Unsolicited Email

email-stopper1If you’re like me, you get a good amount of email in a day. I deal with email pretty much all day long, so it’s on my mind a lot. But I’ve noticed lately a few folks on Twitter, or Facebook, or in messages to me complaining about unsolicited email newsletters from authors or publishing professionals.

In a nutshell, what usually happens is that a reader was added to a newsletter list that they did not subscribe to, and suddenly start receiving email they didn’t want. In other words, they’re being spammed. It might not seem like spam since the author herself may be emailing each person, but an impersonal “Dear Readers” email with links to buy is spam when the recipient never asked to receive it.

This happened to me, and I don’t think the author meant to be malicious at all. But I received a newsletter at an email address attached to the website that I don’t use for correspondence, which means that it was added by someone other than me.

Also, from my perspective, this is not good PR. Sending email to readers that they didn’t want means they will likely have a negative association with the name of the sender. Uh oh! What author would want to be associated with all those terrible spellers who want to refinance your penis and enlarge your mortgage?

The sad thing is, many newsletter outfits online make it easy to import your contacts, but if those contacts have NOT opted-in to a subscription list previously, any harvesting is against the law. Granted, the CAN-SPAM act has been about as effective as patching windows with Jello Pudding Pops (yum), but still. Not legal, not good.

I’m pretty damn forgetful, and I’m guessing that in a few months I won’t remember this author’s name and think, ‘Oh, Spam.’ I unsubscribed and went on with my day. But the fact that an email address I don’t use was subscribed to a list, coupled with the increase in people complaining about unsolicited newsletters is making me wonder – has this happened to you? Did it make an impact?

Have you received unsolicited email from an author or publishing house? How did you react? Did you report it as spam, or just unsubscribe? Do you use email as a way to stay reminded of upcoming books you may want to buy and don’t mind? Or does receiving unsolicited email bug the crap out of you?

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Random Musings

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  1. 1
    Kerry Allen says:

    I made the mistake of leaving a comment on one author’s blog, overlooking the invisible disclosure that filling in the email field constituted consent to be flooded with weekly newsletters for eternity. There was no way to unsubscribe, she ignored multiple polite emails requesting removal, but wowza, she had a great wounded snit in response to less-polite correspondence.

    Since the sight of her name or any mention of mermaids continues to fill me with rage, I suppose you could say yes, receiving uncolicited email bugs the crap out of me.

  2. 2
    Virginia E says:

    It’s important to read the fine print carefully before entering contests. Many of them include a notation that entering will put you on a mailing list unless you specifically opt out. I know that’s how my email got onto the list hacked from a certain well known site.

    There are also some sites that will contact everyone in your address book and in your mail folders if you don’t read their fine print carefully. Some of them are disguised as email programs or sites to discuss your books and reading.

  3. 3
    Sarah W says:

    Librarian e-mail accounts get blitzed with e-mail solicitations and marketing campaigns from authors and publishers.

    If I don’t select for the genre mentioned, I delete the message—I don’t send it on to the correct selector unless I know the author or the message is personalized.  If the mailings becomes persistent, I block the sender.  Newsletters are blocked.

    It’s a pain.

  4. 4
    Joanne says:

    I’m a little less upset about (some) spam since my own email account was hacked and Viagra info was sent to everyone on my mail list.  Everyone. Hello, bank manager! I understand a little better about how email addresses get passed around.  I toss unwanted/unsolicited emails into the spam file and forget about them.

    What bothers me more are emails from authors that I have subscribed to that contain ramblings about things not associated with upcoming or newly released books. If the author is planting fig trees this month I don’t care.

  5. 5
    Carin says:

    I have had pretty good luck with author emails and newsletters.  I’m only signed up for a handful.  I’ve been able to easily unsubscribe.  No subscriptions I didn’t sign up for.  I think for me, it’s had the desired effect – reminding me when authors I enjoy have a new book coming out.

    My problem is the retail stores.  Again, nothing unsolicited, but even with multiple tries at unsubscribing I cannont get removed.  Time to route them to the spam folder I guess.

  6. 6
    SB Sarah says:

    What bothers me more are emails from authors that I have subscribed to that contain ramblings about things not associated with upcoming or newly released books. If the author is planting fig trees this month I don’t care.

    @Joanne: Out of curiosity, what kind of content do you want? Just book news and publication schedules?

    My problem is the retail stores.  Again, nothing unsolicited, but even with multiple tries at unsubscribing I cannont get removed. 

    @Carin: I have that problem, too. Holy hell. If I even think about some bookstore websites I get an email from them.

  7. 7
    Saira Ali says:

    I’m the exact opposite of Joanne: I subscribe to a very few author newsletters (and a great many more author blogs) because their newsletters are charming or witty or humorous.  Newsletters that contain nothing but publication news annoy me.

