POINT OF VIEW: I’m Not Writing, and It’s the EU’s Fault

GDPR

It’s one of those weeks.

As a writer, we like to write. It’s kinda our thing. But often our attention gets called away by other things.

Some of these are life events, big and small – the laundry, a school play, the death of a family member.

Some of these are even writing-related, like the need to promo our books, or if we are self publishing for the first time, to learn the ropes and figure out how to send our new book out into the world. Hello.

And some of them are thrust upon us violently and without warning.

GDPR, I’m looking at you.

For anyone who doesn’t know about this yet, GDPR is a new privacy protection law that went into effect last year in the European Union, but which requires anyone who emails EU citizens or who holds data about them to comply with its new standards.

Big businesses were all over it – in fact, by some estimates, the top 500 companies are spending in the neighborhood of 7 billion dollars to become compliant with its strict requirements.

Unfortunately, most of the rest of us only just realized that this thing was coming, that it affected us and our practices directly, and that if we didn’t immediately change almost everything about our email lists and how we handle data, we risked a fine of $20 million dollars for non compliance.

I shit you not.

Although it’s unlikely they would come after me our our business personally, I, small author with annual sales in the low thousands of dollars, could be required to pay a $20 million dollar fine just for emailing someone who gave me their permission to do so, but not in the new “right” way required by the EU.

And so… I am not writing. Instead, I am spending my days figuring out how to comply with this new, draconian mandate from halfway across the globe.

Essentially, it means I have to ask everyone on my email list to agree to let me email them the “right” way, among other things.

Most writers who comply with the new law will likely lose half or more of their subscribers because of spam filters, apathy, and confusion – lists we have worked for years to build. It’s something we can scarcely afford. But with such a Sword of Damocles hanging over our heads, we have no choice.

On the other hand, businesses who do not comply will gain an unfair advantage if they keep their large email lists – especially if they go unpunished.

I get what they are trying to do. They want to put control of your data back in your own hands. But it’s a terrible implementation of a noble idea that’s going to cost billions upon billions of dollars and will put many folks out of business.

In a few days, you will get an email from me asking you to resubscribe using a new form on my website. If you enjoy my newsletters and/or like my books, I urge you to do so. You can always unsubscribe later if you want.

I hope that my emails bring a little love and light and beauty into your lives.

And to my writer friends – who else out there is feeling freaked out and squeezed by this new law?

2 thoughts on “POINT OF VIEW: I’m Not Writing, and It’s the EU’s Fault

  1. Canada has a similar law. The only part I see is an annual email asking me to confirm my subscription. From the subscriber side, it is simple. So far, my experience with GDPR subscription renewal has been similar.
    In this case, for authors, it will have the effect of ‘cleaning’ their list, that is removing people who are no longer paying attention but haven’t bothered to unsub yet. Based on the way direct marketing lists work the result should be the same or better response from less input effort. I think the reason list cleaning is not a routine part of email list management already is the cost of misdirected emailing is so low that the cost of maintenance is a deterrent.

    • Yeah, I get that. I just wish there’d been more awareness here in the US that this was coming. It caught a lot of folks flat-footed, and has probably cost in the thousands of dollars in money, time and lost writing, etc…

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