Monday, March 30, 2015

Mailing List Plugin Review: MailPoet

I might add more to this later and give updates in my comments, but I've been playing around with the MailPoet plugin for about a week now and I have good and not-so-good things to say about it. In all fairness, I still have some comments/e-mails to the MailPoet support team and I'm waiting to hear back from them on some of my concerns, but here's my initial review of the plugin.

How To Get the Plugin

For those of you who have a WordPress website, you can find the plugin either by going to their plugin page on WordPress OR by going into the Plugins section on the admin side of your site and looking for "MailPoet". Personally, I think it's easier to install it from there.

My Initial Observations

Friday, March 27, 2015

Mailing Lists 5 - Newsletters

Mailing Lists: Recap

This is the fifth  post in a series of articles about Creating and Maintaining a Mailing List. Here are links to the entire series:
Be sure to read those before you read the post below.

Newsletter Frequency

One concern I've heard often is, "How often do I send a newsletter out?" If you implement a plan like I've outlined in this series - autoresponders that give your readers regular freebies of your short stories and whatever else your talents will allow - then you are ALWAYS in front of your readers, reminding them about you and your books. Which're now already in front of your readers, so don't stress! That's the beauty of the autoresponders and the plan I use.

So relax! The pressure is off! Write as little or as often as you like. I would recommend at least one personalized newsletter per quarter, so that would be once every three months.

Newsletter Content

Now to address the main concern I've heard most authors express: "I wouldn't know what to write!" Allow me to make a few suggestions based on when I send out in my newsletters:

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Mailing Lists 4 - Growing Your List

Mailing Lists: Recap

This is the forth post in a series of articles about Creating and Maintaining a Mailing List. Here are links to the entire series:
Be sure to read those before you read the post below.

STEP 3: How to Grow Your List

Social Media and ads are a great way to promote your mailing list and I want to encourage you to direct your campaigns and readers toward signing up. THAT should be your priority! If you implemented a plan like I've described in the previous posts, you'll have plenty of freebies for your readers, which creates an incentive for them to want to join. 

And regardless of how you promote your mailing list or even your books, having a STRONG CALL TO ACTION is important! Any post or ad you create should tell readers what to do. Don't just say, "If you join my VIP Club, you'll get vampire freebies!" TELL them to join. "Join my VIP Club to get vampire freebies. CLICK HERE!" Don't just say, "I'm giving away a $10 gift card at my Facebook party!" TELL them to go there. "CLICK HERE for a chance to win a $10 gift card at my FB party!"

Here are some ideas to get the word out and help you grow your list:

Mailing Lists 3 - Creating a Plan

Mailing Lists: Recap

This is the third post in a series of articles about Creating and Maintaining a Mailing List. Here are links to the entire series:
Be sure to read those before you read the post below.

Part 3: Creating a Plan

Before you get all excited and announce your VIP or Reader Club, be sure you have everything set up! I made the mistake of announcing my VIP Club and THEN said, "HOLY HELLO! I have to make the freebies and create the autoresponders for next week!" Talk about pressure!!! Learn from my mistake and draft your program FIRST, set it up, THEN announce it!

As I said in the previous post, how you set your program up will depend on how many books and freebies you have. But let's start with the basics...

Mailing Lists 2 - Creating Your Mailing List Program

Mailing Lists: Recap

In the first post I published on Mailing Lists, I talked about why you should have a mailing list and how to find a service to manage your mailing list.

In this post, we'll talk about how to create a reader club (aka mailing list) that will give back to your readers and encourage them to not only stay, but sell your books! Here are links to the entire series:

Part 1: The Name

Personally, I've found more success in gathering people for my mailing list by NOT calling it a mailing list. That term tends to have a "spammy" air about it and many people shy away from joining a mailing list for fear of their inbox being filled with a bunch of advertising and useless information. A "newsletter" is coming close to that, but it is a little more acceptable.

For my mailing list, I use "VIP Club" ( the way, that's a PrettyLink). My readers feel special when they're one of my VIPs and I do my best to treat them special by offering exclusive content, goodies and information. More on that later. So I would recommend coming up with something unique to YOU and/or your books.

Mailing Lists - Why Have One & Finding a Service

Mailing lists and newsletters! A daunting topic, and one that has popped up a lot lately, so I thought I'd give my two pence about what I've learned and how I manage my own mailing list. In the comments below, I'd love to hear what's worked for you!

So far, this is a five-part article (I might be adding more later). Here are links to the entire series:

First, let's go over the basics.

