Today we’re tackling author newsletters. Do we need one? Do they sell books? Does a human sacrifice help?
Last time I posted at length about sales, namely what it is, what it isn’t, and why we shouldn’t be afraid of it. Science proves that, the better writers are at sales, the more books they sell. Sort of like studies show that people who have more birthdays live longer.
You’re welcome 😀 .
Alas, whenever I blog about marketing or sales, inevitably a commenter or five mentions author newsletters. How other authors swear by them and so why oh why do I hate them?
First of all, I don’t hate newsletters. Correction. I don’t hate ALL newsletters. More on that in a bit.
Newsletters are a tool, and tools are neither good or bad. Should you want to cut down a dead tree, chainsaws are awesome. Want to settle a dispute with that coworker who keeps stealing your lunch from the company fridge? Chainsaws are BAD…and HR is far scarier anyway.
Before we get into pros and cons, dos and don’ts, think long and hard about why you’re considering a newsletter at all.
All My Friends Have Newsletters
In my book Rise of the Machines: Human Authors in a Digital World, I take a lot of time explaining the various ways we now can publish—legacy, indie, small press, self-pub, hybrid, etc. All publishing paths have pros and cons.
How we publish is a business decision only we can make. Newsletters are the same. Like all other business decisions, newsletters require forethought and honesty.
Just like we shouldn’t rush out to self-publish because a member of our writing group is suddenly bathing in crisp Benjamins, we shouldn’t dive into creating a newsletter simply because another author swears they sell books faster than a donut shop across from a police station.
We only have 24 hours in a day. Time is a nonrenewable resource, which means we’re wise to use the time we have effectively. For writers, our priority is to dedicate time to writing books. The more books, the better. This said, the ways we then cultivate a fan base—actual humans who will BUY those books—should be selected with care.
Most authors will still have to work a day job, care for family, needy pets and also build a social media platform. A successful newsletter requires one critical factor to make it anything other than one more reason to take up heavy drinking.
What’s that factor?
In my last post, I also talked about the trust gap. Too many businesses (and writers) want to skip building relationships and get right to selling. The problem is that, in the 21st century marketplace, relationships ARE our business. People buy from who they KNOW and who they LIKE.
We’re in an age of unprecedented abundance and choice, and most consumers are overwhelmed. This means the consumers’ comfort zone contracts at twelve times the rate the number of choices expands.
Don’t argue, it’s ‘science.’
For instance, when faced with seventy-five different pasta sauces at the nearby Central Market, my brain vapor locks. Though I could have chosen the organic, non GMO, vegan, cruelty-free marinara made with only free-range heirloom tomatoes, I grab a jar of whatever I bought last time.
And make a mental note to google what the heck an ‘heirloom tomato’ actually is, aside from pretentious and ‘meta.’
Pasta sauce companies hire smiling people in hairnets to hand out samples in order to bridge the trust gap. They KNOW there’s a ton of competition and that, unless they want to compete on price, they’re going to have to make the first move to connect with US.
Also, that connection is going to COST them…because charging for free samples defeats the purpose of a free sample.
One taste of a free-range heirloom tomato might be all I need to forgo Ragu forever, making Meta Sauce my new go-to when I fall off—then under the wheels of—the low-carb bandwagon.
Anyway, the free sample of Meta Sauce serves a purpose other than propping up the hairnet industry. The company uses the sample to gain advantage through connection. Since I’ve tasted Meta Sauce, it holds a major advantage over the wall of UNKNOWNS and increases the odds I’ll buy a jar.
Without traction, what happens? We’re left spinning our wheels going nowhere. Or we careen into oncoming traffic and everyone dies.
Congratulations, your newsletter is now a French film.
I hope you’re happy.
Many authors sing the praises of the newsletter, yet if we pay close attention, the newsletter in and of itself isn’t the whole picture. Authors who have successful newsletters have built some sort of relationship with those on their mailing list.
They FIRST established rapport and built relationships via a blog, speaking engagements, social media, a backlist of books readers enjoy, or a combination of any of these.
THEN they created a newsletter.
There’s an excellent book I highly recommend by Scott and Alison Stratton called UnMarketing. Though Scott and Alison aren’t specifically teaching writers, their methods are spot on (namely because they’re a lot like what I’ve been preaching since 2007).