    I also get my publication news from review blogs and from my local indie bookstore’s newsletter.  And I really don’t like it when I get added to an author or publishing house newsletter because I commented on their blog. The only thing worse is when I get added to a newsletter and have to jump through a half dozen hoops to get off after I’ve bought their book direct from an author website or their publishing house rather than via Amazon.  Hello, way to encourage Amazon’s marketplace domination.

  8. 8
    Jayne says:

    This is funny, because I just received Eloisa James’ monthly-ish newsletter a couple of days ago and I was thinking how much I enjoyed it. It was short, had a link to a column she’d written about embarrassing moments in romance novels, and the cover for her latest book.

    I also have signed up for Kresley Cole’s newsletter, which she sends out about . . . once every six months? It usually has a link to an excerpt of her newest book, and if you haven’t read the Immortals After Dark series, you may not understand how exciting it is, so let me tell you – it’s really fucking exciting.

    All in all, I think that good newsletters can come in any shape and size, but almost all of them have one thing in common: you don’t get very many of them.

  9. 9

    Hello. My name is JoAnne and I am an author without a newsletter. Why don’t I have one? Because I’ve been piffed off too many times by unrequested ones. Plus, I’d hate to run out of news and send out a newsletter like this one….

    What bothers me more are emails from authors that I have subscribed to that contain ramblings about things not associated with upcoming or newly released books. If the author is planting fig trees this month I don’t care.

    @joanne
    Here, here. If I signed up to an author’s newsletter it’s because I want to hear about new or upcoming releases. New excerpts, book trailers and reviews etc.. Only book related news, please. If it becomes a trend that newsletters are sent out when said author doesn’t have any actual ‘book’ news, then I’ll quickly unsubscribe.

    I do like author and publisher newsletters. And I adore eBook store newsletters; love keeping up to date with new releases etc..

    But as for authors spamming? It’s getting more and more of a problem for my inbox. Honestly, half the time I don’t even know who said author is. How do I react? I report spam and move to trash. Like I have time to go through the whole ‘unsubscribe’ thing. I think not. Does that affect how I buy books? You betcha! I’ll go out of my way to make sure books by such authors don’t make it to my Nook.

    Here’s hoping authors who are running this awful practice of just adding anyone and their granny to their newsletter list are reading this and think twice before adding another victim to their quest for inbox domination.

  10. 10
    Laurel says:

    Spam doesn’t bug me unless it’s constant, like two or three a week. I am somehow on an email list that shoots out updates on job postings and local activities for some town in Texas. I live in Georgia. I can’t fathom how my address got on the list or WHY, for that matter. But sometimes I get multiple messages a day from the sender, whom i don’t know. That one is getting tiresome. And if it were an author, I’d be careful moving forward about how I bought their books.

  11. 11
    Joslyn says:

    Years ago I was a member of a few author websites all created and maintained by the same woman. I drifted out of those circles and unsubscribed from emails from all of the authors I had been following. In the years since, I have randomly been resubscribed, to authors I used to sub to and several I never did. I have had to unsub from one author in particular no less than six times. I don’t blame the authors, but as there was no way to remove my profile from the maintainer’s main pages, I blame her. It wasn’t a huge deal, although it was annoying, but then in that most recent massive hack and email steal, my information was stolen. She sent an email around explaining and apologizing, and suggesting that those of us affected change our profile info and password. When I went back to her site, I could not find anywhere to do so, even searching the site map. That made me angry. And then someone tried to hack my Facebook based on that email address. Fortunately I have a different password for everything than I did back then, and did not get hacked anywhere else, but someone tried for my Facebook and I’ve since taken that email off my financial sites and my Facebook. It’s my primary email for my PayPal account, though, and that worries me still. So yes, major impact. I still don’t blame the authors, and if I get resubbed again I’ll email the maintainer herself.

  12. 12
    Suzy K says:

    Author blogs? Review blogs? I use an RSS feed. One author I like (actually love) has a blog with stuff about her everyday life. Interesting, but I’m worried that it takes away from her manuscripts. I’m glad she likes roses, knitting, her puppies & spouse, but I’d rather have the book finished! Perhaps cut down to three days a week?

    Newsletters? I have those sent to an email that I strictly use just for contests, adverts, and stuff that might be, or get, spammy.

    Recently, I got an email from a company reminding me to RSVP to a “party” that a friend was giving. I’d gotten an email invitation from my acquaintance but I’d let her know that I wouldn’t be there. Then to find out she’d given my email to the company really twisted my thong. I replied to the company rep & cc’d my friend that I didn’t appreciate my email being given out without my permission! The rep replied in astonishment that I’d object to her email because my friend had given it to her. My friend replied that she was sorry & she didn’t know that a reminder email would go out. I replied to both that I hadn’t given permission for my email to be given to anyone other than my friend!! What is sad is that this friend is part of an entrepreneur’s association & many feel that this does not violate privacy, ethics or good manners.

