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.

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…

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Email List – Book Promotions

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I really wanted our Throwback Jam to be my last post of the day, but I couldn’t (not) tell you this.

I mentioned once before that I am starting to promote books in my email newsletters or email list. After drafting tomorrow’s 31st Issue (which I am very excited for you to receive in your inboxes. It is literally LOADED with the information you WON’T find on this blog!), I thought I should go ahead and spread the good news. My emails go out on the 18th of every month and I didn’t want you to be left out!

If you’re an Indie Author and you’d like a little bit more exposure for your books that you don’t have to pay for, I have added a Book Promo section to my emails. It includes the author’s Book Cover, Link, Blurb, and a brief endorsement from yours truly. Now, for me to properly endorse your book, of course, I must have read it. For this reason, promoted books are books I’ve reviewed.

However, I am willing to make an exception for those who’d just like more eyeballs on their work. All you should do is send me your book cover, link, and blurb. Of course, you’d have to also sign up for my email list if you want to see how your book is displayed because it will otherwise kind of defeat the purpose (Subscribers receive a free copy of Beyond The Colored Line, the most famous of the Stella books. Though Book Two, it can be read as a standalone and its yours free).

Books I’ve reviewed I will be able to pretty much brag about whereas books I have not reviewed I can only go so far. For this reason, please ensure your book cover art is decent enough for me to have something to promote if I have not read your book. No, my covers aren’t all that, but they are decent. That’s all I ask. I’m being picky about the covers because everything I represent is, at the day’s end, a reflection on me. I am asking that you give me something that won’t embarrass us both and that will increase the chances of your book cover being clicked on and your book, bought. Excellence is a priority.

You’re probably wondering what I can do for your book?? I’m pretty open about the method to my madness and I can tell you no, it is not a guarantee that people will click on your book cover and purchase your book (is it ever?). However, I will say for now that my email list is modest. This means that I can guarantee you that your book will not get lost. I can guarantee you that your work will be seen and that my readers are pretty darn supportive of what I recommend, many of them asking me what’s next on my reading list (I love them!). While there’s no guarantee, visibility is always a good thing.

I’m doing this because I know how hard it is for Indie Authors and I want to do my part. That’s why it’s free. In return, I only ask that you subscribe to my list. (Real partnerships benefit both parties). It will also help you to benefit from the promotion if you can receive the emails as well.

  • If you’d like me to promote your book to my list, please subscribe to my email list Here. And send your book cover, blurb, and link to yecheilyahysrayl@literarykornerpublishing.com
  • If you’d like to take it a step further and have me to review and promote your book, please register your work Here. I will review your book info and inform you on whether or not I agree to review the book.

Disclaimer: Please read through my Guidelines carefully before subscribing to my email list specifically for Book Promotion. While I’d love your support of my email list, I don’t want anyone to feel some kind of way if I have to decline your book. It will do us both a disservice for me to review books of which I am not truly invested.

Note that registers from this point will go into the 2017 year since I am already backed up. Usually, reviews post to this blog every Friday but I’ve had to push them back a bit because my family is planning a camping trip and we won’t be home next week. BUT, for those of you who signed up, I’m good on my promises and I will get them out (I’m going to push to publish one next week before we leave, time permitting. I have at least a few to get out before this year ends). Basically, if I agreed to review your book, I will do so, period. Word is bond.

7 Common Sense Reasons You Should Build an Email List

  1. Direct Communication

Many Indie Authors don’t see the immediate need for an email list until after a book is born. That’s because after a book is published we come to see the pertinent role emails play in driving traffic to our blogs, websites, and increasing revenue. According to The Direct Marketing Association, email marketing on average sees a 4300 percent return on investment (ROI) for businesses in the USA and according to The WordPress Beginner Guide, in our business, email lists get 10 times higher conversions than social media campaigns. One reason is because of direct communication. Also known as Electronic Mail, e-mail has been around forever as a way to directly communicate over the web.

While it’s unrealistic to think all (place number of subscribers here) of your blog followers are going to be reading your content and providing feedback, the hope is that at least half of them are. How do you know? Sure, someone may like your blog post and comment but that’s not a genuine system of measurement. A blog can have lots of followers with only a handful of views or lots of views and only a handful of feedback, and so on down the rabbit hole that is blogging. But then, ahh but then!

But then there’s the email list. Briefly, the email list is not the same as someone subscribing to your blog. When someone follows our blogs via email, they are opting in to receive email notifications of new blog posts. This is not an email list. This is someone following your blog. An email list is literally a list of email addresses and names of people who are highly interested in your content and thus gave you permission to add them to your list. The good thing about the blog is that many of those same blog subscribers can easily turn into email list subscribers. The email is essential for gazillion reasons but mainly, here is a direct line of communication. You can even monitor the open rates of your emails and see which of your subscribers are opening your mail consistently and which of them are not.

