Why Your Vanity E-mail might not be in your favor
By Lisa Lickel
I recently attended Wisconsin Writers Association annual conference—well, I taught, too—but the opening group speaker by the savvy Jill Swenson of Swenson Book Development, was an eye-opener. How many of you have sent messages to potential publishers or agents, only to be sure your message fell into the abyss? Maybe it did. Certain Internet Service Providers (ISP), Web hosts, or E-mail servers are “blacklisted.”
Whoa! What does that mean? Well, if you’re unaware of this issue, which I now understand has been around for the past several years, let me enlighten you.
Because of the practice of using a good and positive thing, the Internet, as a weapon of mass advertising, businesses have been forced to use a radical method of protecting themselves from inundation by destructive programs, hackers, and spammers. Certain Internet hosts and providers that are open to anyone looking for anonymous host sites, like burner cell phones, to use for nefarious purposes, have been outright blacklisted. Blocked. You must go through all kinds of steps in order to accept e-mail from these sites—or not.
Most of us have a “spam” folder in our e-mail system. In most personal e-mail programs, you can set your own filter from low to high. I remember joyfully being able to block certain websites and personal e-mailers who regularly spammed me. I didn’t realize back then I was creating my own blacklist. It’s not just unwanted advertising tsunami issues, it’s all that malware. Symantec’s 2014 study says over a million new threats are launched daily. And that was two and a half years ago. When your whole company server can be taken out and all your valuable information destroyed in an instant, not to mention lost time and money to buy and set up a new computer system, no wonder the concern.
How do I get one of my target business people to accept my message? Use an e-mail from a respected ISP, or let them know you’re sending message if you meet them at a conference. If they send a message to you first and you respond and are accepted, then you’re “in.”
Good news is that, currently, Google and Google Apps, which changed its name to G Suite in September 2016 (maybe it grew up?) is the main whitelisted site. You have a gmail address? Yay! It will generally get through. What about my vanity e-mail? The one that says firstname.lastname@example.org? Only if it’s through your gmail account, not a potentially blacklisted ISP, and yes, you can do that. Here’s an article by Chris Gardner at Positek about how to do it.
So, which ISPs are automatically blacklisted? Jill Swenson gave out a few names, one of which I lease my domain name from, but I am uncomfortable sharing those specific names. They include easily recognizable companies which offer inexpensive host sites. Note: buying your domain name and hosting your website through such companies are different. The problem comes in when unscrupulous people set up a host site through these inexpensive ISP and use them to launch viruses or spam. Fair warning: these dangerous domains can change at any time. They can be .org, .com, .net, .ca, and so forth.
How do I make sure my e-mail and ISP doesn’t mistakenly filter out messages I want? Use the instructions in your e-mail program. G Suite has all kinds of good information on adjusting your settings and creating or editing your filters at this link.
Keep your own incoming message filter high, but be aware that your sent messages may be likewise filtered and not have actually reached your target. If you haven’t heard back from a large number of companies to whom you submitted proposals, blacklisting might be the cause. Check your domain through a site like Blacklistalert.org. If your host is blacklisted, drop it like a hot potato and find a new one. And don’t forget to report it.
Above image from Zeendo.com. Used with permission.