Scott and Alison mention the idea of traction –> momentum –> expansion. Which was why I was all YES…THIS!
I get a LOT of emails (usually after conference season) from new and now panicked writers who believe they need to create a newsletter RIGHT AWAY! My job is to talk them off the ledge and explain they’re suffering PCSD—Post Conference Stress Disorder.
Odd are, some marketing guru informed them social media was a total waste of time and that NEWSLETTERS were the Golden Ticket. Maybe newsletters are the Golden Ticket. To me, they feel more like the Golden Tickets Willy Wonka handed out.
You know, there’s a nasty catch.
Instead of a day of sweets and fun, kids disappear one by one on a tour led by a psychopath. Instead of selling a bazillion books, writers disappear one by one.
The reason writers go missing is they grow weary of failure. Many who message me about how to write a newsletter haven’t even finished the BOOK. Funny how so many gurus fail to mention that having a finished book first is A PRETTY BIG DEAL.
*left eye twitches*
Building a strong, healthy newsletter that people love is a lot like dating. The results are far better when the other party goes along willingly.
Sure, chloroforming a hot college coed and chaining her to a radiator guarantees she’s not going anywhere. But as my mother always told me, ‘Kristen, relationships built on duct tape always require more duct tape’ …which now seems like really odd advice.
But it works for our lesson today, so we’re rolling with it.
Newsletters are most effective when people on our list made a deliberate choice to BE on our list. We reached out to others, established a bond over kitten videos and a mutual love for serial killer documentaries, and then mentioned subscribing to our newsletter.
And they did.
This is traction. Once we gain traction, we can then build momentum and momentum is essential to expansion.
The problem with many newsletters is they’re too often viewed as shortcuts. Social media requires we invest time, energy, and emotional capital over a period of months or years. Newsletters are there to help bypass that icky job of talking to people before asking for their money.
It’s much faster to plunk down cash for a list of emails and blast a newsletter far and wide. In case y’all haven’t seen the transition, this is no longer a newsletter. It’s morphed into direct marketing (spam).
Spam is the inbred cousin of the newsletter. It’s about as welcome as the distant relative who moves in uninvited, drinks all the good whiskey and pawns your electronics to buy lotto tickets.
News About Newsletters
Yes, they can be effective if the list is populated with actual fans who wanted the newsletter in the first place. I already mentioned the folly of buying subscribers. But there are also sites that will force us to give an email before we can see the thing we clicked to see.
This reminds me of college and the guy who wouldn’t go away until I gave him my phone number. Poor Domino’s.
*Ponders how many AoL emails are captured this way*
Numbers of emails alone are no great indicator of anything but…um, numbers of emails. There’s this thing called an ‘open rate.’ It doesn’t matter if a million people receive our newsletter if no one opens it.
Also, if they do open our newsletter, does the content inside compel a click-through and purchase?
If you’re killing yourself with a newsletter and no one’s opening, or if they’re opening they aren’t buying? That’s a waste of time spent better ways. Like writing more books. OR being present on our social platform of choice strengthening relationships.
If you’ve subscribed to a newsletter you love, can’t wait to receive and always open and act…take time to consider WHY. Can you replicate what they’re doing in your own unique way?
Tips for Newsletter Success
- Finish the book before starting a newsletter (otherwise it’s kinda…weird);
- Create relationships before asking for subscribers;
- Real friends can’t be bought. Earn subscribers instead of buying email lists;
- Offer something of value that can ONLY be accessed via your newsletter;
- Go easy on how often we hear from you. How can we miss you if you won’t go away?
What Are Your Thoughts?
Do you enjoy doing a newsletter and have some tips? Are there newsletters you can’t wait to see in your In Box? Why? What makes them special to you? But for those who dig newsletters, tell us why. We’d love to hear your perspective, tips, advice, etc.
Or are you like me and afraid of your email? I’ve given up changing emails to escape the newsletter spam. I blog, so for now, a newsletter not in my immediate game plan.
Do you prefer free-range tomatoes or ones kept in cages?
I love hearing from you!
What do you WIN? For the month of JUNE, for everyone who leaves a comment, I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly. I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novel, or your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).
