An Internet Time-Out

Twice this week I’ve been placed on a 24-hour Internet time out where I’ve been forced to sit on a virtual stool in a corner, and told I was being a bad girl for sending out too many e-mails.

Guess what?  I’m guilty as charged because I did send out a lot of e-mails.  I didn’t know I had crossed the limit until AFTER I crossed the limit.  At that point, they told me in a virtual sense that my mail wasn’t going anywhere until I had done my time in a cyber-hoosegow.

Here’s how it happened.  While I was off on tour and trying to let people know where I’d be doing appearances, it occurred to me that there were lots of people in my list for whom I had no physical location.  And so, on non-creative down time–in airports, on planes, and living on no known time zones–I decided to do what I could to rectify that situation–by going through the entire list, one record at a time.

Usually when I go all OCD on something, my first instinct is to start at the very beginning–with the A’s which means the A’s are in really good shape, but I never get anywhere near the Y’s.  This time I tried something different and started with the K’s instead.  I went backing and forthing through the entire list, sending out requests for city and state to all the e-mail addresses that didn’t have them.  And people answered–lots of them.  I found some people near locations where I was going in a timely enough manner that I was able to invite them to events–and they came.  I also found folks who lived within a few miles of places where I’d already been, and they missed out.

In the process I discovered people whose records had multiple e-mail addresses.  I asked those folks which address they preferred for newsletter purposes.  Lots of those folks answered, too.

In the process I discovered several interesting things.  My out-going e-mail form lists my name as Judith Jance.  Any number of people wrote to me to say “Who are you and why do you want this information?”  I’ve been J.A. Jance for so long that it didn’t occur to me that some people out there still don’t know that J.A. stands for Judith Ann.  (My original publisher’s marketing team didn’t think male readers would accept a homicide detective  named Beaumont if they knew the author standing behind J.P. was someone named Judy.)

A number of people also complained that when they looked at the schedule on the website, all they could find was a listing of the events in Washington.  That’s because it never occurred to them to go to the map and click on the state where they happen to live.  It turns out some of my readers require a certain amount of cyber hand-holding.

I have a big list.  Somewhere along the way, working obsessively, I crossed the iCloud boundary of too many e-mails, and Apple cut me off.  Twice with a twenty-four hour wait each time.  Even so, I made it through the entire alphabet.  People are responding, and I really appreciate it.  Having that information is vital when it comes time for me to help publishers plan upcoming book tours.  I want to go to the places where my fans are thick on the ground, because that’s the whole point–getting out and seeing the people, MY people, the people in my list.

When I was in the insurance business, we used to call the people who bought small policies and kept them forever the “bread and butter” business.  And that’s what the people in my list are.  They’re the loyal readers–the early adopters, the ones who’ve been reading my books forever, and who pre-order my books as soon as they can.  They’re also the who read everything.

So here’s the deal.  If you received an e-mail from me this week, asking for your city and state, it really did come from me–personally–and from no one else.  My list is MY list.  It’s not a list that gets sold to anyone else. If, on the other hand, you receive an e-mail from me offering to sell you Viagra or telling you that I’m in Spain and have lost my purse, please send money.  Those are scams.  Those are not from me.  Don’t open the e-mail and absolutely DO NOT open any links inside the e-mail.  My list is all about books and nothing else.

A few years ago, my publisher told me, “If you’ll send us your list, we’ll be happy to send out the notices.”  Nope!  Didn’t happen.  My publishers have lots of mystery writers, and I didn’t want to share my list with any of those other guys.  Let them get their own darned lists!

So thank you to all who responded.  Now it’s time to let the list be and deal with copy-editing on Cold Betrayal, the next Ali book.  I also need to get my head wrapped around writing the next Beaumont book, and to answer just a few more e-mails.

Time flies when you’re having fun.

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