Importance of Email Signatures with Award-Winning Author

Your Email Signature: Choosing Courteous and Great Marketing

By Carolyn Howard-Johnson

Borrowed from Carolyn’s free #SharingwithWriters newsletter that has been helping writers succeed since 2003.

In a public e-mail to her clients, someone near and dear to me (an expert) said most people look at the first two lines of an email. That’s it. They aren’t interested in fishing through pages of post-signature blather. People need to have ways to learn about you, not reasons to put up shields.” She advised three or four lines, tops.

Boy, did that set me off. So, these people we send mail to are in such a hurry that they’d rather spend time looking in dozens of places for the information that could just as easily have been in the contact’s e-mail signature?

Here’s my rant—er . . . rebuttal:

My old friend, I so disagree with this.

For one thing, there are no fast rules. Much depends on a writer’s preferred genre. Another depends on the author’s personality. But more than that, I view a signature as a courtesy. Put that word in caps! COURTESY!

There is nothing more annoying than getting an e-mail from someone who doesn't have proper contact information in it. And the trouble is, depending on what the recipient plans to do with the email, it is difficult for the sender to know exactly what will make the life of that contact easier.

Will she need your website address? Will including your Twitter moniker help her in some way? Won't the repeated visual of your book cover to your contacts help your branding? And if your contact has seen your cover before, will it hurt her that much to see it again? Especially considering that old marketing advice based on research that people need to see something seven times before they act on it.

And don't you––as an author or someone whose business it is to help authors--want to sell as many books as possible and to get as much media attention as possible?

In the PR world the winner is the person who makes it easiest on the gatekeeper to do her job. It is a busy world. She doesn't need to be searching for information, especially information that could easily go into a signature.

To arbitrarily tell anyone how to sign their emails without any idea of the tone or purpose of the email seems presumptuous to me. When signatures eliminate something that will help me help them, I may get annoyed. Depending on how busy I am, I may move on to greener fields (meaning a source that understands this gatekeeper’s needs and respects her time!)

I hope you will consider this alternative view. Many authors are already far too reluctant to get the word about their books out there. Having agents, publishers or even fellow authors tell them to arbitrarily limit information in their signatures may encourage their reluctance to do right by their books—and their own careers.

Here is the signature (with permission) used by an author and director of several South Florida book fairs. It could be flashier (maybe include some social network addresses), but it is also quiet enough for most authors to feel comfortable with a similar one:

Hugs, [Yes, hugs. Even rants are mostly designed to help and make enemies!]


Carolyn Howard-Johnson is a former journalist, retailer, and marketer who started publishing how-to books for writers for the classes she taught for UCLA Extension’s renowned Writers’ Program. Members of the California Legislature named her Woman of the Year in Arts and Entertainment. Learn more about her how-to books and her creative writing at Learn more about book promotion (and avoiding being the reluctant book promoter!) in her The Frugal Book Promoter and the rest of the multi award-winning HowToDoItFrugally Series of books for write Subscribe to her #SharingwithWriters newsletter at where you’ll find a great free Writers’ Resource section, too. The newsletter subscription form is at the top right of almost every page.


  1. Email signatures are important marketing tools for most everyone! Hope everyone will check it out. So much information out there is counter productive. Karen Cioffi-Ventrice

  2. Carolyn, thanks for this post. As you mentioned, email signatures are an important marketing tool and one that's easy for everyone to take advantage of. I have to get a better handle on my own!

  3. Carolyn, Great wisdom here in this article about email signatures. I've varied mine over the years and continue to change it from time to time. I think it is important to experiment with them yet keep using them.

    Straight Talk From the Editor

  4. Thank you Carolyn for your kind words about my signature line! My thoughts are to keep it simple but offer enough information for the reader to get in touch with me.

  5. Thank you, Carolyn, for your informative article. I appreciate signatures that tell me what the author is about, and allow me to investigate the authors' work further. It saves me time. Just for the record, I read more than the first few lines of emails.


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