Class Title: Building a Believable Steampunk World
Instructor: Cait Reynolds
Price: $50.00 USD Standard
Where: W.A.N.A. Digital Classroom
When: FRIDAY, July 20, 2018. 7:00-9:00 p.m. EST
Who doesn’t love some steampunk cosplay? Corsets, goggles, awesome hats…
Steampunk has become one of the hottest genres today, crossing the lines of YA, NA, and adult fiction. It seems like it’s fun to write because it’s fun to read.
However, there’s a world of difference between the amateur steampunk writer and the professional steampunk author, and the difference lies in the world they create.
Is your steampunk world historically-accurate enough not to jar the reader out of the narrative with anachronisms? Does your world include paranormal as well as steampunk? Are the gadgets and level of sophistication in keeping with the technologies available at the time?
Steampunk is not an excuse to take short-cuts with history. Good writing in this genre requires a solid grasp of Victorian culture and history, including the history of science, medicine, and industry.
This shouldn’t scare you off from writing steampunk, but it should encourage you to take this class and learn how to create a world that is accurate, consistent and immersive.
This class will cover a broad range of topics including:
- Not-So-Polite Society: Just how prim and Victorian do you want to get?
- Grime and Gears: How to research Victoriantechnology, science, medicine, and industry without dying of boredom?
- Putting the ‘Steamy’ in Steampunk: How to obey (and more importantly, break) Victorian rules of romance;
- Keeping it Real…ish: How to drop in historical details without info-dumping, and how to describe and explain your steampunk innovations without confusing.
A recording of this class is also included with purchase.
Class Title: World-Building for Dystopian Fiction
Instructor: Cait Reynolds
Price: $50.00 USD Standard
Where: W.A.N.A. Digital Classroom
When: Friday, July 27, 2018. 7:00-9:00 p.m. EST
There’s no greater fear than fearing what dwells deep in the dark corners of human nature. Dystopian literature, for all its bells and zombie whistles, shines an unforgiving light on all those shadows.
Can’t think of any dystopian-genre books off the top of your head? How about:
Farenheit 451, The Hunger Games, The Handmaid’s Tale, 1984, The Lorax, The Stand, Neuromancer, Ender’s Game, Divergent, World War Z, Underground Airlines, Brave New World, Ready Player One, A Clockwork Orange, and Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (just to name a few…)
Still, it’s a challenging genre to write. Done badly, dystopian fiction is the equivalent of that emo kid down the hall in your dorm who drinks way too much coffee and just won’t quit playing The Cure.
Done well? We get the dangerous thrill of skidding close to the edge of moral insanity, looking through a mirror darkly and seeing ourselves and our neighbors, and a hyper-creative outlet that combines the dubious fun of post-apocalyptic totalitarianism (zombies optional) with chilling truths about human nature.
Topics covered in this class include:
- Having fun with things you shouldn’t: why destroying society is just so much fun!
- ‘First Fright’ vs. ‘True Fright’: sure, we’re afraid of enforced barcode tattoos because totalitarianism!…but maybe we’re really afraid because it really sounds so seductively convenient;
- Picking and choosing ‘normal’: how to balance having enough familiarities with society today with creating shocking changes that go right to the heart of our fears;
- Fear leads to the dark side (unless you’re already there): creating dystopian characters that invite both shock and sympathy;
- To apocalypse or not to apocalypse: do we really need nuclear fallout or an alien invasion…or can we do it all ourselves?
- Playing with your food: how to put a new and unique spin on zombies, aliens, and food shortages (i.e. asking critical questions like whether Soylent Green is gluten-free).
A recording of this class is also included with purchase.
About the Instructor
Cait Reynolds is a USA Today Bestselling Author and lives in Boston area with her husband and neurotic dog. She discovered her passion for writing early and has bugged her family and friends with it ever since. She likes history, science, Jack Daniels, jewelry, pasta, and solitude. Not all at the same time. When she isn’t enjoying the rooftop deck that brings her closer to the stars, she writes.
BRAND NEW CLASS IN AUGUST!
Instructor: Kristen Lamb
Price: $50.00 USD Standard
Where: W.A.N.A. Digital Classroom
When: Thursday August 9th, 2018 7:00-9:00 p.m. EST,
Writers are in the entertainment business. Notice the second half of our job title is business. The lifeblood of all business is sales.