  1. Your email list subscribers are your real supporters. This means that they are the people who will actually invest money into your business

I’m not saying that the people who follow your blog or who support you already won’t support you because they’re not on your email list. I am also not saying that every email list subscriber will purchase your product(s) or open your emails. Not at all. What I am saying is that emails are personal. People get flooded with tons of emails a day and for them to give you permission to send them one is a BIG deal. How is it that some authors have people waiting for their next book? Fingers on the Buy Now button? There are many reasons but one of them that I’ve come to notice personally is the email list. I’ve noticed that many of the people on my email list are the same people who put their money where their heart is.

When people give you their email address, they are giving you permission to contact them and to connect with you on a deeper level. As a result, they are more than likely to actually purchase your next book. Not to say you should build one just for that reason, but email lists really narrow it down far as who is really true about their support and who is just doing lip service.

  1. An email list is the only communication asset that you actually own online.

I’m sure we’ve heard this a million times but its worth repeating. Of all the faith we put into Facebook, Twitter, SEO, and other things, email is the only true source of electronic communication. If all of these social networking sites come crashing down, email will prevail.   True story:

Before I really got into social media, before Facebook and before blogging I would send email shouts out to my email list of family, friends, and people who bought my books before. Many of you already know because you are one of them! Remember those days I’d email you on the release of my poetry books? Ahh, the memories.

Anywho, back to the story.

I didn’t know anything about landing pages, Lead pages,  Mailchimp or any of that. Though I’m still learning, I didn’t know a thing. Nada. Zip. Targeting those people already in my email was just common sense. It was the only way I knew to get the word out. I was green to selling books online but sometimes simplicity is wisdom. So, in not having all of the big brain marketing insight, I did the only thing that made sense: I sent promotional shouts out to my email contacts and was unknowingly doing what many email marketing services have you to pay them for.

The only difference is that I was doing it the hard way. It was  my first real stab at getting serious about my work. Once people started to email me for orders consistently (back then I was strictly paperback), I decided to create a website for the first time.

  1. Social Media is the traffic driver to your email list.

One thing I’ve admittedly not done is take as much advantage of my social media pages as I should have. Social Media is not about selling books directly, in my opinion. Obviously, we all want to sell more books online (don’t be phony, you know you wanna sell more books!) but consistently pushing buy my book links gets old eventually. Social Media is about building relationships and making connections. New relationships = visibility and reach. Visibility and reach = readership and readership is the platform.

  1. Feedback

When people subscribe to your email list they can respond to your emails just by clicking reply and give you valuable feedback. Why is it valuable? Remember, these are your real supporters. They can let you know what works and what doesn’t, helping you to create better and consistent content that targets your audience interest.

  1. Every Successful Business Has One

Name one successful business, entrepreneur or otherwise, that does not have an email list opt-in or use the old fashion style of emailing in some capacity, in general? I’ll wait. There are two reasons for this that I’ve identified in my experience dealing strictly with emails (again, before I got into social media and blogging):

#1: Email is the best form of marketing. It’s low-cost and allows companies to easily and effectively spread information about their products and services, both to existing customers and potential ones.

#2:  Our email subscriber list is the real deal. It lets you know if your business is growing or not and for Independent Authors this is massively important. Of all of the Facebook Friends, Twitter Followers, IG followers, AND blog followers your email is the truth. Why is it the truth even more so than your blog numbers? Because its targeted. Meaning, these are the group of people who are specifically interested in your content. Really interested. They didn’t just follow your blog but they took it a step further and subscribed to your personal email list.

If I had 8,000 Twitter Followers (which I don’t lol hee hee), and 1,000 email subscribers, you know what? My real number is closer to that one thousand! This isn’t to say the 8,000 aren’t genuinely interested but that these one thousand are highly likely to support versus the 8,000 because they are already tuned into the content on a personal level. You can even break it down further when you  look at open and click rates. If 1,000 people are subscribed but only 500 open the emails on a consistent basis  then those 500 are even more likely to support. But…

It’s less about the open and click rates and more about the conversion rates. That is, how many of those supporters have we converted into buyers, and how can we  aim our marketing strategies and focus toward the activities that’s going to not just increase open and click rates, but also generate revenue. Again, this isn’t to say its all about the money (because its not, its actually all about the relationship and connection) but keeping this in mind will remind you why you should never buy an email list. Apparently that’s a thing? I didn’t even know what buying an email list was but apparently instead of building a list on your own you can buy one. I’ve even read that you can rent email lists! That’s just lazy. Click Here to learn more about buying email list and why you shouldn’t because I’m getting a headache just thinking about how stupid that is.

But I digress…

So you see, email also makes it easier to track interest and thus, create relevant content:

“According to research conducted by the Direct Marketing Association, 93% of email users have opt-in relationships with a consumer brand, as opposed to 15% on Facebook and 4% on Twitter (according to Chris Brogan, president of New Marketing Labs).”

The point is that email lists remain one way to make it easy to gauge the reach of your support system. Interestingly enough, with all of the advice (and carefully strategic opinions) out there I’m surprised there isn’t more talk concerning how to build and maintain the email list.

