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Subscribers – A Multipurpose Weapon


Most of us are subscribers on remote lists somewhere, even if it’s just the shop where we bought our last pair of shoes. The new trick is to take our email address in an effort to be more ‘green and eco friendly. Yep, here come those sales emails.

But some of us also have mailing lists and host groups of subscribers in the course of our business. It truly is a two edged sword. This weapon must be wielded with great care.

The Email Recipient

Mail subscribers sign up to a list with the best of intentions.  I know that because I do it all the time.

I want the free book or I’m interested in the product or business owner. I like how they sound and think I’m connecting with someone. Sometimes I am, but mostly I’m not.  

I assume I’m an email address on a list. A resource. I get emails. Lots.

I put up with it for a while.  My mailbox groans beneath the weight of clamoring voices and I miss that important one from my bank or my sister. My children start texting to let me know they emailed. The assignment they want me to check is buried under emails wanting my attention, but not a conversation.

I start unsubscribing a few at a time. I didn’t read the book, it’s on my Kindle somewhere. They’re bombarding me and I don’t like it. First to go are those who email too much. Next are those who email on behalf of the person I started following because I liked them. It’s not them. Click. Gone. Eventually I’m down to just one or two I can’t get rid of. Yet.

Then I start again like a reformed chocoholic. I lost all the weight but found myself in the sweetie shop. I just need that book…

The Email Sender

I’m an author with a medium sized list. I try so hard not to do the things I hate. Emailing once a month stays in touch without burying my subscribers under piffle. I write the emails myself. I keep it real, even if it’s not that flattering. I hopefully add value to the lives of my subscribers.

Getting to know the people who read my books is the single best motivator for writing more. When they lust after Logan Du Rose (he is actually my real life husband girls, so steady on) or want to physically hurt Rohan Andreyev, I love it. It fuels my fire and drives me harder. When they hate them, it’s fantastic because I’m evoking emotion. I’m getting a reaction to my work. What more could I ask?

My subscribers reply to my emails and I reply back. We have a conversation. I’m fascinated with them. I love their stories and their lives. Many end up as friends. Some end up in my novels. Maybe I shouldn’t admit that…

Doing the Deed – Unsubscribing

I noticed something the other day whilst unsubscribing from a blog post I always meant to read, but never managed to. I clicked ‘unsubscribe’ and up popped that irritating list of reasons why I wanted to part company with them.

Now as a sender, I know the blogger has no control over that. The mailing list company tacks that onto the end of their process. The list owners neither want nor need it. They’ll never read it. But the mailing list bods will.

I searched the choices and didn’t see the one I wanted.

  • I need a 36 hour day (with power naps)
  • I can’t read it on my phone
  • I’ve gone off them
  • Not enough pictures
  • Husband says it’s rubbish
  • They email me once an hour (I don’t like it)
  • I’d prefer an audio version so I can listen and iron
  • They use a virtual assistant and I don’t find her funny

Instead, I got a list of choices that didn’t really fit. I settled for ‘I don’t want any more of these emails’ and hovered my finger over the button.

Then I saw it

You are unsubscribed!

That list of choices is voluntary, like a survey. What a rush! It’s like slamming the phone down on that telephone sales guy from Bangladesh wanting access to my computer (really happened.) I enjoyed a temporary high of satisfaction. I know, it doesn’t take much in New Zealand, but I didn’t waste thirty seconds of my life. Okay, sausage fingers means it would be more like forty seconds I’d never get back.

You don’t have to fill it in.

The problem

The thing you don’t know as a subscriber is this; you cost me money.

By being on my list when you don’t want to be, you force me to pay for your presence to a mail provider with short arms and deep pockets. They love you. They want to send you birthday and Christmas cards you won’t open because you’re making them a fortune. You and the thousands of others.

If you won’t read the stuff, get off the list.

The other problem

Be careful what you click on the way out the door.

Subscribers wield an awful lot of power without knowing it. Reporting a sender for spam might seem like a single click, but you cause them worry.

Why? Because the mail provider penalises them eventually and stops them mailing out. It damages their credibility and their business.

Spam reports

Someone reported me for spam last week after I sent out my monthly email. I can see who did it. Did you think it was anonymous?

What hurt me most about this one, was that we’d had a conversation. I record my history with each subscriber in the ‘notes’ field of my list. I’d even sent them a copy of Artifact when they requested it. Then they reported me. Maybe it was a careless click, maybe they didn’t like my work. It was still mean.

Saying you never signed up for a list is just as bad.

Actually it’s worse. It’s the real definition of spam; unsolicited mail. It’s an offence in most countries. Unless it’s true, it’s very mean. The chap who clicked this particular button came via Instafreebie, collected 4 of my free books and requested Artifact. Then claimed he didn’t sign up. Nice.

Freebie snarfers

This is a new buzzword in our industry. It describes people who behave like they’re a contestant in Supermarket Sweep. They charge around ripping goodies off shelves because they don’t need to pay. The clock is ticking and they must fill the trolley. They don’t need a waffle maker or a George Foreman grill but it’s there for the taking. Chuck it in. Hoard those freebies you’ll never read.

I know because I’m guilty. Click, click, click and I have 50 eBooks I’ll take the next 10 years getting to.

Eventually the industry will get wise and clamp down. Outstretched fingers will be trapped in the process.


Just like me, everyone has personal reasons for unsubscribing. You can only hate the author, business owner or product provider if you’ve interacted with them. If they insulted your husband or wife, or stroked your dog’s hair the wrong way, hurt them where you can. Click that ‘spam’ button and be damned. Send them to internet hell where the Mailchimp monkey high fives them every time they drop off to sleep.

If not, then they’re just someone trying to make a living. Hurting them makes you the bad guy.

When you click ‘unsubscribe’, you’re unsubscribed. ‘X’ out of the survey and waste no more of your precious time.

If you don’t want emails, unsubscribe. Do it with grace and class, two things this world is desperate for.

Remember; revenge might be sweet, but revenge for nothing is cheap.
Be a good subscriber. Be a great ex-subscriber.


K T BOWES is the author of mystery romance novels. Awards and best sellers, she’s had them both. Check out her books HERE


1 Comment

  1. saharafoley says:

    So true. I recently had an unsub from someone who repeatedly opened my emails and participated in my giveaways. And the same for, never subscribed. Really? They only way to our lists are from promos or free ebooks we offer. Great post, KT.

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