Friday, April 22, 2011

Can We Talk?

Wow. I never realized how many writerly folk in the blogosphere don't have published email addies. I've seen the occasional agent mention they couldn't contact someone, but I just assumed those were one-offs.

I recently wanted to contact a number of people to relay a fun and informational message -- not promo stuff! -- about an online event commemorating a milestone in the career of someone these people were/are stalking visiting online. (If I didn't contact YOU, find out the who's and what's right here tomorrow. It involves contests and prizes -- so far, a $25 Amazon gift card, a $20 gift card or PayPal payment, a 10-page crit, a handcrafted craft, and a used book.)

I had some addresses but after scouring the comments of famous person's said blog, I saw I needed to find 44 more. (Actually, I wanted to find a LOT more than that, but so many people who comment on blogs don't have a profile at all. Boo.) Of those 44, I tracked back through profiles to their blogs and websites. 18 people did not have any contact information whatsoever. 3 people had only contact forms on their websites.

That's nearly half who didn't have a convenient way for someone to get in touch privately.

I get the contact forms. However, many people like to keep a copy of the mails they send to remind them why they've contacted someone in the first place. Especially professionals such as, oh I don't know, agents, perhaps?

I get the privacy thing. Heck, I hide behind a penname. But there's no reason anyone online today can't have a separate email addy for their online persona. (I have a third addy for when I'm filling in forms when I'm pretty sure giving out my email addy will result in the company spamming me.) Just be sure to write your email on your profile or blog in a way that spambots can't pick it up easily, if you're concerned:

phoenixsullivan @

Some of the folk I couldn't find a contact for may have a Facebook or Twitter account with their contact info. If they do, they didn't link back those accounts to their blogs or websites. Don't forget to connect the dots if you have multiple presences online.

Most of the folk I meet online are in the process of building platform. You're here to see and be seen -- as well as to learn and be helpful to others and all that other altruistic stuff, of course. Some of the most inspiring moments I've ever had were when someone sent me a private email to tell me how much a particular comment meant to them. Warm fuzzies keep me going! I've sent my own encouraging private emails -- and would have loved to have sent more had I had a way to contact the individuals. And a few private email conversations have led to really great virtual friendships. In a roundabout way, it's how I found my crit partners.

A lot of you resist having a Blogger account or a Wordpress or LiveJournal account. I can respect that as a personal choice. But for those of you looking to be professionally published and who intend to make writing a business, you really need to be looking at these accounts as a business choice, not a personal one. These are tools for the professional you.

Some of you just don't feel quite ready yet to "go public." May I suggest the time to do that is when you start querying in earnest? To that end, I hope to be able to talk to each and every one of you in the very near future!


Sarah Laurenson said...

It can be scary when you don't get to 'see' the person you're talking to. Some of us are more risk taking than others. They say that's genetically based.

Great post and reminder that if you can't be found, you can't be discovered.

Phoenix Sullivan said...

That's a good point, Sarah.

I've wondered if I should set up a way on the blog to allow people to send queries anonymously. I keep the identities anonymous when I post, but is it intimidating to send ME a query with your name and email addy?

I admit I send most of my stuff I wanted critted to EE's site anonymously, but that's because I don't want my name to color the inititial responses (including EE's) in any way. I want raw feedback and only out myself later in the comments.

lexcade said...

I read something like this one Rachelle Gardner's blog and panicked LOL. So I made a tab on my blog with my facebook, twitter, and email address. Took like 3 seconds. And darnit, I want some attention! :-D

vkw said...

I am impressed with your research Phoenix. I could not have done it.

Here is my story about email. . . it's a sad, sad story.

I have an email address since 2001 or 2002. It's the account I used with family and friends and orders. It didn't get a lot of spam until I signed up for Facebook.

I opened a new account about four years ago that I used for facebook and was "professional" account. I used my name. It was what I intended to query with, my pastor was added to it, my Bible study friends. It was immediately spammed by everything. And then suddenly to my horror for about three months, occassionally and unexpectedly, my email was sending spam to everyone on my contact list - including viagra ads to my pastor. Stop laughing. It's not funny.

I preceded to run every spy ware, mail ware, protection ever invented, and just when I thought I eliminated the problem, again my email was sending viagra spam to my son's teacher. Again, stop laughing, it's not funny, who threatened to call the police if I continued to spam him. (See. . now you're not laughing. I don't think the teacher had any idea who I was).

Then I researched the web and discovered that probably what happened was that I inadverntly gave away my email and my password on facebook on one of those aps to find my secret crush or something similar per recommendation of my son this is fun.

I closed the account, opened a new one and low and behold I get one spam a week and I am clueless how a spammer got it. It doesn't seem possible. I keep no contacts in the account at all. I have been so careful to only use it sparingly . . .

I did reopen my closed account and now use it only for purchases. I change my password every three months. And guess what, the orcs that hijacked my account every once in while email me asking for my password, stating the request is coming from facebook. So . . .that's good, I guess.

By the way, I no longer have a facebook account and I am unlikely ever to have one again. No matter what. I am never going to twitter either.

Jo-Ann said...