    If I give someone my email address, it is just for communication between the two of us. No. one. else. I don’t like it when I get a group email & you can see the email of everyone who got the email, especially if it is one where it has already been forwarded to five million people already and you are threatened with bad karma if you don’t forward it to 10,000 of your best friends within 22 seconds of reading it.

    GRRR!!!

  13. 13

    Author blogs? Review blogs? I use an RSS feed. One author I like (actually love) has a blog with stuff about her everyday life. Interesting, but I’m worried that it takes away from her manuscripts. I’m glad she likes roses, knitting, her puppies & spouse, but I’d rather have the book finished! Perhaps cut down to three days a week?

    @Suzy that’s usually my preferred method to keep up with authors :)
    or Twitter n Facebook.

  14. 14
    ev says:

    I have a separate email for newsletters and such also. I don’t use it for much else anymore, although it was my original email and I still have my address book on it. It got hacked while I was on vacation. Everyone on it got the Viagra email.  My favorite response was from my handyman (he sends his bills to me electronically). He thought maybe I had been hacked, unless of course, I thought at his age (he’s just a little older than me) he needed it. Mind you he has 8 kids, all grown. I about died.

  15. 15
    JamiSings says:

    That’s why I prefer blogs and message boards to e-mail lists. Gail Carriger has a couple of different blogs, one for her writing and one for her passion for vintage fashion. (I have to admit the best part of her writing blog is when Lord Akeldama answers letters. He called me “Paisley Pump” – SQUEE!)

    Only one I get a newsletter from is Dean Koontz and he even calls is Useless News. I also get his snail mail version. Best part of that is when he shares old pictures of Trixie or new pictures of his new dog.

  16. 16
    Angela James says:

    You already know my story, but still, there are other people in publishing besides authors and publishers who behave badly!  What about the supposed marketing company that added me to their newsletter and mailing list. And then thought I should be grateful for it. Grrrr!

  17. 17
    Keri Ford says:

    there is a review site that sends stuff out ALL THE TIME. (not yours, I signed up for yours/DA’s and it’s just like once a month). but this other site, OMG. I did not sign up for it and it’s a couple times a week.

    if it’s *close* author friends, I don’t mind. otherwise, don’t put me on your list.

  18. 18

    Unsolicited emails bug me until I hit unsubscribe.

  19. 19
    MJ says:

    I reconnected with someone I’d met in our local RWA chapter over Facebook and gave her my personal “friends and work” email address and told her to keep in touch. Instead, she not only added me to her author newsletter, but, after I unsubscribed, she now forwards me her updates. She hasn’t actually bothered to write a personal email yet. Now I delete her emails unread. It’s bad form, and it makes me less likely to even consider ever buying her books.

  20. 20
    Maya Banks says:

    Was just going to mention what Angela did. I actually get more spam from marketing companies and online author promotion machines and I KNOW I’ve never signed up because I don’t sign up for any emails from anyone EVER. I’m extremely careful when I buy something online to make sure all those damn boxes are unchecked that says “send me news!”

    What I find so annoying is that when I get subscribed to these letters, in order to get them to STOP I have to jump through endless hoops.  It makes me crazy to get an unsolicited email that then says “No longer want to be informed? Click here”

    I NEVER wanted to be informed and now I have to take several minutes out of my day (times every one of these emails I get) to go unsubscribe myself.

    And yes, the author promotion places are the WORST. I regularly get spammed about an authors new release and I think why am I getting this?

    It’s hard because it makes the author look bad and I’ve found in many cases they have no idea the person they’ve hired to promote their books routinely spam people as a way of getting the word out about their books.

    I will say, in the interest of answering that question “But does it WORK” No. Doesn’t work for me anyway. I don’t go out and buy the book. I usually end up with a vague sense months later of “Why does this author sound familiar to me?” and then remembering oh yeah, she was in that spam email. Which abruptly ends any desire I may have had to buy or check out the book.

  21. 21
    Amber says:

    I think the worst of it is when I can’t unsubscribe. I mean, I don’t get such a huge amount of email that clicking STOP SENDING ME THIS is so terrible, but when you click the link and it says, 72 hours and you’ll be off our list, and then i’m still getting emails from them a month later, it’s a real piss off.

    Or the ones that make you sign in to an account to stop receiving emails, when you either did it on a whim and don’t remember making the account let alone a username, or never made the username in the first place. It’s unnecessary and really, really annoying. Basically it means that I never sign up for any newsletters at all, and then it’s possible i’m missing out on stuff I DO want to see, because i’m so annoyed by all the stuff i’d rather not being seeing all the time.

  22. 22
    Lady T says:

    I had this happen to me recently,from two different authors(one of whom I connected with due to winning a giveaway on this site)and the e-mail headings were so clearly not book related that I simply deleted them.

