Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Writing 101: How to Run Your Email

Indie authors have to spend a lot time promoting their books. They use forums, they tweet, they blog -- they're out there. And when you're building an online personality and reaching out a lot on the Internet, you're going to get a lot of email. If you don't run it the right way, it will end up running all over you.

I didn't notice how many emails I was really getting, or how often I was actually checking my inbox, until I changed the notification sound on my phone. It's a loud sound, and it's a good one -- until you have to hear it 30 times a day. But it's not the notification's fault; it's mine. And if you don't know how to run your email, you're going to end up like me: with a phone on silent mode, and missing all your calls. 

Run This Town 

When it comes to running your indie author email, it's not enough to practice the self-discipline that I've preached in the past. It's important not to get distracted by email, but don't make it impossible on yourself. Use some of the tips I've learned to use, and run your inbox. Don't let it run you. 

  • Spam: If something is spam, mark it as spam. All the notifications I get from Wattpad and Pinterest, for example, don't ever bother me because I don't have to see them. I'm the type to mark forum notifications as spam as well, along with plenty of other stuff. But everyone has their own definition of spam. Figure out what you don't need to see, and send it to spam.
  • Prioritizing: Of course, once you mark a sender as spam it all goes to spam. And not all emails from the same sender are created equal. For example, Twitter. It's not useful to me to see emails for every time I get a retweet or a new follower because I check my notifications on site, but some of the stuff Twitter sends through email is helpful. Their lists of suggested accounts to follow, for example, can be useful to indie authors. So instead of blacklisting everyone and sending everything to spam, prioritize it. Gmail automatically organizes mails into three folders: primary, social and promotions. Emails that you want to prioritized can be moved from the social folder to the primary folder. Move your emails a few times, and Gmail will start to prioritize your mails correctly. 
  • Don't forget: Like I said, I get a lot of emails. So many that I have to take time to check my inbox throughout the day, or find myself too bogged down with email housekeeping by the time night rolls around. So I check it every time I come to a natural pause in my writing, and that makes it easy to forget about emails that I still need to answer. So when you find an important email that you need to address but you can't deal with it right now, mark it. Many email apps allow you to put a little star next to the mail, so you can visually mark it. But all programs will allow you to mark a message as unread, so you can still get back to it later.

Being an indie author means getting lots of emails. Don't let important messages get lost in the shuffle, and don't let all the extra notifications take over your inbox. Learn how to run it...because otherwise, you'll just get lost.

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