Jeanne: Anatomy of a Newsletter

On Friday I sent out my seventh newsletter.

When I started sending out newsletters last summer, just before releasing The Demon Always Wins, I planned on once a quarter. Current marketing wisdom says weekly, but who has something to say that often? Even book-factory authors who spit out books like they’re running an assembly line take six weeks or so to write and release a book. Also, I personally loathe getting author newsletters that frequently. And anything more often than once a week I consider spam and quickly unsubscribe.

Still, over the last few months, I’ve fallen into a monthly pattern because I have had news to share—contest finals, new covers, good stuff.! And now that I have a few newsletters under my belt, I feel like I have some useful ideas on what works.

  1. A header/template that reflects your brand. Here’s mine:

Header

2. News. This goes back to what I was grumbling about earlier. It’s only a newsletter if it contains news. In this case, it was the news that The Demon Always Wins won Best Paranormal Romance and Best First Book in the Detroit RWA Booksellers’ Best contest. It included a picture of my (very hard to photograph) awards: Continue reading

Jilly: Free Shouldn’t Mean Gimcrack

How many of you download free books, stories or novellas from BookBub, or the Zon, or as a reward for signing up for an author newsletter?

Do you expect the quality of the writing to be worse because it’s free?

Stand by for a rant.

I’m on the mailing list of an author whose books I really like. She’s not prolific, but her stories are quality and well worth waiting for. I had a newsletter from her recently, announcing that her new novel would be published shortly. Excellent, I thought. I read on to discover that she’d written a novella-length story in the same world as the upcoming book, and that she was offering it to her mailing list as a free download to thank us for our engagement and to whet our appetites for the new release.

I couldn’t have been happier. I downloaded the free book, made a pot of coffee and got comfortable on the sofa with my Kindle. For about five minutes, tops.

I knew the novella-length story had started life as a character sketch, a discovery exercise to help the author find her way into the next big book. That’s cool. I love those little extras, behind-the-scenes glimpses and secret nuggets. That’s what I was hoping for. Perhaps that’s what it became in the end. I’m not sure, because I abandoned it after skimming the first dozen pages.

I’m not sure whether the author did just dump her discovery notes into Vellum without any thought or editing, but that’s how it read to me. What I read reminded me of the famous Mark Twain quote: “I apologize for such a long letter – I didn’t have time to write a short one.”

Continue reading

Elizabeth: Newsletter Deep Dive

Last week I talked a bit about the sessions at the recent RWA conference that dealt with marketing and author promotion.  Specifically I expounded, in my curmudgeonly way, about mailing lists and newsletters.

Spoiler alert:  I’m not a fan.

It turns out, however, that I’m hardly representative of the typical romance reader.  Based on a totally unscientific poll of readers, along with some actual numerical information from the aforementioned conference sessions, readers actually do like getting newsletters from their favorite authors – go figure – and newsletters can be an effective component of your marketing plan.

I’ll talk about how to go about building up your mailing list (besides asking all of your friends and relatives to sign up) in a future post.  Today, I’m going to talk about some of the basics to keep in mind when deciding to develop/launch a newsletter. Continue reading

Elizabeth: Mailing lists and Newsletters

A number of the sessions I attended at the recent RWA conference dealt with marketing and author promotion.  Gone are the days when writers wrote, and “all those other folks” took care of promoting, marketing, and actually selling books.  The advent of self-publishing has also given rise to self-designing, self-promoting, self-marketing, and a lot of other “self-” things that cut into the time when, as a writer, you’d probably really just rather be writing.

Maybe that’s just me.

One of the things that many of the conference sessions I attended had in common was a focus on newsletters and developing a mailing-list as a way to reach potential readers and get them to actually buy your books.  Erica Ridley talked about the mechanics of choosing an email provider, evaluating features, and providing incentives for readers to sign-up on a mailing list; Mark Dawson talked about  leveraging mailing lists in the book launch process;  and a group of authors talked about the benefits of cross-promotions for expanding visibility and growing mailing lists.

While the presenters all made valid points, I had to wonder how effective mailing lists and email newsletters really are, especially considering the amount of time their care-and-feeding seems to require. Continue reading