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In a world where so much written communication goes through some form of electronic device, it’s tempting to cut and paste our bio, or add some kind of advertisement about our blog, website or latest novel, to just about every email or message we send.

The thing is, if we’re not careful, the ‘message’ the other person receives might be quite different from the one we intended, and not in a good way.

Just as having a bio and blurb that’s as long as your guest post on someone else’s blog might give the wrong impression, the same goes for those little self-advertisement thingies that we put below our name. 

After all, what we’re really saying with that post-message link or blurb is, ‘Check out my website/blog,’ or ‘I’ve a book for sale, maybe you’d like to buy it.

That’s not to say they’re a bad idea, but if you ask me, in this case less is most definitely more. 

Personally, I don’t use a post message blurb at all (yet), but if ever I do, I’m going to make a list of occasions when I refrain from adding it. 
These include:

Any kind of congratulatory email/message.

Any kind of commiseration email/message.

Any kind of supportive email/message.

“Wait a minute.” I hear you say. “Isn’t this what networking’s all about? There's a big chunk of potential blog traffic/sales potential in amongst these kinds of messages. In this day and age, don't we need to get the word out about ourselves and our work at every opportunity?”

I’m all for networking. I think it can have a huge impact on the 21st century writer’s career, but I also believe we need to be subtle about it.  There’s a time and a place for everything.  For example; Imagine you received one of the above messages from a friend who then stuck a PS: on the end of his (or her) “Sorry to hear about your Mom’s accident” note, asking if you wanted to buy some property insurance. I doubt you’d be impressed.

To be fair, I don’t believe the folks who do this realize the potential message they’re sending, but I think it’s something we should consider carefully before adding that 'read me/follow me/buy my book' blurb to our emails etc.

Of course, as always, I could be wrong. 

How about you?

What's your take on those info/blurbs people put beneath their name on emails and message thingies?

 





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Comments

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kmarkhoover
Apr. 26th, 2010 03:58 pm (UTC)
I don't like them and I don't use them. I find them intrusive. It's like you receiving an email from a friend only for it to end "And now, a message from our sponsors...."

If I have news I'll either publish about it, or email my friends and tell them about it. But I don't include links below my signature for stuff like that.

It's probably just me, but I find it crass.
smeddley
Apr. 26th, 2010 04:13 pm (UTC)
Great, now I totally want to do that just to be obnoxious...

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jongibbs
Apr. 26th, 2010 04:26 pm (UTC)
Another potential problem with them is that, when they are a permanent part of the sender's email settings, people won't notice them - in the same way we stop noticing a billboard if the advert never changes.
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mtlawson
Apr. 26th, 2010 04:04 pm (UTC)
I used to have a complex sig file back when I had multiple e-mail accounts on the major service providers (AOL, GEnie, Netcomm, etc.) and I wanted people to be able to find me. A pithy quote was required as well, and I used one from either Gen. Nathaniel Greene or Alfred Lord Tennyson. Of course, that whole sig business back then was the equivalent of doing the old "Mine's bigger than yours" comparison, and I kind of grew out of that stage.

Good thing, too, as the more I posted on Usenet the more I discovered that funky and/or complex sigs were often targets of flamers.

Perhaps that's why I'm comfortable simply signing my e-mails/posts/whathaveyou with a simple "Mike L." on the end of it. Even if I ever became a published author, I don't see myself changing what I sign my posts with.

Do other people's sigs drive me crazy? Not really; that's just a choice they made, and while it's not for me perhaps it works for them.
jongibbs
Apr. 26th, 2010 04:28 pm (UTC)
They don't drive me crazy, I just think they can be used too often. As for signing emails, I just put "Jon" or "Jon Gibbs" - unless of course I'm being rude, in which case I use your name and address :P
(no subject) - mtlawson - Apr. 26th, 2010 04:30 pm (UTC) - Expand
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smeddley
Apr. 26th, 2010 04:07 pm (UTC)
The only acceptable thing to routinely put at the end of an e-mail is contact info (which, yes, could include a website address, but no mentions of things for sale, recent books, whatever). And that, only for business/impersonal messages. Friends should never get anything but a name (if you feel that is necessary) and maybe a joke... "Sincerely, Smeddley, Goddess of Ripping Seams". Once a friend signed off with "Cheerio", which sparked a very protracted "sign off with breakfast foods" battle. I still contend that ending with "cold pizza" was completely legal, since it's my favorite breakfast food!

I'm also not fond of smarmy quotes at the end of e-mails, especially when a lot of exchanges are taking place. Think about it like a face-to-face conversation. Would you do this:

"Hey, John, where's the stapler? Live, laugh, love!"
"Uh, it's on the desk"
"Thank you, I need to get this report out now, or Mark will have my head. Don't forget to recycle!"

Of course, I may be one of only a handful of people who read those (I once pointed out a typo in someone's boilerplate confidentiality blurb), but for me it gets annoying because I do see it as part of the message.
jongibbs
Apr. 26th, 2010 04:30 pm (UTC)
Cold pizza? For breakfast? {{shudder}}
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jongibbs
Apr. 26th, 2010 04:33 pm (UTC)
I've seen group blogs where the bio/blurb at the bottom of a guest post is longer than the post itself. I know it's not intentional, but it makes me wonder if the blogger in question was more concerned with getting a free advert than with making a good guest post.

msstacy13
Apr. 26th, 2010 04:45 pm (UTC)
my email sig says "Victory Belongs to the Most Persevering"
and then has links to my amazon author page, my twitter, and my dreamwidth page.
No blurbs, just the links.

