As authors, we’re supposed to be looking for ways to reach our readers. Social media, websites, blogs, newsletters . . . newsletters.
Oh, how I dread putting out my newsletter. Despite the fact that I’m always asking people to join, I don’t really like doing it (and frankly, I’m beginning to feel the same way about blogging).
But here’s the deal: Facebook—my playground—is changing again. Twitter has never really been effective for me, except when I buy askDavid tweets (and sometimes not even then). I haven’t been able to connect well with folks on Instagram. LinkedIn is best for my editing business, but not so hot for my books. Pinterest, which I love, doesn’t really allow for much interaction, just image sharing.
So the only things that actually work—that allow me to actually connect with others and that won’t change unless I change them—are my blog, my website, and my newsletter. Do I know how to use these tools effectively?
I’m just now learning about SEOs and such, and I really should devote more time to studying them and their utilization. It’s not like there’s a shortage of information out there.
And as for newsletters, all I really know is that I ought to have one. So, I do. Now what?
Joanna Penn’s Newsletter Interview Saves the Day
The other day, Joanna Penn, of the acclaimed blog/vlog The Creative Penn, interviewed an author named Tammi Labrecque (interview available on YouTube). I’ve never heard of Tammi, but I love her ideas about newsletters. In the interview alone, I learned about “reader magnets,” what kind of “calls to action” to request, what kinds of things to write about, what kind of offers to present, how often to send out a newsletter, how to manage newsletter subscribers, and whether having a lot of subscribers really is a good thing.
That’s just in a 30-minute interview! Imagine what it would be like to get the book (Newsletter Ninja)!
A couple of things she mentioned that I hadn’t thought about are list size management and whether to mail the same type of things to everyone on the list. Tammi is a multi-genre author and has pen names for each, so she also has different lists/newsletters for each.
I don’t have pen names, but the idea still holds: Contemporary Romance, Historical Romance, and Women’s Fiction readers are pretty loyal to their preferred genres. There is some cross-over, of course, but otherwise, they stick close to their own. So my book review should appeal to the segment who prefer that book’s genre—and my reviews of books totally out of sync with my readers’ preferences should be restricted to Amazon. I have a penchant for YA these days, something that doesn’t appeal to my readers (just ask the ones who dropped their subscription after I wrote about it!).
You’d think this would be common sense, but apparently I’m dense. I figure readers, like me, like to read. I love just about anything I can get my hands on. But my reviews should be of interest to the readers, and should be aimed at the right segment.
The good thing about using MailChimp for your newsletters (I don’t know about others), is that MailChimp provides tons of stats. I can tell who opens my newsletter and how many times, who clicks links and which ones they click. All sorts of great things to help me determine whether people are interested in what I’m providing.
For instance, I send out the ACFW New Release list every month. Some folks really seem to like it, others have unsubscribed because of it. What to do?
Well, I can go through and see who opens that particular newsletter and create segment for only those people. That way, I’m not sending the new release list to those who aren’t interested. Why didn’t I think of that before?
Tammi mentions David Gaughran’s Strangers to Superfans frequently in the interview, so I’m likely to get his book too. I already have a couple of his books and subscribe to his newsletter. I like the way he presents the business of promoting as an author.
But I really liked Tammi’s presentation on Joanna’s vlog. You take her information and combine it with Ryan Zee (BookSweeps) newsletter-subscriber-building campaign and you’re off to a great start!
Never too Late to Alter Your Newsletter
If it was, I’d be dead in the water. But we’re all muddling through and looking for what works. We might lose readers along the way (I have as I’ve muddled), but the good news is that we can pick up more.
This time, I’m going to put more thought into it and use the managing techniques Tammi mentioned in her interview. Then, I’m going to change what I do currently and try again.
Stay tuned. I’ll let you know what happens.