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Feedback From My Last eNewsletter - the Good and the Bad

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Once a month I publish an eNewsletter which is emailed to about 16,000 subscribers.  At one point, the number of subscribers was over 17,000 but over the last year or so I have lost more subscribers than I have gained.  

The biggest cause of the decrease is simply email addresses that have become invalid.  The system that I use Madmimi will delete any email addresses where there was a "hard bounce".  This is actually a good feature, as it help keep costs by purging bad email addresses.  Madmimi charges you based upon the number of email addresses in your mailing list.

In every newsletter I solicit and receive feedback.  There are some issues which are raised often enough that I thought it might be interested to share them with you.  I will also provide a link in my next eNewsletter to this post so that my subscribers can read my reactions too.  Perhaps it will encourage more feedback.

The reactions are always overwhelmingly positive, that is encouraging.  My goal is to provide useful and interesting information.  I realize I can’t make everyone 100% happy, but I do want to include at least a few things anyone can appreciate – yes something for everyone :-)

Usually the positive messages are pretty direct like, “Thank you. Much appreciated” or “great newsletter”

Sometimes the messages are a little more thoughtful;

“It's my pleasure to subscribe to AALBC. I can't begin to tell you how much I appreciate your eNewsletter. As a writer and an avid reader, it keeps me informed with what's going on with African American books and films, and other literary and film events. I recently re-released my debut novel, -------------------- , so I look forward to advertising with AALBC in the near future, as well. So, thank you!”



“My family had an unfortunate lost at this time, but hopefully I can send the 1%, . before end of May.  I truly enjoy your newsletters, so informational, even when I can not afford a book I have the latest info at my finger tips... so for keeping me updated here in the Midwest were things are a little slower than your area.”




"I'd rather give you $10.00 instead of $7.99. I rather mail you a moneyorder. Just send me mailing info to send it too.
Happy to support"



In an attempt to help bring in revenue to directly support the eNewsletter I started asking people to purchase their subscription.  The campaign plays on the concept of "The 1%".  Where if 1% of the subscribers paid $7.99 for their subscription the eNewsletter would be much better..

The actual reach of the eNewsletter is 1,600 to 3,200 (reach meaning actual readers; people who open the eNewsletter email, in HTML format, and click a link).  I would actually like to get 10% of the actually eNewslettter readers to subscribe which would yield almost $16,000 (an average of 2,000 readers * $7.99).  Which would easily cover the eNewsletter expenses including paying for an editor and the writing of more pre-publication fiction book reviews – something I really would love to be able to do.


I also learned many people who would otherwise pay for their subscription don't do so because they don't want to use PayPal.  PayPal is much easier for me and makes renewing subscriptions much easier. 

While complaints come in less frequently than complements, complaints do come in – and I welcome them.  Consider the following;

“Why haven't you let us know about the new Maya Angelou book---Mom&Me&Mom--I just happened to find out from the Barnes and Noble website.”

Here is part of my reply:


I really meant to mention Maya latest in my eNewsletter, but I simply forgot.  I have already mentioned it in so many places. I’m sorry you missed these.

Most of this was done 5 to 6 weeks ago;

In general, the eNewsletter is just a sampling of what happens on AALBC.com or what I know about.  I simply can’t cover everything.



I know the eNewsletter is the most effective of all of my platforms as it is sent directly to the reader.  It is not dependent upon search result or how social media decides how to position your information for others to see it.


The really bad thing is that I discovered Maya’s new book the way any typical reader might.  I did not get a pre-publication galley not even an email from the publisher.  I might have even commissioned a book review if I had.

From a business perspective I can only afford to do so much to promote a book for which I get no support from the publisher or author.  An advertisement buy would be idea. But something would be helpful. 


As much as people complain about urban authors or self published authors in general -- they in many ways are keep many booksellers, like AALBC.com, alive and subsidize the promotion of authors like Maya Angelou.  

I actively look for new books from popular authors – discovering them is not always easy.  I can only image how difficult it must be for the average reader to discover a new book, or how a new author reaches an audience (well, that is where AALBC.com comes in ;) )


“troy you know i love you but you MUST have your newsletter *professionally* edited... “

What can I say, I agree.  But the issue is one of allocation of resources.  I write and edit the eNewsletter myself. While some writers are better than others at editing their own work, none are as good as the fresh eyes of a professional editor – I get that.  If I got my paid subscriber base up I can certainly have one of my Edit1st.com editors handle the task.  Then again with better editing I might have more paid subscribers :(

Is the editing really that bad?       




The AALBC.com eNewsletter is double opt-in.  You have to subscribe, then confirm you've subscribed via email.  Also each email include a link to unsubscribe.

In the past I have added people, who have attended an AALBC.com event, to the eNewsletter assuming I was doing them a favor.  But I got complaints and discontinued the practice.  So I had no idea why this person would be yelling at me (ALL CAPS WITH MULTIPLE EXCLAMATION POINTS!!!!).  After a little research I determined that this person subscribed on their own, but apparently could not figure out how to unsubscribe. I deleted them and checked with Madmimi support to see if there were any problems with unsubscribing – none were found.



It takes about 8 hours to write an eNewsletter and a few hours read and reply to the feedback.  Of course the underlying content in the eNewsletter takes days to compile and post.


After 15 years of spreading the word about books, writers and now filmmakers.  I know it is even more important than ever. There are simply less places for our stories to be told.  There are fewer book stores, and websites talking about Black books, than when I started.  Coverage of Black books in Magazines, Newspapers and on TV is far less.  Social media, despite the hype, has not picked up the slack ().


Again I appreciate all the critiques the positive and the negative -- even if it is just to say you misspelled a word it is all good.  Thanks!



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For some reason I was actually getting your news letters in my e-mail before I even became a member of the site.

Every so often I would get e-mails from some cat in a suit with a million dollar grin on his face but to be honest I really didn't pay them any attention.....lol.

It wasn't until I became a member here and later saw your name that I started putting 2 and 2 together.

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Pioneer that is deep, I guess that can happen because the design of the eNewseltter, website and discussion board are different.

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