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

9 Authorpreneur Habits You Can Start Today

Usually, I present author tips for new authors but this is not really a new author tip. This is more so for those authors who’ve been publishing for a while and want to level-up their writing career. Also, these are not rules, must-haves, should-haves, writer commandments, should-dos….you get the point. I call these tips because they are nuggets and tidbits I’ve picked up along the way that may help you. In the end, everyone must find their own way. I just hope I can help in that journey by sharing what I’ve learned. Will this be helpful to you? Maybe not. But also, maybe it will.

What is an Authorpreneur?

Authorpreneur means merging the concept of being an author and an entrepreneur. Typically, an author’s book stops selling after their family and friends have bought it and then it swims in the Amazon sea of unread books. Most authors starting out will probably not sell more than 100 books. This is a real bummer considering the amount of time, emotional investment and money this author may have put into the book. Going from Author to Authorpreneur is not just about writing books and publishing them on Amazon. For most Indie Authors, Amazon royalties will not be enough which is why I think it’s so important to develop more entrepreneurial habits. Indie Authors must start to think about ways of earning money that will produce long-term sustainable income.

“Indie Fiction writers don’t fail at writing. Indie Fiction writers fail at starting a business. – Anne R. Allen

We are living in an age where you do not need to go to college to start a business and you do not need to be signed by a publisher to be a successful author. That’s why authors who are entrepreneurial and run their book publishing like a business are the authors that tend to be successful. Here are nine Authorpreneur habits you can start today:

Promote Your Books Offline Too

Something I have ventured into myself, get into the habit of promoting your books offline, not just online. There is an entire community of people who are offline. By neglecting them you are leaving money on the table. We can do radio shows, events, bookstores, book readings and a ton of other face-to-face activities that will help us to expand our brand. Social media is vital to an Indie Author’s career and very necessary. That doesn’t mean, however, that we should neglect other ways of networking and making money. Get out of your comfort zone and go talk to people face-to-face. As an introvert that is what I have had to do. I have had to get comfortable being uncomfortable. You will be nervous but by surrounding yourself with people who are a level up from where you are, you will see signs of your own growth.

Offer a product or service related to your book

I had a hard time coming to terms with this myself but I learned that you can’t be afraid to charge for your services. Yes, times are hard but that’s why your service is not for everyone. The people who need you and can afford you will invest in you but first, you must have something of value to offer. This product or service can be connected to your book in some way, but it must exist. You can become a motivational speaker or offer a service for something you do well. The book is the start, but it is just the beginning.  What do people need that you can provide? You may think charging for your services will mean that people won’t want to support you.

I’m not gonna lie to you. Some people won’t support you. There will be those who don’t think it’s worth it or that you’re valuable. There are also those who don’t trust you. They trust your free services but they may not value you enough to pay for it. That’s okay because charging means that you are reaching a certain group of people. These are people who see your worth, the value in your product/service and who can afford you. Also, those who do want to support you will when they can but they won’t complain about you. They may not have the money but they do understand your growth. Bottom line: You can’t talk butterfly language with caterpillar minded people. The truth is that free does not always mean valuable. Charging for a service increases the value of the product or service and produces a spirit of commitment from the client to follow through.

Dont spend a whole lot of time measuring your growth by numbers that are not representative of actual Sales

Checking your Amazon stats will drive you crazy, especially when Amazon’s algorithms is funny acting. Your Amazon ranking does not necessarily mean that you have made sales so dont hype yourself up too much or get down on yourself. I sold more pre-orders for Even Salt Looks Like Sugar than I did with I am Soul but you can’t tell by the ranking. I made it to number seven on Amazon’s ranking with I am Soul. Meanwhile, Even Salt Looks Like Sugar didn’t rank well at all. Shouldn’t it have if I sold more? My point is, your Amazon ranking or number of reviews does not always mean book sales so get out of the habit of measuring your success by what other people are doing. I’ve seen plenty of authors with less than 20 reviews do great things and make good money. The level-up is about results and real progress, not perceived progress. Look at your efforts and check to see if those efforts are producing actual sales, which nobody will see but you, instead of rankings that everyone sees but may not be representative of the truth. A good example of this is Alice Walker’s new book “Taking the Arrow out of the Heart.” At this writing it only has 3 reviews, but it is also a best seller.