  1. An email list gives you the opportunity to connect with people who are not active online or who are technologically deficient

“It’s true that email is fighting with other services for online communication, but it is still ubiquitous in a way that other social media networks are not. If you want to reach the majority of your audience, email is still the safest bet.”

– Smashing Magazine

I talk to my husband all the time about the differences in how I saw technology when I was just a student in Chicago versus being an adult running my own business. Back then Facebook didn’t exist, (Myspace didn’t even exist!) and I didn’t know anything about blogs. Granted, I’ve taken computer courses but although I enjoy technology, I was at a time in my life where I wasn’t into the social media thing. It was just a different world for me on so many levels. However, even though that was years ago, I am always surprised to discover how many people are still not into social media.

Aside from updating their Facebook posts, you’ll be surprised to discover that a lot of people are just unaware of how to browse the web in its basic form, and not just browse the web, but are aware of its many uses. This is where your email list can make a huge difference. Back in the day when I didn’t know much about the online scene one thing I did have was email. It was a big thing back then and guess what? It still is!

“It’s worth noting that people tend to be members of multiple social media websites simultaneously, with varying degrees of involvement, but they usually have only one or two active email addresses. The email address remains the unique identifier online; you use it to log into almost everything, so it would take a lot for it to become obsolete.” (Smashing Magazine)

People who don’t spend their lives on Facebook, Twitter, and other social outlets will have an email address for sure. (I’ve also found that people who are not online are more interested in getting hardcopy, paperback books as well as opposed to digital. It’s always wise to have your books in both formats).

Well, I am off to find something else to do but I sure do hope these tips have helped you. So, go on. Start that email list!

But wait, EC I’m not an expert…

Secret #1: Worried about what to include in your email list? Don’t! You don’t have to know EVERYTHING. No one person knows everything but we all know in part. If you’ve ever been good at something or done something that got you positive results, then you’re an expert at that thing and don’t let any so-called professional tell you any different. Expertise just means knowing more than the person you’re targeting and no one should know more about you than you.

Tidbit: You can always just start with updates as your first few emails if you’re not sure what to provide to your list. Or you can release free exclusive chapters of works you haven’t done yet or just talk about something fun like how you got started writing. Just make sure that you’re offering something of value.

Nugget: Just like with your blog posts, compose your emails in a conversational manner and avoid “preaching to the choir”. Just be cool, calm, collective, and professional. People aren’t stupid so we don’t have to speak to them like they are. Your email subscribers are special and should be handled with care. One negative of emails is that they’ve been around so long that they are easy to ignore. People unsubscribe and delete emails everyday so when we can build an email list (no matter how small), our supporters deserve all of the value we can give them. Showcase your real self. OK wait, some of you shouldn’t do that! I mean your real polite self.  I like to keep my emails fun. At the same time, there is a level of professionalism that must be maintained as well. Obviously, we don’t want to just lose all common sense  ; )

Secret #2: As much as I didn’t want to, I recently upgraded my email. I now use my own personalized business email for my email list instead of my Gmail account. Here’s why you should too if you get the following message:

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In case you can’t see the words, it says:

“Subscribers with Gmail addresses might not receive Mailchimp campaigns with a Gmail from email address. This is because several free email providers have changed their authentication policies. “

What It Means

This means that if you’re using a return email address like Gmail or Yahoo and you’re also using an email service that has upgraded their authenticity policy (like Mail Chimp but not just Mail Chimp), Gmail and Yahoo may not allow those emails to go through because a lot of Spam users create bogus emails using Gmail and Yahoo email addresses (I know, boo). This may account for your low open rates as many people are probably not getting the emails.

*****

These secrets are usually reserved for my email list, but I wanted to give you the opportunity to see what you’re missing. I’m considering writing a memoir and you know what? Friday, my subscribers  received the first potential chapter! They are the first to see the unedited, raw, and uncut first chapter to what can become the book about my life (if I so decide). In fact, I’m releasing the first five chapters. (On my list? Didn’t see it? Check your email!)

I’ve talked some time ago about doing video tutorials and I’ve officially started production on my first video. I am releasing these tutorials to my email list ONLY so don’t miss out.

Just click on the image below to subscribe. You’ll be taken to my landing page where you can enter your name and email address. Easy Peezy.

Note: Entering your email means that you’re subscribing to my email list for more secrets, nuggets, tidbits, novel excerpts, sneak peeks, resources, spiritual and writing encouragement, the list goes on and on.

ATTN. I HAVE UPDATED THIS PART SINCE SOME OF THE INFORMATION, LIKE THE TUTORIAL SERIES, IS NO LONGER RELEVANT. TO SUBSCRIBE TO MY EMAIL LIST, CLICK HERE.

How To Choose Ebook Promotion Sites Worth Your Money.

Excellent bullet points. I especially like the point about how many books go out in each email. Lots of promo sites promise promoting to a large email list. Sounds good to have your book pushed to 55,000, but depending on the number of authors whose books are promoted in that same list, your book may not even be seen! I am still seeking to grow mine, but I also enjoy my small list. I know that the books I review and promote (I highly promote the books that I review) are actually being seen and not drowned out. Sometimes, less is more.