View Full Version : Mailing Lists, News Letters, and Subscriptions: Right and Wrong

AW Admin
12-03-2015, 11:57 PM
First, I want to tell you a story. It's short, so bear with me.

I have an email account that I use only for communicating with AW members.

This morning, I had email from a member who I corresponded with last year regarding the member's registration.

Said member had provided my name and email address to the Goodreads site as part of a marketing plan for an anthology.

In other words, the member signed up on Goodreads with a goal of promoting books, and said "Sure!" when Goodreads asked the member to provide his entire email contacts list as part of his efforts to promote his book.

The member probably had no idea that Goodreads would then contact everyone on his contacts with an email address that was missing from their membership base and invite them to join.

A number of social sites do this; it's a way to increase their membership base. It always gives me pause, and I never allow them to access my contacts, because I'm pretty sure my eye doctor, dentist, and former students aren't going to like receiving what they will likely consider to be email spam.

Moral of this Story

Don't allow any social site, web service or online forum to access your entire email list. Contact people personally, even if you use a template.
Don't invite, subscribe or opt-in any email address or person without thinking carefully about the likely reception. Will the list or newsletter interest them? Or will you be perceived as an annoying, obnoxious and offensive spammer?
Don't invite, subscribe or opt-in any email address or person without there being a clearly visible way for them to opt-out, unsubscibe or remove themselves from the list or newsletter or subscription. The usual place for this is in the footer, at the bottom of the email, after your closing or signature.

When To Use Email lists, or Newsletters

When you have at least fifty people or email addresses that you have some reason to be sure they want to be contacted by you.
That reason needs to be because they themselves either asked to be notified when you have a new book, or an appearance, or they themselves chose to opt-in by subscribing.
Don't email them every time you make a blog post; email them either when you have something specific to say that will interest them, like a new book, a major award, or a list of appearances. I'm making a distinction between you sending them a newsletter and readers who click a link on your blog that indicates that they want your blog to email them every time they post.

Creating Lists and Newsletters

There are several services that allow you to create attractive html-based newsletters or mailings.

They include the opt-out function in the footer.

Most of them will require you to have a postal address in the email or newsletter; they are required to do this via various laws, in the U.S. and elsewhere. This is another reason to consider a rented mail box.

WordPress makes it very simple for readers to subscribe to all your posts, either via a feed reader or via email through WordPress.com. I'm not counting that as a newsletter.

Dedicated, commercial services include Constant Contact, Mail Chimp, and TinyLetter.

Constant Contact (http://www.constantcontact.com/) and Mail Chimp (http://mailchimp.com/) are pay-to-use. Both included sophisticated templates and subscriber tracking of things like click-through and whether or not a newsletter was forwarded. These are large scaled commercial services designed for marketing purposes.
SquareSpace (https://www.squarespace.com/), a content/blogging platform, offers Mail Chimp as part of its services on some plans.
TinyLetter (http://tinyletter.com/), a sub-service of Mail Chimp, is free to use under specific conditions, including a list limit of 5,000 subscribers/year. These are meant to be personal newsletters. They can be extremely attractive, but are meant as means of personally communicating with readers, rather than with a primarily goal of marketing or selling. They are dead serious about not allowing spammers.
Spam, or Unsolicited Commercial Email may be illegal (https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/inbox/state_anti-spam_laws), and ISPs and email service providers will respond very quickly if they receive a complaint that you are spamming.

Newsletters should be of interest to your readers. They should be more than just a marketing ploy; they need to included unique content.

12-04-2015, 01:49 AM
Nicely said, and informational, too.

I know so many people who unwittingly distribute my personal family-only email. I fear there's no educating some of my relatives--or some AW members. But this is a good start. Thanks.