Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Hot Off the Press!

Business: Talk about newsletters.  Do you or do not have one? If you do, how often do you send it out? On what venue? How did you get your newsletter list? If not, why not and how do you contact your readers instead? Are there any authors whose newsletters you think are particularly good?

From Frank

Let's break this one down, point by point...

Do you or do not have one? Yes, I do, for a little over a year now. I wish I'd started one back in 2006, when my first book came out. Not only would the list be bigger, but more importantly, I think it would be a super engaged list. And... I would have long ago figured out what works best.

If you do, how often do you send it out? I have an automated email progression that starts as soon as one signs up for the list. After a greeting email and a check back to make sure you got your free books, the emails that follow arrive every 30-45 days. These automated emails contain free stuff (snippets, stories, full books) and information about me, my book series, my co-authors, and so forth. I also do a run of Three Truths and a Lie with the subscriber.

The automated emails run for about a year and a half.

About three or four times a year, I also send out an update-style email. These usually coincide with a new release(s).

On what venue? I use MailChimp.

How did you get your newsletter list? Well, firstly because other authors encouraged me to do it (Deb Coonts was the one who made the case that put me over the edge). I've added to the list in a variety of methods:

  • I made my first book free. This book and a novella are both free when someone signs up for the newsletter. I put this deal on display on my website and in my books.
  • BookFunnel runs promotions designed to build newsletters. Usually this consists of being one of a number of free titles that require you to sign up for the newsletter to claim. All of the authors on the list share the promotion on their own lists. I've found this to be a source for quantity of subscribers but not necessarily always quality (meaning more engaged subscribers). Most of subsequent unsubscribes come from this group.
  • Facebook Ads worked really well for minimal investment. Again, the ad features the free book for signing up for the newsletter.

If not, why not and how do you contact your readers instead? I left this question in to highlight that what I'm trying to do with my newsletter is make it more of a conversation with readers (those who want that). To this end, I always make a point to answer any replies I get. When my Three Truths and a Lie email goes out, it contains an offer to play back and see if I can guess your lie (I usually do).

I also try to engage on social media, but it seems like I do more of that with other authors on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram... but that's a good thing, too.

Are there any authors whose newsletters you think are particularly good? The aforementioned Deb Coonts has a great one. Colin Conway, who was sitting next to me at the bar at LCC Vancouver when Deb educated us, also does a great job. Sam Wiebe gets props for his approach - for a long while it contained not only news about him, but an interview with another author (much like Dietrich does with his blog). And I don't know for sure if he writes it himself or not, but Lawrence Block's "presented as a conversation" format makes for a quick and easy read.

I could do a whole other post on newsletters - do they work, what works, what's great and what's frustrating - but I'll save that until it's my turn to form the questions for this blog again.  :-)

Meanwhile... how about some blatant self-promotion?

Tomorrow! My sixth River City novel, Place of Wrath of Tears, is out tomorrow. While still available for pre-order, it is priced at $2.99 but that will go up to $4.99 in about twenty-four hours. Really, a discount is just about the only meaningful reason to pre-order anything digital these days. But if you want to pay regular price, I'm cool with that, too.

I just want you to read it.

What's this one about? Well, it takes place in 2001 and...

It is the nightmare of every community – a school shooting.

When a disturbed teenager masterminds this terrible event, everyone in River City is plunged into the darkness that surrounds it. The students and teachers try to survive, and the men and women of RCPD try to save them. But when things go horribly wrong, everyone seems to be looking elsewhere for someone to blame.

Officer Katie MacLeod is among many who discover that the nightmare doesn’t end when the shooting stops.


Jennifer J. Chow said...

So interesting. I use Mailchimp and have a quarterly newsletter--I tried doing it monthly, but it was too hard trying to juggle that and writing.

Frank Zafiro said...

Thanks, Jennifer.

I find that the automated system that takes every new subscriber on a conversation journey, supplemented by short real-time updates such as new releases, works for me. The automated part only needs to be written once, and the updates are probably quarterly but brief, so once it is all up and running, not a ton to juggle.