But, to be blunt, most creative professionals would rather be stabbed in the face than ‘do sales.’ Yet, if we don’t sell books, our career is doomed (regardless of how we publish).
One of the MAJOR reasons so many people are afraid of sales is because what’s being taught as ‘sales’ is actually ‘direct marketing.’
Direct marketing is NOT sales. It IS, however, pushy, icky, and hasn’t been effective since The Spice Girls were cool.
Sales can be fun. In fact, believe it or not, humans are wired for sales. It’s part of our biology. Problem is, humans are also wired to overcomplicate things…which is why so many of us freak out over sales.
This class is to remove the fear factor and clarify what selling entails for the professional author. Not all products are sold the same way…which is why there are no late-night infomercials hawking Hadron Colliders or F-16 fighter jets. Our sales approach must align with the product we’re selling, or we’re doomed before we begin.
This class will cover:
- Why direct marketing doesn’t sell books;
- Tame wasters versus time savers;
- How to be paid what we are worth;
- Ways we can make ads, promotions and marketing far more effective;
- The unique way books must be sold;
- How to set goals and create a scalable strategy;
- Explore the S.W.O.T. analysis and why we need one;
- How to differentiate our brand and product in an over-saturated marketplace;
- AND MORE!
***A FREE recording is included with class purchase.
I hear you on newsletters.
I hate receiving them. I unsubscribe to any that grab my e-mail, or I mark them as spam so gmail automatically tosses them in the spam folder.
I don’t like any newsletters.
I read my share of books. I get almost all of my book recommendations from a single book blog website or my “Amazon recommends” followed by a quick skim through reviews.
I do not read blogs of authors I like. I do not follow them on Facebook or Twitter or whatever. Amazon is plenty adept at telling me when they have a new book coming out.
Based on how I purchase, I have to confess, I am still not sure about all this marketing stuff. Maybe I am not the average reader…
I’m still trying to understand why emails and e-mailed newsletters are a successful way to market my novel. My sense is that they once were a successful strategy that’s outlived its usefulness in our eight-second-attention-span society. I don’t want free ebook offers, et al mucking up my inbox. I follow several blogs (like this one), and that’s where I’m putting my effort, along with social media, which I enjoy. I would like to reach more readers, though, so when I hear those marketing gurus waxing enthusiastic over inbox invasions, it always gives me pause for thought. Maybe my own aversion isn’t echoed in the market.
Thanks for another great read! (Way more than an eight-second attention span here!)
I prefer blogs over newsletters. Blogs are evergreen and search engines help new ‘fans’ discover you. I’m like you. I subscribe to blogs not newsletters and usually the blogger will have posted if there is a special or new book for sale. I DO NOT NEED MORE EMAIL. Thanks for the blog love, Cyndi.
I know some authors swear by them but I imagine those lists were cultivated before social media took over. So dunno. To each his own.
Hi Cyndi, author newsletters are extremely important to not only a books success but to an authors success as well. It provides a way for you to be in direct contact with your readers and keep yourself as an author in the forefront of your mind. I have more advice for authors on my blog http://www.melissahawkes.com
I look forward to these blog posts because I know I’m going to laugh, smile, learn something new and helpful, or all three in one ^.^
I’m honestly not sure how to take this. I’m a new romance author and I’m participating in a Bookfunnel giveaway right now that requires an email address to get a copy of the little book I wrote with the intention of building my mailing list. There are now some 400 people who’ve downloaded my book and agreed to let me email them. It’s a captive audience of people who might actually enjoy my work and who didn’t even know who I was a few days ago. I don’t have another finished book to try and sell to them, so I’m planning to let them in on how it’s going as I write the next book. I consider them friends I’m trying to get to know by being the one to start the conversation. I think that’s a good thing.
Keep us posted 🙂 .
Consider networking with other authors to provide content–new books from similar authors, or sale books from similar authors (you don’t even have to KNOW them) reviews of your favorite books (don’t have to be new books) and anything YOU’D like to read in a newsletter! Make it fun–for you and for them and don’t be discouraged if some unsubscribe. That’s perfectly normal. You’ll love having that NL when your latest book is published!
How can we miss you if you won’t go away?
Bwahahahahahahaha! Ok…I need to stop laughing long enough to breathe!
