Wednesday 10 September 2014

You Email Your Link to Everybody You’ve Ever Met

The situation: email open with ‘to’ field crammed and pleading mantra in the body.

The symptoms: guilt combined with a burning desire to hit ‘send’.

You published your book forty-eight hours ago and so far you’ve only had three sales, one of which was your own test copy. Why aren’t people buying your book? You’ve updated all the social networks and even your online dating profile. So what did you do wrong?

Then you remember email. You haven’t emailed anybody yet! Email is more direct, harder to ignore …

You soon find yourself in front of an email addressed to everybody you’ve ever met. Your finger is hovering over the send button.



Sending a mass, unsolicited email advertising a product could be considered a bad idea. There’s a very good chance that some recipients, especially the ones you don’t know particularly well, will see a mass marketing email as spam.

Whether you send a bulk email notifying your contacts about your book depends on your bottom line. If the bottom line is that you don’t want to annoy anybody at all, don’t do it. If the bottom line is that you want to make sales, then an email notification is not such a bad idea, provided it’s legal in your country. Many of your friends will be delighted to hear that you’ve published a book, even if they don’t feel it’s quite their cup of tea.

I once started listening to a podcast because some people I went to uni with put me on their mailing list without asking. I loved the podcast and still listen to it. It’s now an award-winning success. However, it’s unlikely that their success hinged on their email activity and this method could have backfired horribly.

If you decide to send the email take steps to make your message as informative and targeted as you can. Don’t send a blanket email to everybody you’ve ever met. You’ll be amazed how many contact details an email address book can hoard over the years: former lovers, parents of former lovers, tutors of parents of former lovers, employers of tutors of parents of former lovers, your GP surgery … Do you really want the person who examines you for piles knowing that you wrote a book called NHS Mysteries #1 – Murder of a General Practitioner?

Glance through the list of recipients and if there are people who definitely won’t be interested in your book, remove them.

Make sure you put email addresses in the Blind Carbon Copy (BCC) field, as this prevents people’s personal details being shared. It also means that if somebody chooses ‘reply all’, their response doesn’t go to your entire mailing list. Your aunt doesn’t need to know that your mate thinks your book is ‘Fucking awesome, man’.

Don’t use a deceptive subject line. ‘Long time, no see. How are you, chicken?’ is a deceptive subject line.

Now look at the body of the email. Do not launch into ‘BUY MY BOOOOOOOOK!!!!111’. Start by saying hello and then politely explain that you’ve written a book and you’d like to tell people all about it. Do not pretend that you’re not trying to sell your book. Do not make it sound like you’re writing to an individual. These things will be noticeably insincere and put people’s backs up.

Make sure you include details of how to unsubscribe. Write a brief footer saying words to the effect of, ‘This is a bulk email and if you’d prefer not to receive any more book notifications, please reply with the word “unsubscribe”.’ Then gracefully accept unsubscribers’ decisions. Make a note of people who opt out and never send them another book advert. I once tried to unsubscribe from book notifications sent by a passing acquaintance three times. On the arrival of a fourth email, I wrote back threatening to report him to the ICO.

In my experience, emailing 100 acquaintances results in approximately ten congratulations, five sales, two unsubscribes and one self-righteous rant.

If you wish to take a softer approach, you could put details of your book in your email footer. That way people you keep in contact with will read about your book without the intrusion of a dedicated email.

Please note: whilst it’s important to promote your book, emailing your stalker could void that cherished restraining order.

Additional Blog-Exclusive Advice

By Richard Martinus
Richard on

If you’ve considered emailing everybody in your address book then the chances are that you’ve also considered the drive-by-promo technique.

The drive-by promo is one of the most powerful marketing tools in your armoury. It comes in a variety of forms:

1. The standard drive-by promo: write up a lengthy advert for your latest masterpiece and blitz every reader and writer forum you can locate with it. Don’t feel you have to hang around to answer questions or show an interest. People in these forums do not expect you to contribute; they’d far rather you were busy writing your next book with which to regale them. In any case, if we’re being honest, they’re generally a boring bunch of bastards and you don’t want to waste your precious time on them.

2. The slo-mo drive-by promo: this is where you precede your drive-by promo with a series of daily teasers. Fifty is the minimum recommended number. Be sure not to let on what it actually is that you’re promoting. (That’s why they’re called teasers, duh!)

3. The J-Lo slo-mo drive-by promo: as above, but illustrated with pictures of eye-catchingly proportioned Hollywood actresses.

4. If you have any images to illustrate a J-Lo in Jell-O slo-mo drive-by promo, please send them straight to me.

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