You chose to sign up for an email account. You invited others to contact you via email by giving out your address or by emailing that person first or by signing up to receive information or a newsletter. Don’t you think that you have an obligation to check your email and to respond to those who contact you?
Sure, you are probably getting spam—unwanted, unsolicited email. And it annoys you. We all deal with it every day. Spam is such a big deal to some people that they set up spam blockers. And these people sometimes miss important emails that get tossed into the spam box. It happens to everyone. I don’t have spam blocker, but I do have a separate box designated for spam. I check it every day, though, and do you know why? Because, for some reason, all of my book orders from my website land in the spam box, as does an occasional “good” email—book orders from amazon, a request from a magazine editor or even a note from a friend.
I’ve found many of my clients in my spam mailbox. And it is a wonder that I even acknowledged some of them. Why? Because of what they put in the subject line.
What do you look at first when you check your email? The email address or name. Right? If you don’t know the sender, you look at the subject line, to get a clue as to whether this is a valid email or spam. If the subject line says, “Hello,” “I need help,” “Hi,” “Let’s meet,” “Question,” or something equally spam-like, or if, heaven forbid, it is BLANK, you will usually click “delete.”
Just this morning, I started to delete an email with an unfamiliar address and a generic message in the subject line. I took a chance and opened, it, though. It was from an author who has some questions about publishing. Of course, I wanted to receive this email and see if I can help this author. It’s what I do.
The subject line is so important that I have written entire articles on this subject and I’ve devoted blog posts to it. Use the search function here at this blog site and locate a couple of them.
It irks me when people don’t use email responsibly. When I send a response to a SPAWN member, for example, I will generally put SPAWN in the subject line along with my name, perhaps, or a note related to the subject—“your membership,” “your catalog entry,” etc. When I send an article to a magazine editor or a note to a publisher who knows me, I will put, “From Patricia Fry” in my subject line.
How many times has a publisher attempted to reach you via email, and you thought it was spam? How often do you miss book promotion opportunities because you didn’t check your email in time to do the signing or give a presentation? When is the last time you felt embarrassed because you didn’t respond in a timely manner to your editor, a customer or a book reviewer, for example?
Don’t miss out on opportunities because you don’t check your email often enough; because your box is too small and it fills up really fast (pay for the extra email service, for heaven sakes); because you didn’t use a meaningful message in the subject line. Use email responsibly and you will be rewarded. It’s an important business practice just like returning phone calls.
I will be back to my regular daily schedule of blogging Monday, August 16.