Peevish Pen

Ruminations on reading, writing, rural living, retirement, aging—and sometimes cats. And maybe a border collie or other critters.

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Location: Rural Virginia, United States

I'm an elderly retired teacher who writes. Among my books are Ferradiddledumday (Appalachian version of the Rumpelstiltskin story), Stuck (middle grade paranormal novel), Patches on the Same Quilt (novel set in Franklin County, VA), Them That Go (an Appalachian novel), and several Kindle ebooks.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

E-mail Spam: It's a Blast

Warning: Unless you're a writer, you likely won't find this post very interesting.

One of the book promotional methods that I don't care for is the e-mail blast—or e-mail spam—that an author sends to publicize his/her book. 

A few days ago, I received an e-mail sent to "undisclosed recipients"—a sure-tip off that it's an e-mail blast. Because a jpeg of the promoted e-book's cover was attached, the e-mail weighed in at 3.9 MB. Were I still on dial-up, this thing would have taken 15 minutes or more to download.

The e-mail (which, of course, didn't even address me by name, although I've met the sender a time or two) began with a question, "Why would a [rest of question deleted]?" followed by "To find out check my book [title deleted] which is now available for download at Amazon/Kindle. And the price is only $2.99. Simple go to [URL deleted]."

I didn't follow up. For one thing, the self-published e-book is not a genre that I even read. For another, I don't like being spammed. I do like to hear about friends' new books, but I expect the e-mail to address me by name and at least tell me what the book is about.

Here's an other example of e-mail spam, this one a forwarded email that I received a few months ago. (I have taken the liberty of changing certain details. My changes are in brackets.)

Hi [*],

As a fellow [member of the National Organization I'm email blasting], I hope you'll be interested in ordering a copy of my soon-to-be published book of [pirate-chick lit literary historical romance stories (with a few [other genres] sprinkled in): The [Book I Wrote]. [Pirates, unemployed nannies, sea-monsters, Moby Dick, editorial assistants, time-travelers, shoe shoppers, English majors, and albatrosses] inhabit these tales.

The [Book I Wrote] is the 2nd book from a new, woman-owned-and-edited publisher: [Really New Press]. A special note to [National Organization] writers: [Really New Press] is looking for work for future publication projects: [the email addy was here].

Please support a fellow [member] & give a great start to a new woman publisher by Pre-Ordering Your Copy of The [Book I Wrote].

Here's how: Enclose a check or money order for the discounted price of $14.99 plus $3.50 shipping along with your name & address and mail before January 31, 2011, and get an autographed copy of The [Book I Wrote] before it's available in the store! As a special gift for pre-ordering, you'll also receive another one of my books, [Another Book I Wrote]. Books will be shipped by [date].

Make checks payable to: [Really New Press].
Mail to [a place that isn't New York or one of the other major publishing locations]
For questions, please contact: [editor of Really New Press]

Thanks so much for your support & [National Organization] writers, make sure to check out [Really New Press]'s guidelines for submitting your work.

Your sister-in-the-arts,
[Author's Name]
******

The author who sent this seems like a pretty good writer (I took a look at her blog), but I don't buy books from e-mail solicitations. I buy books from authors published by major houses, self-pubbed authors that I know personally, small press authors that I've met at conferences, occasionally a Facebook Friend, etc.—someone I have a connection to and whose book I've actually seen. I don't care if a publisher is male or female—I care about the quality of the work published.

I was a little  (OK—a lot) suspicious because the author plugged her publisher—which is "looking for work," no doubt from new writers. Uh-oh. Major red flag there. The legit presses are already flooded with submissions. They're not looking.

But my curiosity had been piqued about this new publisher (founded Sept. 2009) that had only one book out and another on the way. I did a bit of Googling and discovered the one book this press already has out is available from Lulu.com—a POD self-publisher. Huh? What's with that? For one thing, it means that this book will never be on the shelves of a bookstore. You can use Lulu yourself to self-publish. Why go through another company that uses Lulu?

Going through Lulu means the book won't be "in the store." I'm guessing the author wanted everyone to pre-order so the publisher could pay for and order X number of copies from Lulu.

The author who sent the email is probably legit, but her press doesn't seem to be. A pity, because her book sounded like something I might like—if I had picked it up in a bookstore or maybe heard her do a public reading from it. And if I hadn't heard about it through a e-mail blast.

For more info about the effectiveness of e-mail blasts as a marketing tool, see the "Book Marketing Ideas That Don't Work" post on the Writer Beware blog.
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