I often brazenly suggest that people buy and read my books,
as well as say wonderful things about them,
but you've seen for yourself how well that works.
;)
jongibbs
Apr. 26th, 2010 04:52 pm (UTC)
What is it they say about leading horses to water? ;)
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bogwitch64
Apr. 26th, 2010 05:01 pm (UTC)
Agreed--100%
jongibbs
Apr. 26th, 2010 06:15 pm (UTC)
Thank you :)
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wendigomountain
Apr. 26th, 2010 05:12 pm (UTC)
I think they can be really obnoxious. As though it is some axiom defining one's personality in just a few clever words, attributed to someone who has probably been dead for a number of years, who never met that person, and had met them would recognize immediately that the person probably missed the whole point.

I know a person who has the phrase "To thine own self be true" tattooed on their ankle. This has got to be tattoo fail, considering the context in which those words first appeared in popular culture. Is it irony, is it a transcendence of irony? It is meta fictional? Either way, it gives me a headache, much like a sig line that quotes Heidegger or Kant or Lou Ferrigno.

I think sig lines like this are unnecessary, however, I would not give up my theme music, which plays whenever I walk down the street. I have chosen Issac Hayes's "Theme from Shaft."

Be sure to click this link when you read my posts too. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AAa5rP64YbQ
jongibbs
Apr. 26th, 2010 06:13 pm (UTC)
Lol, that does sound like a bad tattoo. My own says 'This way up' :)
a_r_williams
Apr. 26th, 2010 05:18 pm (UTC)
I agree.

I think it's okay to have maybe two short links. Something small and non-obtrusive. I hate when people have a long paragraph of stuff.
jongibbs
Apr. 26th, 2010 06:18 pm (UTC)
Depending on the message above it, I think whatever someone puts is fine. It just doesn't feel right to pimp my blog/website/novel at the same time as I congratulate someone etc.
clarionj
Apr. 26th, 2010 05:20 pm (UTC)
I'm with you completely on this. I understand that the tag might be just a regular part of the sender's e-mail closing, but it ends up making the e-mail feel sort of generic, and is definitely tasteless and inconsiderate when it's a note of support or commiseration. I might not mind as much on a congratulatory note because that could be a bit of sharing--happy for your good news and here's mine.

What's meant to be a personal note should feel personal not promotional, I guess. That said, when I have friends who use tags, I'm always sort of happy to see them because it reminds me of their good fortune or makes me think of something I like about them. Hmmm... I guess it really depends on what you said above, the point of the letter.
jongibbs
Apr. 26th, 2010 06:20 pm (UTC)
Exactly! If it's a personal message, don't use it, otherwise it gives what is probably a genuine message an insincere look.
sandrawickham
Apr. 26th, 2010 05:29 pm (UTC)
But...but..I have this awesome Firefox add on called Wisestamp that let's you do a really pretty email signature!! LOL. I do have my name in nice font, my email, and all my contact stuff to twitter, facebook etc as tiny icons people can click. Just because I can...lol. And, because I do a lot of promotional work for myself for the fitness biz, and figure one day I'll have to do the same for the writing world. ;)
jongibbs
Apr. 26th, 2010 06:22 pm (UTC)
I think they're great for when we want to promote ourselves. I guess I'm saying that we shouldn't always be promoting ourselves.
peadarog
Apr. 26th, 2010 05:41 pm (UTC)
I use a little one on my email, so I must be OK with them :-)
jongibbs
Apr. 26th, 2010 06:21 pm (UTC)
I've seen that. I must say, not many folks could get away with adding the first three chapters of their lates novel beneath their email signature, but you somehow pull it off well :P
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(no subject) - jongibbs - Apr. 26th, 2010 06:25 pm (UTC) - Expand
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lunalila
Apr. 26th, 2010 05:58 pm (UTC)
I just sign with name and blog url, but don't use it always, just when I feel it's right.
Kind of difficult to understand when it is right and when it isn't but I use my feeling for the message before adding or erasing the signature.
jongibbs
Apr. 26th, 2010 06:15 pm (UTC)
'I use my feeling for the message before adding or erasing the signature.'

Perfect :)
temporus
Apr. 26th, 2010 05:58 pm (UTC)
I have a stock sig file. Just my name and website address. Which is at this point my LJ, because I stopped using my free webhosting site some years ago as I didn't like how the terms of service was changing and forced me to have all kinds of wacky ads over which I had zero control.

Usually, I'm in too much of a hurry to think about it. But sometimes I do, and will cull out the web address. I don't know if it's really advertising me or not. I figure, odds are good that even if my email address ever changes, I'll probably still keep the website. But then, you just never know.

My work email sig is frakking enormous, and I hate it. But it's corporate standard, and I have no choice. I stand by the old school netiquette that says a sig should never be more than four lines, and that less is better.
jongibbs
Apr. 26th, 2010 06:24 pm (UTC)
Some of those corporate add-ons are beyond ridiculous.
latteya
Apr. 26th, 2010 07:00 pm (UTC)
I didn't speak to my husband for a day or so after several messages from him signed "Best Regards..." My friend has "Mom of Champs!" on her text messages. Personally, I don't have anything on mine because one thing wouldn't apply to every situation.
jongibbs
Apr. 26th, 2010 07:04 pm (UTC)
'Best Regards?" hehehehehehe :)

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