Okay, so, the scuttlebutt is writers should stay in touch with their readers. Usually we do that by writing books. But, sometimes, there’s a bit of a pause between tomes and we need to resort to other methods.
Like a good kid, when I first started out, I collected e-dresses and invited people to be on my list for "updates." Because I despise spam, I made sure to only send out notices when there was something important to report such as new contracts, book releases and signings, talks, articles published. My other vow was that I wouldn’t inundate anyone with my propaganda.
Three years later, I’d accumulated a list of 500 names — give or take. I know that’s not a big number, but it made me happy enough. However, with spam filters being what they are, mailing my updates became a nightmare. I had to break up my lists into itsy, bitsy, ones in order to make it through indiscriminate email sieves. Sure, I could have paid for someone else to do it — a company online — but with all the PR I do, and the humble number of my list, I didn’t think the expense was worth it. Not really. Not yet.
Anyway, the effort to stay in touch became a disincentive. I stopped mailing even quarterly updates. Names and addresses sank into obsolescence. That might have been all right for awhile, but now I’m gearing up for my new book’s entry into the world. (January will be here before you know it.)
So, I decided to resurrect the updates. This time, I created a private, unlisted group through Yahoo. I keyed in hundreds of names in January and got a horrid return on opt-ins. Sure, the people who responded really wanted to hear from me, but what about the others? Did they hate me? Did they hate my writing? Had I been annoying them for years without knowing it? Were they dumping my updates the way I often do when others send generic announcements to me? I felt totally rejected.
It’s stupid, I know. But there’s the truth.
What mature thing did I do? Nada. I stopped keying in any more names. Yep. Pretty pathetic, hunh?
The whole exercise devolved into another reason to feel rotten, to re-up for the emotional rollercoaster, to sulk. Heck, there are so many email newsletters out there, so many websites and blogs, listervs and online "communities." Why bother trying to put out my own missives anymore? Why bother trying to communicate at all? Wah.
Here’s the BECAUSE:
There are people who DO, indeed, want to hear from me.
This week, when I need a break from writing or have a couple of minutes between kiddie-taxi duties, I’ll try to complete my data entry. Though invitees may opt not to join the list, it’s a chance I’ll take.
At public talks and private book clubs, I’ll continue to collect email addresses and offer to stay in touch.
And, with each acceptance, I’ll feel a bit more connected, a bit more encouraged . . . a bit more like this particular exercise is worthwhile.