Saturday, July 15, 2017

Ins and Outs of My Newsletters

From DepositPhoto
The topic this week is author newsletters.

I have one, with about 3000 people on the e mail list and I have a separate list of about 1000 people who indicated interest in audiobooks only. The mail newsletter list is primarily ‘organic’, in that readers have signed up for it from my blog over the last five years, but I did add a few hundred people from various cross promo, list building events I tried last year.  I decided fairly quickly those events weren’t for me. There are many people in the world who sign up for these events for the prizes offered and then really didn’t want to continue to hear from the authors, so they unsubscribe and/or mark newsletters as spam. The audiobook list came entirely from a 2016 audiobook list builder giveaway and the first time I sent out audiobook news, there were about 40 unsubscribes, which wasn’t too bad. So I regard it as a solid list and feel the audiobook listeners genuinely do want to receive that content.

I only send out a newsletter when I have a new release OR some significant piece of news about something writing-related-to-Veronica Scott. On rare occasions I’ll do an NL in connection with a big, multi author promo event if I feel it would be of interest to, and potentially benefit my readers. I don’t ordinarily do NL swaps with other authors (on rare occasions I will, if it’s for an author I personally love), I never accept paid placement in my NL, I run no ads, I have no excerpts, freebies, contests or giveaways. I don’t share recipes, family news, personal stuff.

This does limit me from being involved in certain author cross promo events where part of the deal is the mandatory requirement to send out a newsletter. I will very rarely do that – it’s not my ‘deal’ with my readers who signed up, so I can't participate.

I’m just not a newsletter person. To me a NL is a ‘purely the facts’ kind of communication vehicle and the main reason I’d use it is for new release updates. The golden rule of promo to me is not to do the types that don’t come naturally.

From DepositPhoto
To balance that, I’m very active daily on twitter and on Facebook (on my Veronica Scott page) and in various scifi and fantasy romance FB groups, as well as author groups. I blog in three places regularly and I write posts for USA Today/HEA, Heroes & Heartbreakers, Romance University and Amazing Stories, plus occasional guest posts. I figure that’s enough Veronica Scott for most people!
So why do I even maintain a NL list? Yes, Amazon and BookBub and even Goodreads will send out new release alerts to people who have followed me on their sites. Three problems – the alerts don’t go out reliably or timely. In each place I have smaller numbers of followers than on my own list. Those lists ‘belong’ to the site, not me. I don’t even have access to who the people are. So I need my own list to ensure that in these constantly changing times, I can reach my readers who’ve expressed an interest in keeping up with my new releases. Or other book-related news, if something cool happens.

I’ve also gotten some very lovely reader mail back after a NL goes out.

In today’s world of publishing, everyone is looking for the next new thing. Somewhere in 2016, from my standpoint, the whole newsletter concept exploded, and authors were doing these huge list building events. I began to see certain unintended, unexpected side effects occurring, as discussed in various author groups I belong to. One effect, I mentioned above, was the set of ‘professional giveaway entering people’ who’d sign up for the prizes and then promptly unsubscribe. Another was the author getting in trouble for too many people marking their NL e mail as spam, versus simply unsubscribing. Third, readers were burning out – if there were 100 authors in an event, the poor reader might get inundated with 100 newsletters right after the event ended!  Fourth, readers are busy people and they might forget they’d even signed up for a NL as part of a giveaway weeks ago (or it wasn’t made clear to them their e mail was being harvested, which is a no-no, you have to disclose that) so when NL’s they had no memory of asking for hit their inbox, the person might get pretty upset.

And then there’s this whole idea of the ‘drip campaign’ which as I understand it, is where the author sends the poor reader a series of a mails, like gates to go through…add to that author frustration I’ve seen over “people don’t even read the NL, I’m going to delete half my list”…well, maybe the readers  ARE reading the NL, but in their e mail previewer, which might not count as an open in your particular NL tool…some people send NL’s weekly (!!!), bi-weekly….

Hello, I write books. I need to spend my time writing the books, and relevant posts for the big platforms where many readers hang out, not newsletters. I do have a PA help me with the technical part of sending the NL out, but I write the content. I don’t have the time in my life, or the patience, to manage drip campaigns and click thru rates and developing unique content just for the NL….I prioritize what works for me as a person and indie author.

I guess it sounds by now as if I’m pretty down on newsletters. I know some authors are very successful with NL’s and have forged terrific relationships with their readers because that format works so well and is a natural fit for their personality and communications style. SE Smith is an excellent example. I also love Nalini Singh’s and am happy to see a new one in my e mail whenever they show up.

After ALL that, if you’d like to sign up for my newsletter and be assured you’ll only see new releases info, with a smattering of other content, here’s the LINK. The sign up box is on my blog, at the top of the Home page.

And if you are into audiobooks, a group of authors from various genres has gotten together on Facebook and Twitter to do a giveaway July 15th through 30th. Just look for the hashtag #summeraudio

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