I'm wondering whether its because we can allow ourselves to make mistakes and to be seen as complete fools on sites such as these. Aliases allows us freedom. Plus, if we inadvertently offend anybody on these on-line sites, nobody can chase us down for a round of email abuse.

We'll save our contact details for those sites which display the professional, polished and well scripted facets of ourselves - and hope that a bored agent (because they have nothing to do all day) stumbles on it and discovers our genius!

Phoenix Sullivan said...

@Lexcade: Well you're getting attention, too, aren't you?

@Jo: I do see why someone might want to comment with just a name in that case and no link. When I first started blog hopping, that's exactly what I did until I was comfortable with the sites I frequented and with how the whole blog/commenting thing worked.

But not having contact info once someone reaches your blog or website or profile page? That erudite comment that Janet Reid follows up on should lead to a way to reach out to that commenter, IMO. But that's just it -- it's only my opinion and, in the end, folk have to do what's comfortable for them and take only the gambles they want to.

Here's hoping your genius is discovered soon!

Phoenix Sullivan said...

vkw: So sorry! This comment went to Blogger's spam. I saw it in my inbox and came to reply to it yesterday and it wasn't here so I thought maybe you deleted it. Had to look in the spam folder this morning for something else and there it was.

Which, I only just realize as I'm typing this, is pretty ironic. (I was more concerned you'd think I was an uptight bitch for not publishing it in the comments.) The comment doesn't have links. I don't know WHY Blogger is picking on you and Matt.

That really is a horrible story. And no, not funny at all. I liken it to identity theft. Do you not carry/use a credit or debit card because of the risks? I'm asking, not accusing! Some people won't -- and they may be right. But that also limits their options.

You've made the best compromise by not keeping contacts so your account isn't the one doing the spamming. But really, if anyone holds you responsible, wow. I've had contacts who've been hit like that too and have gotten spammy links from them. Of course, I can see how that might color a professional's response if the person getting the mail isn't even a casual acquaintance. But the prevention is, as you've done, not keep anyone who isn't close to you in your contacts.

I'll grant it can be a tough call.

Wilkins MacQueen said...

Wow. I hide behind a pen name. If you met me on my early EE days you know my first name.
I love Sarah L's comments. VKW - so sharp and accurate, Lx what can I say? I'm a fan. A big fan. As a blogger, although I don't publish my email address, send me yours in comments and I'll respond, gladly. Matt is a guiding light of wisdom.
I go to many blogs and can't get an email adrress, that's okay. So yeah, it is hard to keep private/let it hang out there. I comment on a young blogger's site and the author refuses to acknowledge me. That's ok too.

No Divine Miss Pheonix, not at all inimidating to send stuff you. More like not being ready.

So let's be brave, (talking to myself here) and not be so shy.

I've been hacked, was left 24 million US from someone named Shavone in Africa and got the latest my father died leaving me 84 million US - send me your bank details from Dr. Who. LOL, with gusto.

Be safe on the internet. It's a wild world these days.

Xenith said...

Oh, does that explain why I got the email to my "main" address rather than the gmail one that I use for blogger/EE? (I thought the gmail was available via my Blogger profile. Seems its not.)

(Trying to persuade myself it's OK to post comments on the other threads here.)

Phoenix Sullivan said...

@Xenith: Seems Blogger thinks you're spam too!

I can't remember how I finally found an addy for you, but I know I spent a lot of time looking. And visiting dead blogs. So unless you attract an extremely dedicated stalker, you're pretty safe :o)

Xenith said...

Sorry :) My various online identities are supposed to be loosely linked so any one who actually cares can contact me.

Email is now available via the Blogger profile.

Phoenix Sullivan said...

And yet Blogger still thinks you're spam. Weird. So you know, comments should show up immediately. Yours keep getting bounced to Blogger's automatic spam folder that it activates -- shoot, I don't know WHEN it activates or WHY. Sigh.

Still, yay! I do hope you come by and comment more. I promise to post your comments as soon as I find them ;o)

And now I know I can find you again next year, too!

Sylvia said...

I have had the same email address for ten years and it has been public throughout.

My email goes through Spam Assassin and it's very, very rare that I get a false positive. Spam Assassin ranks your mail by likelihood, so I can decide how strict I want it to be.

I sometimes get unexpected mail and I can only think of one time when it has been unpleasant (a stranger contacting me to speak about my boyfriend).

I don't really get the concern. Don't get me wrong, I agree that getting a virus is a terrible thing but that's not really to do with having a public email account as the email client and files sent to you (usually by friends as opposed to spambots). I don't obfuscate my email address but doing that would avoid the issue completely.

Phoenix Sullivan said...

@Sylvia: Good point about the different filters available. And I think it matters where you post your addy and to whom you give it.

I think I've gotten maybe 3 or 4 spam messages in my phoenixsullivan account in the 3.5 years I've had it.

My personal account that I use for personal business stuff and is therefore out in a more public world gets maybe 1 or 2 spam messages a month.

And my "junk" addy, which I use for everything else, is inundated with spam every day. Of which Yahoo gets about 98% right. Only occasionally does it quarantine a legit mail or let through a spam one.

Filters and anti-virus programs are getting better and better every year.