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:
  • Activity & Announcements - Do you have a new release? Are you on a podcast or appearing on a popular blog? Did your audiobook just get released? Are you participating in a really big Facebook party? Are you and a group of authors dropping the price of your books for a holiday sale? Are you participating in a boxed set? If you're an active author, you're probably all over the place with appearing on blogs and have a lot going on, so you don't have to send out a newsletter for every event. If you already know your events for the next 2-3 months, publish a newsletter that gives the dates and links to your online appearances. If you're going to attend a convention, be sure to send a newsletter to let your fans know when and where you'll be. If you're not very active online or at conventions, try some of these ideas...
  • Excerpts of WIPs - Readers love to know what you're working on. If you have a WIP (work in progress) and have a few paragraphs or a short scene you can share, polish that puppy up and put it in a newsletter. It's a great teaser for your next release!
  • Character Interviews - Most of the time, readers love your writing because they care about the characters. Are there facts and tidbits you haven't revealed in your books with great detail that perhaps you can share? How about a Character interview? Personally, I love to write my character interviews in the first person, present tense and describe the scene as I would write a novel. I put myself into a scene, write my character entering the room, my reaction to him or her and conduct my interview. I think it's much more interesting than a whole list of questions for the character to answer, like they're on a talk show. BUT I write paranormal romance with an historical twist, so that might be more fitting for my Hot Scottish Vampires! If you write contemporary romance, you might go with the Q&A. If you write horror, perhaps a more somber mood. Whatever fits your books and your characters.
  • Deleted Scenes & Information - There are some scenes we love to hang on to and they aren't necessarily badly written. Perhaps they don't really move the story forward as much as we'd like or they slow the story down because of the current action...but then you never had the right way to weave it into the rest of the book. What about scenes that you never wrote about but hinted - like an exchange between two characters. Why not include THAT in a newsletter? This is the behind-the-scenes stuff our readers love.

And you might try to end the newsletter with a question or encourage your readers to engage with your characters or you. Give them a link where they can go and leave comments, like your blog, your Facebook Page, your Twitter profile. If you have them tweet about the post, be sure to give them a hashtag to use or create a link to make it even easier for them.

Cross Promotion to Increase Engagement

So those are ideas on the main content of the newsletter. Now, let's do a little something that will assist with engagement. As I've mentioned in the past, readers LOVE freebies!! Doh...I can hear the groans from here. "I just created seven months worth of freebies! You're squeezing me dry, Arial!!!" Don't worry!!! I've got ya covered!!

Let me ask you this one question...and I think you'll know where I'm going when I ask it: Don't you have author friends, in the same genre you write, that have FREE or 99 cent books?? I'm sure you do! And if you don't, you can easily find books in your genre at those prices by searching Amazon.

Here is an example of a newsletter I just sent out recently: Man Candy Show

Notice the right-hand column. I put a slew of book covers and all of those link to books that are 99 cents or FREE...and yes, I used my Amazon affiliate link. How did I get those with little-to-no work on my part? I went into my author networking groups on Facebook where I hang out with my Paranormal Romance author pals and created a post: "I'm sending out my newsletter TODAY. Who has a 99 cent or FREE eBook they want me to promote? Please leave your AMAZON link here!" My FB notifications went DING! DING! DING! DING! I posted it in two groups and had to finally say, "Whoa! Okay! I'm full!!!" LOL

Sooooo, I went over to Amazon and grabbed the "large" image HTML coding and pasted those into my right-hand section. This video is a great quick tutorial on how to use Amazon affiliate links. I personally use the method toward the middle-to-the-end of the video where she shows you how to go to the product page and grab the image-only code. The beginning also goes very rapidly over where to go to open your affiliate account (she gives the address).

So there you have it! I think that's the end of this series...unless you all have questions about some of the things I covered or if you think I missed something. If so, please leave comments below!

Thank you! And that's my two pence...

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