Why Have a Mailing List?

As free venues like Facebook, Twitter and other platforms force us to use ads in order to get our posts and information out to our readers, it becomes more difficult to reach our audience without paying a lot of money. A mailing list, then, becomes essential to communicating to your audience without having to spend gobs of cash on advertising. Personally, I think advertising should be used to reach NEW readers, not the ones who have already shown interest in your work!

EXAMPLE: Even though I have almost 1500 "likes" on my author page on Facebook, less than 6% actually see my posts. WTF, right? Isn't that why we gathered likes and followers?

So a mailing list is now more crucial to reaching that audience you've worked so hard to build. The benefits of having a mailing list outweigh the work that goes into them, if you ask me. THIS is the audience who will drive your sales with a new release or traffic to your online events. Anytime you have a new release, these readers need to know about it. If you have a FB party, giveaways, if you'll be attending a convention or other reader events, your fans will want to know! Your mailing list is the delivery method to get this word out!

Won't I be Bothering My Readers?

I thought the same thing! But here's the mentality to have when creating a mailing list and any communications that go out: Don't just make it about you...give something back to them! This is relationship, and those usually go both ways.

In this article series, I'll be detailing what I do for my mailing list and provide tips and ideas on how to give away freebies with little-to-no cost on your part! AND it will be, for the most part, centered around your books so you can generate GENUINE interest in your work.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Bay Area Book Festival Writers BEWARE!!!

If you're an author and you are NOT following David Gaughran's Blog, I HIGHLY recommend you go over there now and subscribe (free, of course) so you can get updates on when he posts. Do it now...I'll wait.

Welcome back!

WHY should you follow David Gaughran? Here are several reasons why...
  1. David is a very successful self-published author, so you can't go wrong by listening to his advice. He's walking the walk and talking the talk. And the proof is in the pudding: He is a NY Times bestselling author ON HIS OWN....not through a group, boxed-set project. Yes...with his self-published books.
  2. He's written GREAT books about self-publishing, sharing all of his methods that led to him being such a success. Let's Get Digital and Let's Get Visible. Go out and get them NOW! You won't regret it.
  3. He is ON TOP OF the news about what's happening in the self-publishing industry. If you don't know where to look about such news or have problems finding it yourself, David's blog is a great place to start!
  4. He is diligent about informing authors about Author Solutions and their SCAMS. This is a Penguin-Random House company that supposedly specializes in self-publishing services. Worse than a vanity press, which charges a LOT of money for self-publishing services, Author Solutions totally rapes authors for services that are not only overpriced but are nothing but fluff and useless. They even lure authors into thinking that if they self-publish their book through Author Solutions, there's a chance their books could land a contract with the Big 5 publisher. You have the same chance of landing a contract with them if you submitted your manuscript to them for free. *shakes head*

David's latest post on the Bay Area Book Festival highlights that not only is Author Solutions sponsoring the event, the organizers behind the festival don't care that AS is a scam operation and that they have a class action lawsuit against them for deceptive practices.

Check out David's post HERE.

And for your convenience, here are the books I mentioned above:


Good luck with self-publishing and if you follow David's advice, you won't regret it!!

That's my two pence...


Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Lessons Learned from Boxed Sets

I’m no expert on the subject, but I did have some “lessons learned” from two boxed sets to which I recently contributed. I had certain expectations going in…

  • I’m going to make a lot of money!
  • I’ll get lots of new readers!
  • This will be easy to do!
  • I’ll get on a list! 
Some of those expectations were satisfied...and some were not. And if you’re not familiar with a boxed set or what’s involved--like I wasn’t--the following information are things I wish I’d known going into such a project.

How Does a Boxed Set Work?

I participated in two boxed sets in 2014. Excessica (Selena Kit’s company) did the publishing of the set for Highland Shifters (HS) and 7th House (Victoria Danann’s publishing company) did the Passionate Bites (PB) boxed set. These two authors also contributed their own stories. So in this situation, we had participating authors' own companies handle the publications.

But there are also many people who have started their own companies to specialize in producing boxed sets - coordinating the compilation of the books and handling the formatting, the cover design, the publishing and finally, all the accounting to pay out the royalties. Sometimes, even the advertising.

Whoever publishes the set usually takes 10% off the top after the money starts coming in and it's usually paid out per quarter...which means you might not see your money for several months. What company publishes the set is only part of it.

The authors who participate in the boxed set are the biggest element and will make or break a project.