon submission, poets grant Yecheilyah of The PBS Blog and Literary Korner Publishing the right to publish the poem in the Literary Korner Publishing’s debut online magazine. The poets retain all rights and copyrights of their own work.
Multiple entries to this contest are allowed. If submitting multiple poems there is a 3 poem max.
Entry is taken as acceptance of ALL of these guidelines.
Click on THIS link and subscribe to Yecheilyah’s email list. This will automatically give us your name and email address. Be sure to confirm your subscription is due to this contest by checking ‘yes’ next to “Is this a poetry contest entry?” on the form. *If you are already subscribed to my list you are halfway there! Just email me your poem*
Once you’ve subscribed to the list, please send your poem(s) to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Both of the above steps are needed for a poem to be considered submitted.
Submissions are accepted July 12thNOW – through July 31st 2018.
Winners are announced August 22, 2018 on The PBS Blog and across social media.
The grand prize winner of this contest will receive:
One $50 Amazon Giftcard (this will be a hard-copy gift card mailed to the winner within the U.S. Winners outside the U.S. will receive an ecard.)
Gift Card is nested inside a specialty gift box
Gift Card has no fees and no expiration date
Gift Card is redeemable towards millions of items storewide at Amazon.com
Why Hardcopy Giftcards:
For authors getting reviews, Amazon is strict about assuming manipulation when it comes to amazon e-cards, usually given away at contests. “If the author has ever given the reviewer a gift card, anywhere in the past, then all the reader’s reviews are considered “paid for” and deleted.” (Source: https://tracycooperposey.com/amazon-reviews-being-deleted/)
To help to protect any authors entering this contest, our gift-cards will be hard-copy and mailed, except in the case of winners outside of the United States.
Signed paperback copy of I am Soul poetry book by Yecheilyah Ysrayl (Winners outside the U.S. will receive a digital copy of this book)
1 Writing Custom Designed Journal and matching pen to encourage your writing journey!
Front page feature and publication to Literary Korner Publishing’s exclusive online magazine designed specifically for this contest, debuting this summer.
Promotion on The PBS Blog and social media (over 700+views weekly)
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?
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.
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!
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!)