I subscribe to a good number of blogs and newsletters. Blog reading depends on what mood I’m in compared to what they blog about–I open maybe 20% of what comes in my email. I poke my head in to the newsletters at about the same rate, but the one that I open about 50% of the time goes like this:
1. nice header
2. ONE paragraph about what she’s up to, writing, real life, whatever
3. 1-3 books in her genre that are on sale this week (and I click relatively often)
1. a short sign off.
Quick to glance at and worth it to open.
Thank you for this. I do have a newsletter, but I procrastinate putting it together. Especially when the numbers show maybe half even open it and few book sales result. I post information on Facebook about life events, book releases, and where I’ll be speaking. While I realize some of my fans don’t do Facebook, I feel I get more “traction” with Facebook. I Tweet and “Gram,” too. On FB, I have both a personal page and an “author & speaker” page. And the numbers of “subscribers” there are way more than the newsletter subscribers. No, I don’t pound them incessantly with “buy my book.” I do mention what I’m working on, my progress or lack of progress, where I’ll be speaking. I sprinkle the promo in lightly.
You’re right: I’d much rather put my time (and angst) into getting that next novel out.
Maybe what I’ll do is send out a newsletter when I have a new book coming out (twice a year) and include personal stuff and author & speaker stuff.
I do my own newsletter with Mail Chimp and don’t pay someone to do it for me, and I really don’t feel like putting it together more than that. I think I get more response on FB.
Amen, Kristen! If I could, I’d give this post a hug. Every week I have to unsubscribe or send to spam at least a dozen newsletters from writers I’ve never heard of who write in genres I don’t read. They’re usually telling me I have to vote for them in some contest or give them reviews because they only have 200 and Amazon won’t let them be bestsellers without 2000 reviews or whatever the current misinformation is. Newsletters only work for fans. If you have no fans, don’t send newsletters. And if you have a good blog, you don’t need a newsletter, because the blog works just the same except it attracts NEW readers, while a newsletter is a closed system.
I only add people to my tiny newsletter mailing list that I’ve met at a signing or similar event. They have shown interest in or purchased one of my books. Of course, they can sign up via my web site, too. I’m just feeling my way along for now and have only sent out a couple so far. But I have been told by other authors that I MUST have a newsletter and that I MUST give away a book or books to entice/reward signups. Which so far I have resisted. I find it incredibly time-consuming trying to put one together and following all the “rules” about how to do it. Which explains why I’ve only done a couple…
Have you ever read Fiona Farrell’s poem “Song of the Vagabond Tomato”? Well worth a look!
I don’t have a newsletter, but I do have a list people can sign up to if they want to hear news like “new book!”. This doesn’t happen very often, because it’s not where I’m doing my interacting – that’s on the blog. The last thing I want to do is clutter up people’s inboxes with a whole lot of nothing.
This! You have neatly summed up how I feel about newsletters.
Here’s the thing: I like getting a NL update from a favorite author when they are releasing a new story. That’s why I subscribed! But when I sign up for a newsletter and get hit with something every week or so, I quickly unsubscribe. If I wanted the nitty gritty of what’s going on in the author’s life, I’d follow them on social media.
I’m uncomfortable with advice that tells me I need to flood my list with emails every week. If that happens to me, I unsubscribe. Frankly, I get over 150+ emails per day. I don’t open 97% of the newsletters I get.
Following the advice of others, I used to do the NL swaps and the giveaways to build my list. Now I figure if someone wants to sign up, good on them.
Thanks for so much for this Kristen. Personally, I never could see the fascination with newsletters. I’ve lost count how many times I have seen ‘experts’ saying you *have* to build that mailing list, it makes me want to scream. I much prefer to read blogs where I can actually engage in discussions if I want to and help build relationships. Just like in this post where you had me when you started talking about psychopaths and serial killers. 😉
I love newsletters. Some newsletters. I subscribe to some successful authors whose books I don’t even read but I know who do their newsletters well, just so I can see how what they do. I prefer to see an update in my inbox that will keep reminding me that there is something there to read until I either archive it or read it. Even for your blog, Kristen, the only way I read it is through the email your feed sends out for each post. Sometimes, I don’t have time to read them right away. So I read them later. When my inbox becomes too full, or if I find that I’m consistently archiving a newsletter before reading it, I unsubscribe. That’s how easy it is. I don’t like the spammy ways that some sites ask for sign ups, but if I give someone my email address, I definitely want to hear from them at least once.
