Tuesday, June 19, 2018

To Newsletter or Not to Newsletter by Alicia Dean

I have dabbled with newsletters and I was involved in a multi-author newsletter (Leah and Diane were part of this, among a few of my other author friends). We did not find much benefit in producing the newsletter and we eventually stopped. I KEEP hearing about how critical it is for an author to have a newsletter. So…I’ve decided to try again. I’m not sure exactly what to include. I want to be interesting, brief, writing related, but not completely. I also have heard for years about ‘branding’ and being true to who you are, etc. I think my ‘thing’ will be crime. After all, I’ve got a reputation for being a bit twisted and creepy (deservedly so), and I DO love that stuff. I have been researching tips for author newsletters. One of the tips was to have a catchy name. Some of the other tips were about having the same sections each time, and to share about things you’re passionate about and to weave in writing and non-writing info.

I am planning to send my first one out this month. (I’m a little leery about the GDPR thing, or whatever it is, but I understand Mailchimp takes care of that for you, is that what you guys have found?) So, based on tips I’ve read and what I’ve learned in workshops, etc, I have come up with a plan, more or less. I’d like to share with you all and get your feedback on what I should add, remove, tweak, etc. Here is what I have in mind…

Title: Dark and Stormy (I’ll have some kind of header I’ll use for each newsletter - Something like this, but with words:)


1 - Main Story
Tips for the main story: (1) keep it short (like 300 words, max), (2) provide a fun picture, and (3) relate it to the theme of your newsletter – maybe about writing, research and/or crime shows, a trip, a writing retreat, etc.

2 - Writing and Stuff:
Any news about releases or sales or progress of WIPs. Interesting research I’ve run across.
Upcoming Events: (if I’m doing a conference or book signing)

3 - My Life:
(I’ll post about weight watchers, TV shows, or other personal trips and other things)

4 – Books:
A different one of my books each month and a recommended read for another author.  Sometimes I’ll recommend author friend books, other times, I’ll just find a book to recommend.

5 -  Short Bio  & Social Media Links
1–2 sentence bio  & my links (I'll invite them to follow my blog)

What do you think? Will this work? I’ve had people email me and ask me to put them on my mailing list, so I guess I should start ‘mailing’ something, LOL. Do you do a newsletter? What is yours about? Have you found it beneficial?


Leah St. James said...

Well...as one of your co-authors from the now defunct monthly newsletter :-), I'm not sure I have much to add. I would say the subject line needs to be something more than "July news" or some otherwise generic topic. I think about all the email I get in my personal life (not counting the author emails)--sometimes daily promotions from stores or other businesses--and I think about what catches my attention as I scroll through the list. I stop for sales, new products, or MAYBE interesting personal news. (I know, it's all about me. What can I save? What new product might I use?) So I would try to have some type of subscriber-only promo each month, like a free ebook from your back list...something like that. And I would highlight that in the subject line. Since you have so many titles out, that might be something that would work for you. Good luck!

Margo Hoornstra said...

I’m a follower rather than leader in the newsletter realm, so I have no new suggestions. Sounds like some good headers. Maybe a little less is more here though? Best of luck. I’ll be watching to learn. ;-)

Jannine Gallant said...

At RT everyone stressed newsletters. I started a mailing list but still haven't sent one out yet. Yes, the subject line is supposed to be something that will make people open it. Indicating something free or unique is what was suggested. Double opt in from Mail Chimp is supposed to meet requirements. I kept the physical copy of the sign up sheet from RT as "proof" those people asked to be included...just in case. Unique content was a big suggestion at most workshops. An ongoing story (if you send a letter fairly frequently) or a chapter of a not yet released book or an epilogue to a released book or whatever. They said to put long content in Book Funnel with a link in your newsletter to keep it from being too unwieldy. I don't even know what Book Funnel is, but it can't be that hard to figure out, right? I should really get a newsletter written and sent, but I still have less than 50 people on my list. Hard to get motivated for such a small group.

Vonnie Davis said...

I have a newsletter, but haven't sent one out since March when Calvin started going downhill. For me, it's a time-consuming process. I use Mailerlite and because I have over 5,000 subscribers, it costs me $20. a month. I'm one for "will I get my money's worth from this expenditure?" Does my newsletter generate enough business to spend the twenty bucks? I dunno. I make my message short and mostly about my life. Another reason why I haven't sent one out, but I need to do so soon to send the "you can unsubscribe message" now required. I do mention what I'm writing now. And from time-to-time put one of my self-published novellas on a freebie website and offer it to the subscribers if they email back they want it. I send them the link. A few email me back with comments about something I've said in the newsletter and I always respond to build up a rapport. Your ideas sound fine to me...and now I have no more excuses for sending out that required newsletter. My sign-up page is on my website...*cough, cough*...if anyone wants to subscribe.

Alicia Dean said...

Good ideas, Leah. Thank you! Yeah, I don't really read newsletters, unless something truly catches my eye.

Yes, Margo, I definitely plan to keep each section brief, and I may do away with one or more of them. Thanks!!

Those are great ideas, Jannine. Thank you! I know a little about Book Funnel. It's like Instafreebie. I'll check into using that, if I can figure it out. I understand about the limited number of subscribers. There are lots of ways to grow your list! You may already know, but I'll send a note to the loop about it.

Ha, Vonnie. I'll subscribe!! I understand about wondering if the results are worth it. But, EVERYONE says you should do a newsletter. I feel, with no opportunity for interaction, like you have on FB or a blog, it feels useless and disconnected, but I'm not going to argue with 'everyone' :)

Andrea Downing said...

I had a newsletter and stopped. it didn't seem to make any difference and I think, for myself, I don't sign up for any and would not like to receive one. I seem to 'hear' about my fave authors' latest books and that's all I care about really in that respect. if someone advertises a blog post I'm interested in I go to it, but goodness knows I have enough on my plate without yet another email in my inbox I have no intention of reading. BUT yes, general advice seems to be to have one. No idea why. . . .

Rolynn Anderson said...

Ditto what my rose buds say. I put out a pretty e-mail when I have a release, and I write a blog a month on my website; two blogs a month here. That's a lot of writing. We should ask JL if her newsletter helps...she's been dutiful with a newsletter for years!

Alicia Dean said...

Yes, Andrea, I'm thinking that the newsletter is a troublesome and not worth it, but I've gone this far, so I guess I should follow through. I don't read newsletters either, so I figure why would I send them? :)

Yes, it is, Rolynn. I'm trying to blog twice a week on my own blog, then I have here and Moonlight & Mystery, etc, so...that's really a lot! Yes, I'll ask J L. Thanks!

Diane Burton said...

I didn't find the time and expense of the group newsletter worth it. Yet, I still put out my own New Release Alert. It only goes out when I have a new release or something important. I really hate being inundated by newsletters. If I get a book from Instafreebie or Book Funnel, I know I've signed up for someone's newsletter. That's okay, but...I'll get posts asking if I enjoyed the book then more. I didn't sign up for that. If the newsletters are too often, I unsubscribe. Once a month is plenty. Once a week, too much. Like everyone else, I don't see results from sending out a newsletter. Since it doesn't cost me anything more than time, I'm still okay. Yes, Mail Chimp helps you with the GDPR. If you have a double request to join, you're good. That means they sign up, then are given a chance to okay that.