Write a Book Business Plan

Serious business people have business plans to help them to map out the goals for their business. Creating a Book Business Plan for every book you release is a fun and helpful way to create a roadmap to help guide you through the process and to identify your goals for each book. The good thing? You can create this plan at any stage of the process. I am creating one right now for my new short story. It’s never too late to begin.

A business plan is a written document on the plans, goal, and overall creative vision of the business. It is what you plan to do and how you plan to do it. A Book Business Plan helps you evaluate the possibility of a new book idea in an objective, critical, and unemotional way. It provides an operating plan to assist you in planning your book release realistically and improves your probability for success. But you don’t have to create a boring and complicated business plan. You can take elements of the business plan and apply it to the pre-launch, launch, and post-launch strategy of each book that you write. Your business plan really just needs 7 Basic Elements:

1. Name your book
2. Write a Log-Line for your book
3. Write your book summary
4. Book Marketing Budget
5. Book Marketing Strategy
6. Publishing Timeline
7. Executive Summary (In a business plan, the executive summary is first but it helps to write it last for your book plan.)

Put Together an Author Media Kit

About 95% of Indie Authors don’t have a media kit which means that you can quickly rise above and stand out from the rest with yours. An Author Media Kit is a major marketing package that helps influencers to learn more about you and your work quickly. It ensures accuracy in news stories, helps people to promote you and your book and is free publicity (beats paid Ads).

7 Key Audiences Who Will Access Your Media Kit

  1. Journalist – Broadcasters, Talk Show Hosts,
  2. Bloggers – Easy access to photos bloggers can use, social media handles
  3. Reviewers— Amazon reviews in your kit
  4. Retailers
  5. Individual Buyers
  6. Event Planners
  7. Anyone Who Wants to Promote you or Your Book

One Key Goal of the Media Kit: Make these people’s job easier. By making their job easy, they are going to promote you and your book.

Purchase Your ISBNs

Get into the habit of purchasing your own ISBNs.

I know there’s a big debate in the Indie Author community concerning whether to purchase an ISBN number. I am not going to get into all of that. You can’t tell people what to do with their money. What I will say is this:

ISBNs are expensive, so I wouldn’t stress out if I can’t get one for every book. But, if you can afford to do so, and if you’ve already created your own company, it looks more professional for you to own your ISBNs and is a level up from what everyone else is doing. With your own ISBNs your name or your company name will be listed as the publisher of your books. As an Independent Publisher with your own ISBN, you can publish under your company name, go to a different printer if you choose, open your own account with major companies and opt for national trade distribution. You can even create your own team of publishing experts.

This post is not about doing what everyone else is doing. This post is about the level-up.

Get Legal

Speaking of ISBNs, get into the habit of legalizing stuff, starting with your name. Legalize your business or Author name. You can create a business name or register your author name as an LLC.

You can file the paperwork easily through Legal-zoom under an LLC, Sole Proprietorship, or S-Corporation (please Google these terms for further understanding on what they are). Or, you can just get a DBA. A DBA is a doing business as name that gives you the opportunity to legally write and conduct business under your author name. This will really give you the feel that you’re in business. You will be able to open a bank account in your business name, acquire a debit card, and do so much more. Sure, you can just set up a PayPal account but having a business bank account will take you to a new level of business. You can even upgrade your PayPal by setting up a business PayPal account that is connected to your business bank account. You can then apply for a PayPal debit card (which is free) which gives you another avenue to access your payments directly from your PayPal account. With a PayPal business account, you can purchase a PayPal Here card reader and accept payments on the go!

Website

Having a website for your author business is one of the most basic but professional things you can do. Even if this is just your blog it helps to have a website where people can access all your work in one place. To learn more about the difference between a blog and an author website and if you need both, see a recent post here.

Your website should be clean, well-organized, and not changing in design every three months. For blog websites, be sure that you have a clear follow button, contact page, about page, and visible social media widgets. Make it easier for people to find and follow you.

Business Cards

Get into the habit of carrying business cards around with you. You never know who you’re going to meet!

