Bring on the confetti, the champagne, and some of those li’l smokies in the crock pot because we’re celebrating at SkipJack Publishing. Congratulations to award-winning, best-selling author, PamelaFagan Hutchins for making it to USA Today Best Sellers List! Pamela is constantly raising the bar and scaling new heights and we couldn’t be prouder of all she is accomplishing in the publishing world and all she continues to teach us.

Be on the lookout for a collaborative blog between Pamela and me when we REALLY hash out the good, the bad, and the ugly of getting to the top of a best seller list. Folks, it doesn’t happen by accident. There’s plenty of blood, sweat and tears.

You may recall a few emails back where I told you about Tammi Labreque’s book, Newsletter Ninja, as well as, her class, IndiePub Intensive. One thing Tammi recommends is sending a re-engagement email. You’ve probably gotten one of those, too. It’s the kind that generally say, “Do you still want to be on my email subscriber list?”

I’ve gotten these and really wondered what’s the point? Don’t you want to grow your list as big as it can be? Well, not necessarily. Whether your list is 500 or 5,000 or 50,000, you absolutely want to be emailing people who open your emails and engage with them.

Sending emails that don’t get opened lowers your email reputation score which means that your emails may not actually get to the people who WANT to receive and read them.

Plus, paying just to have names on a list isn’t really a great idea. The difference between having 15,000 people on your list and 20,000 people on your list could be $15 a month which comes out to $180 a year. That’s $180 that you could be spending on promoting your books to a warm audience, not sending emails into the great unknown.

I thought I could just look at the email metrics of who was opening and who wasn’t opening to determine who should be cleaned from the list. However, an important thing to consider is that your email program will not register an email as an “open” in some cases even if someone did open it. For example, in the Outlook program I use, I can read an entire email, but not actually have ever opened it.

Specifically, Pamela’s list had around 6,000+ people that appeared to not be opening in the last 6 months. And that took us to the next price point. So, I sent an email to those 6,000+ people. Almost 500 opened it (or appeared to open it). BUT, here’s the crazy thing….

Pamela loves hearing from her readers. She enjoys engaging with them and emailing back and forth. (Which is great for your email reputation.) But also great for your readers and it doesn’t hurt to get a little boost for the artist’s ego. Since I manage the list, I get a copy of those emails. Overwhelmingly, the response to ALL of Pamela’s emails is positive and warm and encouraging.

Buuuuuuuut……every once in a while….someone is having a bad day. And apparently, Pamela’s re-engagement email set some people off. Like, really off.

For this project I wrote the email and then got Pamela’s approval. I attempted to go with a lighthearted and friendly tone. But, alas, without the benefit of my sparkling personality, friendly facial expressions, and lilting tone of voice, some read the written words with sarcasm, criticism, and judgement. (I wish you could hear me saying this out loud – it’s very dramatic.)

Here’s a portion of Pamela’s re-engagement email:

“I know getting a bajillion emails can be super-overwhelming so I get it if you need to unsubscribe. I surely don’t want to keep sending you emails you don’t want.

But I also have some very faithful readers who DO want to receive updates and exclusives from me from time to time. So, I don’t want to remove you from the list if you want to be here.”

I was really surprised by the number of gracious and thoughtful answers Pamela got in response. The gist of most emails was that people loved getting Pamela’s emails and yes, they were sometimes busy, but please keep sending them. A few were honest and admitted that they just didn’t have time to get to all their emails and it would probably be best to unsubscribe. But then there were two. I’ll just let you decide what you think:

“Actually you should have had a category when unsubscribing: sent ridiculous email asking if I wanted to stay on list. If I really wanted off to begin with I know how to unsubscribe. So now I did just because I hate those emails.” 

And then there was:

“Sometimes, you’re (sic)‘very faithful readers’ have very busy lives and just can’t get to your emails in a timely manner…Just something YOU might want to consider…I was quite offended by the ‘I have very loyal readers’ comment.  I’m probably old enough to be your mother…let me give you a life lesson…be a little more careful how you address your ‘loyal readers’ because they have lives too.  NOT a fan … anymore”

Honestly, SkipJack peeps, I wasted a good seventeen seconds staring in confusion at these. Maybe it’s because I’m Texan or maybe because I’m an empath or maybe because even at my age my mother would scold me for being rude, but I just can’t imagine taking time to troll an email that’s intended to be helpful and that has the EXACT intention of doing what the “much wiser and more experienced” 2nd emailer suggested – take the readers’ busy lives into consideration.

If there were a USA Today “Best” list for writing scathing, but passive aggressive emails, I’d be a shoe in. And I did write responses to these. But, I did not send them BECAUSE the whole thing was reminiscent of Pamela’s blog, The Good in Bad Reviews, which is all about when people leave you bad book reviews (even when they admit to NOT reading the book). Check that out if you haven’t read it before, or read it again because as long as there are trolls in the world, it will always be relevant.

So, there is a life lesson for indie authors here and it’s not the lesson from “Not a Fan.” I’ll sum it up in Disney one-liners. “Let it go.” (Frozen) “Whistle while you work.” (Snow White) And “Just keep swimming.” (Finding Nemo)

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