    Hopefully,authors will keep track of this as much as they can,since their reputations can be tarnished by someone else’s carelessness.

  23. 23
    Vicki says:

    A friend of mine is a writer, not romance, who is now doing very well and becoming known in her field. She has had a blog since she started writing. The blog, while personal, is full of the writing and topics that she wants to work on and write about professionally. It has been fascinating to watch her hone her craft and talk about how she writes as well. She also used the blog as writing samples when she was starting out.

    That is the sort of thing I like, reading a blog, watching a writer’s mind at work, even if they are writing about their garden. OTOH, these are blogs I am talking about. The newsletters I subscribe to are few and tend to be sporadic, coming only when there is a new work about to be released or if there is a special.

    Because I tend to lurk, rather than post, I don’t have a lot of trouble with unsolicited stuff.

  24. 24
    JennyME says:

    Meh, I can’t think of any author newsletters I really like. I’m much more likely to add an author’s blog to my reader than sign up for their e-mail list. I got on a few lists from entering contests several years ago and I usually delete the e-mails without reading them. :(

    1. You can get added to a list just from commenting on their blog?? NOT COOL.

    2. Dear authors: Please don’t use your newsletter or blog post as a place to show off your book’s foreign covers. I know they look different. It’s very cool that your book is in Polish. But there are better and more interesting things you could be talking to me about.

  25. 25
    Joanne says:

    @Joanne: Out of curiosity, what kind of content do you want? Just book news and publication schedules?

    I’m not objecting to reading that the author enjoyed a trip somewhere or is celebrating the birth of a grandchild, or is taking time off from writing or whatever may be going on with them – because all of that is is interesting. What bothers me is when you can tell that someone hasn’t any real news but feels obligated to write a newsletter so it’s a weather report or something equally inane as though the newsletter is subject to a word count.

    I’m afraid, that like so many other online things, authors are damned if they do and damned if they don’t. I love being just a reader.

  26. 26
    Anon says:

    Oh, yeah. There are several authors who are now on my bad list.

    Just because we’ve had correspondence (I used to run the chapter’s published author contest) about something, doesn’t mean I want to be added to your newsletter.

    Just because we’ve had correspondence (in the normal course of chapter business) and you’re a fellow chapter member, doesn’t mean I want to be added to your newsletter.

    Look, I remember what I sign up for: Nothing. I don’t join things that want information from me (Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, etc) and I don’t sign up for newsletters. So I know you’ve added me without my permission and I’m annoyed you would presume on our professional correspondence to add me to your list.

    It may not be SPAM to the author, but it sure is SPAM to me.

    cent26: That’s my 26 cents worth.

  27. 27

    This drives me up the wall. I try to be very, very explicit about when you’re doing something that adds you to my newsletter list (and posting on my blog or sending me an e-mail isn’t one of those things), and I try to be very very explicit that I’ll only send a newsletter to announce a new release. And I know that someone is still going to be annoyed to get the newsletter.

    I’ve stopped trying to get newsletter signups via contests—if you really want a reminder when my books come out, you don’t need to be bribed for it, and if you don’t, I don’t want to bother you. But I know that someone’s going to be annoyed anyway when I hit send.

    I hate it—HATE IT—when people don’t respect the sanctity of my inbox. And I realize that my inbox is about as sacred as a reality-TV courtship, especially considering the dirty jokes that constantly land there courtesy of my friends, but still.

  28. 28
    SB Sarah says:

    And I realize that my inbox is about as sacred as a reality-TV courtship, especially considering the dirty jokes that constantly land there courtesy of my friends, but still.

    I can’t quite transcribe the sound that I just made, but I totally choked on my gum at that.

  29. 29
    Keri Ford says:

    Instead, she not only added me to her author newsletter, but, after I unsubscribed, she now forwards me her updates. She hasn’t actually bothered to write a personal email yet. Now I delete her emails unread.

    MJ, I was getting something similar. that “forwarded newsletter”. I emailed and said, “Hey, I seem to have ended up on your newsletter list and I don’t see an unsubscribe button. Can you remove me? Thanks! My inbox is so overloaded!”

    I never got another email.

  30. 30

    When I am on a site that I HAVE sign up if I want their product – lets say a good company like iTunes – I always make sure I unclick the box that says “Do I want information and news/deals”

    Also at a merchant, never give my email unless I want it – like “Coach”

    If I want news on an author, I am a FB friend or follow on Twitter. No newsletters. I dont want them. I will know about the new book release because it will be all over and RT on Twitter.

    I do not even offer subscribe by email on my blog because I want no way shape or form to be associated with spamming people about my blog / events/ updates.

    I was sent a DM on Twitter and my entire Flist got spammed and I was mortified. I couldnt belive I fell for it.

    Cheers

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