Monday, January 14, 2013

Monday Musing - Email: Good, Bad or Ho hum?

Good morning!

As a writer and as someone who does a lot of self-promotion, I get a huge amount of email. I hate to say it, but in an effort to save time, I tend to delete a lot of it. I suspect a lot of us do the very same thing.

But is it a good idea?

I decided to make an effort to find out.

One item, a list from an author's forum on LinkedIn, was a cry for advice about using a free website. I decided to do my good deed for the day and let the person know my opinions and what I've had told to me over the years -- that free websites, especially the ones with ads running alongside or underneath your lovely brand is a mark of an amateur. When I logged in to respond, however, I found that the original posting was over 9 months old and had drifted from free websites to web design. I have a lovely and talented web designer (Rae Monet) so clearly my opinion is slanted to hiring a professional.

The next email I decided to view was from a group of talented and 'savvy' authors that I get in digest form. I cruised through until I saw a poster's name that I recognized. She was promoting a blog interview with another author. I decided to check it out because I thought there might be some questions I could use for some of my interviews. The questions were pretty standard and similar to ones I use (I think that means I need to change mine up a bit, lol). The interviewee had some pretty prosaic answers but nothing too unusual or too entertaining. In other words, she wasn't too memorable. She did have a great excerpt from her novel. I know how it feels to have a guest spot and feel like no one has been there, so I left a comment telling her I enjoyed the excerpt.

The last email was a promotion for a blog that involved writing techniques. I'm always a sucker for learning more so thought I'd stop by and see what it had to say. This one was great! It involved describing what your characters could see in the dark and how you can verify that with some careful research. I don't know if I've ever made the mistakes this author recounts but as a reminder of what a character can actually see in the dark...this was a tremendous article. I'm glad I read it.

So what did I learn from the day's excursion into email limbo?

Some groups are perhaps not the best means of communicating with our readers or even with other authors if your post is going to bounce around months after you make it. I'll have to watch LinkedIn for this sort of thing (yes, I know it came back to haunt us because someone recently replied to the original post or one of its responses).

If you're guest blogging, a great excerpt is wonderful but...I believe a writer needs to promote herself, not just her books. Seriously. The writer will be around promoting other books after this one. So she/he should be entertaining, personable, charming...whatever it takes to make herself stand out from all the other bloggers. In other words, make me remember YOU, not just your latest tome. If I remember you, I might just buy that book with the great excerpt. And if it's as good as the excerpt and if you're as memorable as you can be, I'll be on the look out for your NEXT book. That's how sales are made.

The techniques post was great and a kind of public service for writers...much like this post is ;-) Will it convince me to buy his/her book? Probably not. But I will remember her/his name. That's the key to have your name become familiar (in a good way) to readers and authors (who are also readers). So, in my opinion, the technique article was successful.

I hope you'll find my observations helpful.

Have a Blessed Day!


Lyn Horner said...

Lynda, you offer some very true insights. Email eats up so much time and often doesn't add a a single book sale. Yet, we don't want to snub any fans or other authors. Kind of a darned if you do reply and darned if you don't.

Lynda K. Scott said...

True, Lyn. I guess we just have to be selective about what we read or reply to. I know I can skim through email rather rapidly but I'm always afraid I'll miss something truly important.

Jacqueline Seewald said...

I appreciate your thoughtful comments. I also get a great deal of email and try to be responsive. But of course it's impossible to respond to every request. I agree that our name or "brand" is really important to put out there. Like you, I've written many novels. I would like readers to see my name and then read my books.

Shelley Munro said...

I had to laugh because I'd just finished going through email. (I deleted most of it) Since I enjoy blogging, I pick a few that come through my email each week to read, which is how I arrived here.

One of my pet peeves are one word/sentence interview answers. We're writers and we owe it to ourselves to put our best foot forward and shine. Writing is our business, and if we can't be entertaining/interesting then maybe we need a holiday :)

Lynda K. Scott said...

Hi Jacqueline, thank you! Yes, it is impossible to respond or reply to every email. It would be a never ending job ;-) I think most people understand that...especially if they get tons of email, lol

Lynda K. Scott said...

Hi Shelley,

Oh yeah. I've had a few of those and it drives me insane! You're absolutely right, we have to put our best foot forward and shine. A yes or no answer just won't cut it.

Karen Duvall said...

I know what you mean about skimming, Lynda. Our email inboxes are flooded with lots of great and not-so-great stuff every day. It's often hard to choose which links to click. I do think it's extremely important that we make the titles of our articles and blog posts compelling enough to attract readers. Most of the time they're not very special, or they appear to be the same-old same-old when they might actually be pretty great.

I get about 100 emails a day, so I obviously can't read them all. I also check out twitter and have found links to great articles there. If I come across anything I find helpful, I always share a link to it on twitter and facebook.

Lynda K. Scott said...

Hi Karen, thanks for adding to the discussion. I agree that Subjects that are either compelling or actually descriptive are extremely useful. I'm like you. I get over 100+ email a day and many are digest form so the number of individual email is multiplied. I scan the subject lines looking for those few that might interest me and move on if they don't catch my eye. Sad but true.