Thank you to Asha G. Kumar, host of The Writer Talks, for having me on!
Check out Part One of this two-part interview with yours truly. In this first part, we talk about the inspiration behind my first forthcoming Urban Fantasy/SciFi/Speculative Fiction novel, The Women with Blue Eyes, my belief in aliens lol, and my latest poetry collection, My Soul is a Witness. In part two, we dig deeper into my journey as a writer, my advice to other writers, Black History, and you know I had to recite some poetry!
I have slacked on uploading poems to YouTube but I’m back on it. Listen to new uploads “Addict,” and “She is,” and be sure to subscribe for notification of more poems. (Courage and On the Self-Care Movement have also been added.)
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:
Before you abandon your blogs to turn up tonight (tee hee), I’d like to introduce our schedule for this year. First, I’d like to thank and welcome our newbies and our die-hard supporters, the people who like our every post and share on social media. You guys are awesome and I do not take your contributions to the growth of The PBS Blog for granted. If you are new to this blog, please be sure to take this time to look around and familiarize yourself with the place. There are four years worth of material here to help you get to know me better and my writing.
Bloggers and Blogging
If you are not sure how the blog works or if you are thinking of starting a blog of your own, I invite you to visit the Blog Tips page HEREwhere I have archived my tips on blogging. I highly recommend you skim through them if you are new to the WordPress platform and are thinking to start a blog of your own (new writers, blogging is a great way to connect with readers!)
Writers and Writing
If you are a writer (especially an Independent writer) and you are looking for encouragement, resources or a better understanding of writing from an Independent/Self-Publishing perspective, I invite you to visit the Writer Tips and Resources page HEREwhere I have archived my tips on all things writerly and links to resources from others (particularly those more knowledgeable in the field.)
I will publish reviews of books I’ve read to this blog again. I have not been as consistent as I was in 2017 (because of amazon‘s constantly changing review policies and my constantly changing schedule) but I am back on it dagone it. You can view my new policy here. (Does not apply to books I read on my own for leisure, just review requests.)
2018 has been a year of self-reflection, self-understanding and focus. This means that I intentionally focused on myself. Not in a selfish way but in a way where I can better understand me in order to help you. Long story short, in 2019 I will be refocusing on my services to others, armed with the fresh revelations that have come from getting to know myself better. I want to do more for aspiring authors, new bloggers, writers and the like. I am excited and motivated with the drive and desire to serve.
Now, let’s get to the point so you can get out of here.
While I have segments going on throughout the week to keep this blog afloat, this is not a niche blog. Meaning, I do not just post about one thing. Do know this schedule does not include any random, off topic posting I may do when I just feel like writing.
Everything starts back up next week, 1/7 – 1/11
Introduce Yourself Author Interviews – I will keep Mondays open for author interviews. To learn more about how to get featured on this blog, CLICK HERE.
No Whining Wednesday – No Whining Wednesday will continue with quotes and empowering notes that help to keep you from whining, criticizing, or complaining! Learn more about NWW HERE (scroll down for the archived articles or follow the No Whining Wednesday tag).
Throwback Thursday – I miss how we used to jam ya’ll! Throwback Thursday will be in full swing next week. Throwback Thursday is when I post old school music videos to the blog. I have 3 categories so everyone gets a lil something something from it.
1. Throwback Jams (old school music the 80s on back)
2. 90s Throwback Jams (jams from the 90s, obviously)
3. and Early 2000 Jams (music from the early 2000’s)
Black History Fun Fact Friday – Throwback Thursday Jams and Black History Fun Facts are the most popular on this blog so they aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. Black History Fun Facts will return in full swing. (I have written tons of Black History articles on this blog that should keep you busy reading if you are new to PBS. CLICK HERE.) I noticed we dragged a bit in 2018 so I need to step it up in 2019. There’s been a lot of talk about The Year of Return (1619-2019 makes 400-years for Blacks in the America’s per captivity) I may just start the year off talking about that.
Not included is poetry because I don’t have a special day for this. I will continue to publish poetry pretty much whenever I feel like it. If you would like listen to my poems, subscribe to my YouTube Channel HERE. I also host an Annual Poetry Contest, founded in 2017. We have had two amazingly talented winners so far and some outstanding runner-ups and it’s almost time to get things started for our 3rd Annual Contest!
The PBS Blog now contains affiliate links. This means should you purchase anything from these links, I will earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. This allows me to keep this blog up and running. I will never link to something I haven’t personally used or disliked so don‘t be shy, click on the book cover to this month‘s featured book (Michelle Obama‘s Becoming) in the sidebar and thank you for your support!
Submit a poem on self-love / self-care in some way, subscribe to the email list (you need to subscribe so you get updates on the contest) and then email your poem to: yecheilyah(at)yecheilyahysrayl(dot)com
If you’ve been wondering what Mailchimp’s Single Opt-In is all about and whether to go with it or keep your double opt-in, I’ve found the article for you. Kirsten Oliphant has the scoop:
Single Opt-In: Essentially when someone enters their email into your form and clicks “I Want It What Way!” (because “Subscribe” is so 2011), they are automatically subscribed. Right then and there. The end.
Double Opt-In: When someone enters their email into your form and clicks “Send Me All The Things!”, they will receive an email asking them to confirm. If they do not click, they will not get an email from you. They are not, in fact, a subscriber.
Single opt-in is not legal all over the world. (True story.) The un-apt-ly named CAN-SPAM Act (which says you CANNOT, in fact, spam people) doesn’t care about opt-ins, surprisingly. You can single opt-in all day long legally in the USA and many other countries.
Just not Germany.
I’m sure there are others, but Germany has super strict laws on privacy. So if someone from Germany signs up through your single opt-in form, you’ve broken their laws.
Are you really going to be hunted down or fined? Probably not.
But do you want to be breaking international laws when you send emails? Um…probably not.