I was scrolling through my professional email as my wife drove me in to work (my car is being looked at by a mechanic... hold together, old buddy) and I came across one that caught my ire. It's subject line was this: "Holiday Gift Giving Guide." Now I'm using a mobile client, so the typical tricks for a malicious email don't work. And I was wondering how it got past my SPAM filters, because I used to be responsible for that sort of thing. I'm the type of guy who finds it interesting to see how folks are beating these things. That way we can make them better. But I digress...
So I open up the message and the first line says this, "Dear AAAAAAAA* Author or Friend of BBBBBBBB*" (names changes to protect the guilty) and goes on to describe some books that are being sold by BBBBBBBB. BBBBBBBB is an imprint of AAAAAAAA. AAAAAAAA is a company that I have previously done business with, either as an author or potential author (I know which, but I'm being vague on purpose... to protect the guilty). It's a legitimate email from the sense that it doesn't fit the typical patterns for SPAM, it's not going to trip any bayesian filters, and it's advertising a legitimate set of books. But I certainly didn't sign up to receive this sort of thing. So now I'm thinking about how next to proceed in a professional, but firm, manner to let them know that unsolicited emails like this are unappreciated. I want to continue receiving alerts from AAAAAAAA, because I want to be kept up on potential writing or tech editing opportunities, but I don't want to receive these sorts of emails. And they sent it through their alert system.
I have a lot of respect for AAAAAAAA and this one email isn't going to make a major change in that opinion, but certainly this is not to right way to go to hawk your products. Case in point, I appreciate the 30% off discount you're offering me. But why in the world would you think that I would care about a book on pet photography? Sure, there's an off-hand chance that I might buy the book, but realistically, you're more likely to garner ill will from your AAAAAAAA authors who have no connection to BBBBBBBB company, nor any interest in their primary topic of books. So why send me that advertisement email and risk souring my opinion? I don't get it.
I realize it's a competitive marketplace. The book publishing industry has been brutal. And email costs virtually nothing. So it seems like a good way to make a sale in this hard to sell arena. But if you turn off your potential customers (and authors), what is the cost to that? Does that even get weighed in? I don't think it does. But it probably should.