Sunday, February 26, 2012


I’ve always kept the various aspects of my life compartmentalized. My PTA Mom role stays separate from my Intense Writer role, which stays separate from my Fanatic Exerciser role. That’s comfortable to me. No need to sweat all over my manuscripts or try to discuss the current trend toward self-publishing with a weary mom of four who is unaware she has baby puke on her shoulder.
So when, this week, the VP of Communications for the PTA grabbed my wrist right before the start of a monthly PTA meeting and said, “Oh my Gosh! I read your short story!” I felt a definite, gut-churning crashing of roles.
Especially since the story she had come across, “Him,” was about a teenage sex addict. Edgy, even by today’s teen writing standards.
This wide-eyed PTA mom stood there staring at me, waiting for me to say something – anything -- but all I could think about was that her “keep our kids safe and healthy”-focused mind had soaked up my sordid story in its entirety. And the first fifty words were enough to make my mother blush.

I’m in a stranger’s bed
            a college guy from the cigar shop at the mall. He smells like
tobacco, tastes like mints. He pulls my shirt over my head, weaves his fingers
through mine to pull me down. And I get the same thought.
Every time. The same. I shouldn’t be here.

You get the picture.
And so did she.
So I managed to squeak out, “So, um, how did you find that story?”
“Well,” she said all chipper, “your email signature with your blog sites was at the bottom of your last email, so I just got onto your blogs and looked around.”
Crap! I had made a habit of taking off my Intense Writer electronic signature to any email going to anyone associated with PTA Mom. Apparently, I had been rushed and left it on.
Then this woman of two adorable young children said, “And I couldn’t stop reading! I loved it! I wanted another 250 pages of it. So you better get on that.”
I was stunned. Baffled. I mumbled a “Thanks” and then did what anybody whose compartmentalized world had suddenly shifted would do -- I went to the nearest Italian restaurant with a girlfriend to discuss the situation over chocolate martinis.
A half a martini in, it struck me – I should be promoting myself more. I’m a good writer. I’ve won some awards. My stuff is racy, but with reason. Hell, why haven’t I been using that email signature to death?
After all it’s FREE MARKETING. It gets your name out there and connects people to all your online sites all in one shot. And those people share what they read, which sends other people to your sites, which ultimately will sell more of your writing. It’s a beautiful thing.
After my World’s Collide experience with the PTA, I decided to make sure that if I was going to throw my email signature out to the whole world and nothing but the whole world, I’d better be certain it had everything it was supposed to have. So I consulted for those key elements a writer’s email signature needs. They said, in a nutshell:

  • Your book’s title and a link where people can buy it.
  • Your website and blog links.
  • If your website or blog doesn’t offer up your email (though they should), include it in the signature for quick-clicking contact.
  • Stick to five lines or less.
  • Add a touch of color (but don’t go wild!) and break up the lines to make it more visually appealing and help it stand out.
  • Consider creating more than one signature and rotate them to highlight different projects, awards, or sites.

Here are the email signatures of a couple YA Fusion bloggers. They contain the elements needed to effectively market these writers. And note Tracy’s cool color choice! Way to go, ladies!

Tracy Bilen
What She Left Behind (formerly Riding Backwards)Simon Pulse/Simon and Schuster - May 1, 2012

Katie McGarry
Pushing the Limits ~ Harlequin Teen ~ Summer 2012
YA Fusion Group Blog:

And so, I’ve revamped mine to include some awards I’ve won, just for that added “oomph”!

Heather Smith Meloche
YA Fusion Group Blog:
2012 Winner of the VCFA Katherine Paterson Prize for YA/Children’s Literature
2012 Winner of the Writer’s Digest National Competition – Children’s/YA Category

So lesson learned: you need to create a signature that reflects you. That gets your name in front of people. That highlights your successes and those imperative links to your website and blog. That gives that fantastic, final flourish. And once you’ve created it, use it. Own it. Embrace it as a key marketing tool that can help get the word out about how wonderful a writer you are. Then target all those soccer moms, room moms and dads, and PTA parents because you never know. They just might be craving some well-written YA!

Has your email signature ever helped to sell a book or given you extra hits on your website? Let us know by posting below!


Natalie Aguirre said...

That's a great idea. I always add my blog to my signature when I e-mail to anyone I think would be interested. But if I ever have a book come out, I'll add my title, etc permanently to my signature. Thanks for the suggestion.

Kristin Lenz said...

Good thinking, Heather, and so true about your different worlds colliding. It's one thing to share your writing with sympathetic writer friends and a whole new level of vulnerability to share with the public.

I guess it's time I figure out how to set up some different email signatures - I continue to type it in myself selectively each time!

Katie McGarry said...

You also have to be careful to not make your e-mail signature too long. Sometimes that can annoy people. I like what you came up for yours Heather!

Carolina Valdez Miller said...

This cracks me up. I'm the same, keeping my worlds apart, or I've attempted to. Until it hit me that I was sending emails to teachers and the like with my email signature, as this is the first year I started using my professional email instead of our family email since my husband never checks it. It was also strange to have church and school people reading my blog because they knew I'd be posting about my Haiti mission on it. I've always felt a little exposed just being present anywhere online, but wow, nothing like having your daughter's orchestra director or pastor read your blog to make you feel cracked open. But you're right--email sigs are free advertising, and you want the whole world to buy your books. Not just other book people.

Ann Finkelstein said...

I'm still keeping my worlds separate, but now I'm reconsidering. I'll admit that some of the people in my former profession have been unspeakably rude about my struggling writing career, so I'm hesitant to put my blog URL out there for everyone to see.

Kurt Hampe said...

Good posting Heather. I have heard of one or two instances were spam filters flagged signature blocks that contained web links. That said, I think it's worth bragging on yourself whenever you can. Word of mouth is not only the cheapest form of advertising, it's probably the most effective at building a long-term audience.

Colette Ballard said...

Nice post, Heather! I've always kept my worlds separate too, but this email signature is something to consider. Maybe I'll actually do it--right after i set up a Facebook page.... and a twitter account.... and basically join the twenty first century: )

Heather Smith Meloche said...

Good point, Katie, about being sure that the signature stays a good length so it doesn't overwhelm the email recipient. Rotating different sigs helps to get all your credits out there. And, Kurt, your warning about filters flagging links is a good one. Something to think about.

Anonymous said...


Emma said...

Nice post. I like the point that you have discussed about email signature. Email signature is something that people should ensure it is complete, up to date and informative.