I am re-reading Rise of the Machines and kicked over here tonight to see what else I might learn. I would love to blog, and I feel bad about emailing folks, hence why those on my tiny list only hear from me about once every 3 to 6 months. Not to mention, I want to come home and write books not emails. I’m lost to tell the truth. I have no clue what to blog about, and do you put that on your social media page, from your author page or from your personal page. Man who knew writing a book would be the easy part! 😀
Writing a book an excellent book is easy (about as easy as performing brain surgery 😛 ). In fairness writing is simple (far different from easy), but so is branding and selling. We tend to overcomplicate things because we are afraid of these tasks, and there are businesses that make money overcomplicating things further to inflame that fear so we’ll hand over fists of cash if they will ‘just make it all go away.’
While highly skilled PR experts, marketers and promoters are incredibly valuable, a) not all are highly skilled and most are not skilled at all (too many claim the title and have no real expertise, experience, or the ability to deliver what they promise) and b) while the authentic marketing professionals are fantastic, they can’t spin gold from the ether. And if they CAN, they they’re likely busy working in Hollywood and out of our budget.
If we think of this analytically, no PR agency in the world could land a restaurant not-yet-open or one that serves no food a Zagat rating.
What ad agency could sell an unknown car brand to consumers only halfway through the prototype? It can be done, but only if there is an established and revered BRAND. An excellent example are the Tesla cars because TESLA was already more than a brand, Nikola Tesla was an ICON. Yet, some random manufacturer no one has ever heard of?
What promotion company could save a business that only opened when it was in the mood (the muse happened by and so I opened my financial planning office)?
We have to give a product(s) book(s) as well as an already established presence on-line (WE are the brand) for pros to work with and for these experts to possess something they can ACTUALLY EXPAND. Remember traction has to come FIRST. This is the part WE do. THEN, if we want, true experts can increase our momentum which, in turn, feeds our brand expansion.
But too many writers are intimidated by even creating traction for any number of reasons (usually deep down they know their book is not market-ready) and they want someone else to do the part really only THEY (the author) can do. Unfortunately there are areas we simply cannot outsource.
A chef cannot outsource creating exquisite cuisine, a stylist cannot outsource re-imagining hair color in a new way customers would want, a baker cannot outsource creating cakes that look so real no one wants to cut the first slice. These professions have to finish and craft something new, exciting, enticing that PR people, marketers, and ad people can THEN run with.
But an overcooked steak, a haircut that looks like when my mom used a bowl on my head, or a cake that would rival a Pinterest fail aren’t ready for market. No amount of PR, ads, promotions is going to change that the product isn’t ready, and these professionals are not in the business of finishing OUR business. And, if we give them a half-baked cake missing ingredients to run with…well, there is only so much that they can do.
And THANK YOU for buying Rise of the Machines! And for leaving a comment. I appreciate that SO much.
One of the things I heard at the Book Baby Conference (next one is in November; Joanna Penn is speaking) was to not let your personal experience influence things that you do. I’m overwhelmed by email at work, so my tendency is to not like newsletters even at home. But, as noted at the conference, that doesn’t mean everyone else is overwhelmed by email enough to not like newsletters.
My book Crying Planet was just in StoryBundle, and I got an email from someone who read and enjoyed the book. He wanted to sign up for newsletter. Eep. Now I’m having to think about what I will do with one.
Whike I’m not advocating writers use NLs for marketing, I do enjoy a well-conceived NL that is entertaining or useful. In fact, the reason I found this blog post is from a mention and link inside a newsletter.
A handful of authors have converted me into a loyal fan with their NL marketing efforts (serialization is the conversion tool I personally respond well to), but I appreciate any thoughtfully designed communication. (The reader as the focus, not the author’s needs.)
The least successful NL marketing approach for me is the NL which arrives to my inbox out of the blue with a “buy my book” or “vote for me” message. I often don’t remember who the author is and feel no connection to his or her pitch so either I unsubscribe or (worse) lazily delete the NL but remain on the author’s list as dead weight.