The truth is that people throw business cards away so I wouldn’t spend a lot of money on business cards. Keep it simple and professional and give your cards away sparingly. While you may have bookmarks that match your book covers, your regular, standard business cards—the ones you’ll pass out on the go at meetings and bookstores—should be simple, easy to read and clean. It should not have any major designs that distract from the important information, should include your name, business name, phone number, email address, website, and social media handles.

This does not scratch the surface I know, but I hope these basic tips can give you the push you need to put yourself in position to level up your writing career and go from Author to Authorpreneur!

bitmoji-20180426025841

3 Rejection Letters Indie Authors Receive

I didn’t intend on posting again today but one of my favorite authors posted something to her IG that sparked something I had to share. As you see above, this author is Bernice McFadden and this is her sharing the rejection letters she received for her novel Sugar. I have this book as well as her novels This Bitter Earth, Glorious and I’d like to get my hands on Nowhere is a Place and The Book of Harlan but I digress. Needless to say, the writing is on point. Long story short, you all know that Sugar has gone on to do very well despite the 75 (yes, seventy-five…let that settle) rejection letters. For Indie Authors, we may not be looking for publishers, but we have rejection letters too. I want to encourage you not to give up when you get one:

Negative Reviews – One of our most obvious rejection letters is the negative review. While all authors, no matter how they are published, get negative reviews, for the Indie Author it can feel like the ultimate rejection. Not from a publisher or agent but from the people who we slave so hard for, Readers. When a reader rejects a book it can really put a damper (who says that?) on an author’s mood. But, think about being rejected 75 times. Would you have tried for the 76th? The next time you get a bad review, think of McFadden and how important it is not to quit on the vision. If McFadden had given up, there would be no Sugar.

No Reviews – I came into the game (for lack of a better term though I hate using it. This ain’t a game lol) late because I did not start publishing my books with Amazon in the beginning. I also did not have much insight or people around who could help me to understand this growing industry. That said, reviews weren’t very important to me (neither was Amazon for that matter). However, we are all aware by now how important book reviews are to Indie Authors. But what if you don’t have any? Or very little? This can feel like a real let down and crush an Indie Author’s mood. Especially when their peers have over one hundred and they only have one or two. I am not saying to look at what every one else is doing, not at all. But I’d be lying if I said no reviews on a book doesn’t feel bad. We’ve all been there so let’s just keep it all the way real. No reviews can feel like the ultimate rejection. Honest reviews help to prove that an author’s work is worth reading which means that none can be a real let down. A real rejection. I tell you to think of McFadden’s 75 rejection letters and ask yourself if you were her, would you try again? Would you still want to write if you had 75 bad reviews? Sheesh. That can make one depressed! Lol. But, I am showing you that it’s the same thing for Indie Authors who are their own publishers and thus rely on the social proof of readers to help people to see that they really aren’t bragging about themselves.

No Sales – And of course, need I not leave out the ultimate rejection letter for Indies, no sales! Nothing screams rejection like no one buying your book. Does that mean you should stop writing? Of course not. My first novel is full of mistakes (which is why I took it off market for now lol) but if I had not published the first book, mediocre as it was, there would not have been a tenth. My point is, just keep writing and keep trying. You know you are close to the mountaintop when everyone starts to fall off. When people start giving up, that’s when you’re close. When you feel like giving up, that is when you should push the hardest. It means you are almost there. I am not saying this to sound all “cliche”. I am saying it because it’s real. My husband was just telling me I am too hard on myself and I’d like to extend the encouragement your way. Especially since we didn’t have a “No Whining Wednesday” today 🙂

So, there you have it. Three Rejection Letters Indie Authors receive. When you get one, think of McFadden’s 75 rejection letters. That had to be depressing at some point but she kept at it and so should you.

Do you know of any more “rejection letters?” Tell us about them! What was the most heartbreaking of your rejection letters? How did you recover from it?


Don’t forget that there are tons of people willing to help to spread the word about your awesome authorness! Including me. My Introduce Yourself Interviews for authors will pick back up next week. However, I am in need of authors for August! It’s a free opportunity to let us get to know more about you and your books. Click Here to learn more. Again, it’s FREE and I must say, the Introduce Yourself features do very well in views. Many of them are the top viewed on this blog which means these authors get a lot of shine! All genres welcomed. (Those of you who have already been featured, if you have updates, new books coming out, let me know so we can do an update post).