Thursday, July 12, 2012

Thank You For Unsubscribing

By C.J. West
Suspense. Creativity. Action.

Several years ago I had a conversation with a woman that really changed the way I think about how I relate to people. What she said was simple and elegant and probably one of my first memorable exposures to a Zenlike philosophy.

She said, “Do you want everyone to like you?”

What a stupid question. Of course I want everyone to like me.

I’m a people pleaser. I like doing things for people and I have a terrible time saying no to a request.

But there is more to me than that. I have my share of strong opinions and an overactive sense of justice. Some people disagree with me based on what I believe. That’s only natural. So even as I go through life trying to make everyone happy, I invariably find some people I don’t get along with.

Another thing I’ve realized is that I am very slow to anger. Very few people annoy me and usually when someone annoys me they are annoying a whole lot of other people, too. So I’ve decided that sometimes it is okay to act on those feelings of annoyance.

Last week someone on Facebook taunted me about a spelling mistake in my status (with three derogatory posts). I reflected for a moment and realized a few things. This person is highly unlikely to buy my work. They might prompt others to decide not to buy my work as well. And I certainly was not enjoying their company. So why have this person on my page?

I’m not a public service. I’m just a guy trying to make a buck and have some fun.

The solution... I blocked them. I never have to hear from that person on Facebook again. Ever.

That got me thinking about what’s been happening with my newsletter lately.

I’ve been running a Kindle Giveaway called CJ West Fires Me Up. Each month I send out two or three newsletters to contestants. At the end of each month I give away a Kindle Fire in the form of a $200 Amazon Gift Card.

A month or two ago I came across a guy named Ben Settle who professes to be a master of email marketing. I read a bit of his advice and changed the way I write my contest emails.

My new messages are snarky and fun. Sometimes flirty. Almost always sarcastic. Basically I’m having fun writing a quick email and delivering some news to my contestants.

The response has been very interesting.

First there was the older woman who accused me of trying to start a fight between her and her husband.  I got a good laugh out of that one, but I was concerned.  I didn’t want my female readers to think I was hitting on them. (I’m writing suspense not romance.)

A dozen other people have unsubscribed in the past two months. Reading between the lines of their messages I could tell they were not entertained.

I became concerned so I started paying close attention to feedback.

Several friends on Facebook complained they didn’t get one of my messages when I had a database glitch. One woman actually requested that I resend a message because she deleted it too soon. She wanted to reread it. Really?

And nearly fifty people have written to say how much they enjoy my contest emails.

How cool is that? I’m sending marketing fluff and people enjoy it so much they thank me.

What I realized in the end is that I should thank people who unsubscribe. They give me the freedom to be my authentic self. My new messages are fun for people who enjoy my writing and my sense of humor. And I enjoy writing them, too.

How do you feel when someone quits your list?


  1. I do a quarterly newsletter, and I don't mind the unsubscribers--why bug people with things they're not interested in. Sure, there's a quick sting, but I unsubscribe from newsletters, too, so I don't let it bother me very long.

    I used to just send an email using my email program, but that got too unwieldy so I started using Vertical Response, which lets me pay as I go, and the price is next to nothing for the number of subscribers I have, and the infrequency of my mailings.

    What I found, however, is that by using the service, I can see how many people actually open the newsletter. THAT was depressing, and I wish there was some way to verify that these folks don't want to stay on my list, since I hate to think I'm being ignored.

    I'd delete them myself, but the way Vertical Response tracks "opens" isn't 100% accurate, so I'd hate to remove someone who IS reading.

    Terry's Place

  2. Good points Terry.

    One thing I'm really surprised by is how many people actually read blogs and posts. There is so much to read and so much of it is great, free content.

    I'm really pleased when people tell me they've enjoyed my blogs and posts.


  3. I used to want to follow up with them and ask them why, but realized if someone did that to me whose list I'd quit, I'd feel stalked.

    So now, I just go with the flow. Nothing I can do about it anyway.

    I'm glad to hear you're having fun and being authentic and getting some good responses. And to think… you're getting that from marketing.

  4. Overall, my number of unsubscribers has been extremely low. I used to feel offended, then I got over it. I did have someone I know fairly well do it once, which surprised me. I never said anything about it to them.

  5. I don't even notice when people unsubscribe and I'm certainly not offended. But I only send out email newsletters when I have a new release, so my subscribers don't hear from me often and have little reason to opt out.

    I've considered sending a monthly newsletter but with all the blogging I do, and all the email everyone already gets, I've decided not to for now.

    C.J., I think it's great that you have such loyal (and personal) fans that they want to hear from you regularly. My readers just want me to write faster.

  6. I'm at Thrillerfest and have run into a whole bunch of people who say they really enjoy my craft-of-fiction articles and want to get on my mailing list so they'll know when a new one is published and where. That feels good! I send out very brief emails with links to new craft blog post, and I always say at the end to let me know if they want me to take them off my list. I get very few requests to unsubscribe. Maybe the ones who aren't interested just delete the email without opening it!


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