I’ve been kicking around ideas for a newsletter, now that I have 9 books under my belt. But I’m still not feeling bona fide yet, somehow. Maybe after books 10 & 11, which are in the works. 🙂
Enjoyed your thoughts on NLs. I’d disagree with one point–it actually doesn’t matter how you START your newsletter very much, even if you have to go in with other authors in a giveaway to get one started (or do your own giveaway and take out advertising to build the list). It’s how you act AFTER you have that list that is most important. Yes, you’ll always lose some non-organic subscribers (ones who aren’t your fans already, who probably signed up because of the giveaway or “Free.”) I find NLs very helpful–mine and a few other authors. I read several. I don’t stay signed up for all of them, but I find it very useful to see what they talk about, how they promote their own stuff, etc. The most useful NLs for me as a reader are ones that include honest reviews, maybe a few new releases and potentially the opportunity for a free short story. Some authors go too long. Some too short. But I do think newsletters are effective tools, especially for selling–be it your books or other books. I do exchange mentions with authors every NL. This is time consuming because I have to find books that are a good fit for my NLs, the timing of sale prices has to be right and so on. But after a year of working with my current newsletter subscribers, I see few unsubscribes. I think I’m sending interesting books to check out, good sale prices and the occasional giveaway. It works for me. I continue to subscribe to other newsletters to get new ideas and keep content fresh–and build that all-important relationship that you blogged about!
Hey, like I said, not totally opposed but seen too many NLs done very poorly and curious what a GOOD one is like. Thanks for the feedback. That DOES sound like a good way to do an NL and I SO appreciate your time!
I loathe author newsletters too. The ‘I’ve just had a story accepted here’ and ‘Ooh, here’s the cover for my new book’ ones are the most irritating. To be honest, I cannot see, as a reader, why I would want an author newsletter. Therefore, why should I write one as a writer?
I like newsletters. I developed my preferred way of consuming the Internet fifteen years ago when me and the ‘net were young and it’s moved on and no one’s forced me to, so I haven’t. I especially like them now I don’t use RSS any more. It’s nice to have some email that I actually look forwards to instead of inane ‘special’ offers that I can’t mark as spam because I very occasionally buy something from them and updates on petitions that I can’t remember signing. Oh, and push notifications. I hate them.
There are a few authors I follow on Twitter, but… How do you even stay up-to-date with authors these days? 240 characters isn’t enough for me to feel like I know you.
I agree on all points. You can easily wear out your welcome with newsletters.
You are really funny! This article made me click on your author profile on Amazon. Once I finish the pile of books I’m currently into, I want to read yours.
I don’t have much to say about newsletters. I am a newbie with my debut novel, Sisters of the Silk Veil, only released last month. I do know I plan to only send newsletters to those who have signed up via my website.
Thank you for your information and your delightful wit!
I just stumbled upon your post about newsletters and laughed out loud, then my mischievous muse clicked the SUBSCRIBE button. I did a revamping of my author newsletter last week, in an attempt to increase the amount of “opens” because they have been pretty shabby lately. (Very few unsubscriptions, though.) I, too, would rather blog than write newsletters, which I send to my subscriber list on a monthly basis.
Thanks for the laughs and great insight. I’ve written and published six books, and the marketing has been the greatest challenge. Oh—and as a compassionate vegetarian—I definitely prefer free-range tomatoes!
I agree with most of those who say they dislike subscribing to get an author’s email or blog. I don’t “subscribe” to any anymore after often being inundated with emails, bored to death by the newsletters and blogs I received, or finding it the dickens to unsubscribe. Because my fans kept asking for both though (I’ll soon have twenty books out) … I finally gave in a few years ago and started both a monthly newsletter and a monthly blog – finally. To be less annoying, I chose to put both my short newsletter (what’s up and what’s happening) and my longer blog entry (on some subject of interest with visuals) on my author website. The newsletter is under the “Newsletter” tab created for it, the blog under the “Blog” tab created for it. At events, book signings, and on social media, I let my fans know I have both and that I post both at the first of the month….The newsletter changes out every month; the blog is archived. This has worked well for me. My fans who like to read my stuff and who enjoy newsletters and blogs can find me themselves at their convenience and avoid having to get yet more emails to week through and avoid having to subscribe to keep up with me. … You can check out what I do at: http://www.linstepp.com