Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Let's talk about Newsletters

One of the secrets to building readership, I’ve been told time and time again in marketing workshops and webinars, is to build a mailing list and then to send out a newsletter weekly, or at least monthly.

I don’t know about this. I’d always thought the secret was to write great fiction and then put it out where people can read it. Our sales numbers suggest that I am dead wrong on this point, though, we let’s talk this week about author’s and publisher’s newsletters. 

Some questions:

• If you’re an author, do you publish a newsletter? If so, how often, and can you send me a copy?

• If you’re a reader, do you subscribe to any author’s or publisher’s newsletters? Who has a really good one that you’d recommend subscribing to?

• A weekly newsletter seems like overkill to me. What do you think? Too frequent?

• Perhaps I’m reading too much into this, having been the newsletter editor for a couple of different non-profit organizations with thousands of members where the monthly newsletter was always a big deal. (And where the member behavior suggested that 90% of them threw it straight in the trash without reading it.) Assuming we could produce such a thing, does anyone have the time to read complex newsletters anymore?

• If you subscribe to newsletters, in what format do you prefer to receive them? Me, I would prefer to keep things as simple and clean as possible, and I absolutely will not click on an email link that sends me off to retrieve a file from “the cloud.” I’m even leery of opening unsolicited PDF files these days. What’s been your experience?

Bruce Bethke



Mark Keigley said...

Monthly. One paragraph. What's new in your escapist fiction. What's new with your cats.

~brb said...

My kid is spectacularly allergic to cat dander. We don't have any cats. Does this mean I've already lost the interest of half of SF/F fandom?

Arisia said...

I'm waiting until I get close to having a book to sell, because I figure things will have changed by then. Again. The real problem is getting people to know you exist. Social media doesn't work well for that any more, IMO because most of the accounts left are robots or those only interested in spewing and reading hate speech. Newsletters work to some extent, but you have to get huge numbers, because only a small percent of your list will respond by actually buying your books.

I've recently seen new authors increase their email list by using quizzes (Which character are you?) or giving away short stories or even novels.

~brb said...

Arisia, I have the inverse problem. An enormous number of people know I exist. They just don't want to talk about what I'm doing now, they want me to talk and talk and talk about something I did 40 years ago, and then to lay my hands upon them and bless what they are doing now.

It's almost enough to make me want to try being S. Travis Brown again.

Elise Stephens said...

Hi Bruce! I publish a newsletter, but I am very infrequent with it! However, I get really positive feedback from those who read it, as I try to keep it personal and to include condensed highlights of what is found in my blog. I'd be happy to send you a copy of my most recent one! Ideally, I would send mine out 2-4 times a year, but it often becomes closer to once a year, at this point.

Mr. Naron said...

I regularly read Jonah Goldberg’s G File for years until Trump broke him. I’m not sure that’s the kind of newsletter you mean, but it was effective for a while. It seems like podcasts have taken over that function for many individuals. It also seems like there’s glut of podcasts. There’s a glut of terrible podcasts. Good ones are vanishingly rare. You would be good at it.

Mark Keigley said...

Ah, welp... cat dander is a problem. There's tons of entertaining cat stuff on Facebook, though.

But seriously, if I can scan ONE paragraph quickly; that catches my interest, I'm more likely to keep reading.

I am a computer gamer (Guild Wars 2)

We chat while we game... killing other pixels (representing other humans somewhere in the world who are trying just as hard to kill your pixels). Most of the time it's very brief...who has covid. Who is traveling the holidays. Who is out of a job. Who just got a nice job.

What we're eating for supper. A very Facebooky kind of thing, but in Discord. (chat client)

I think adding a element of REAL slice-of-life (that fits your comfort level) adds interest, (in moderation).

Lynn said...

Weekly newsletter subscriptions tend to last for a few weeks before I unsubscribe-- with the exception of two newsletter that regularly include links to free work in my favorite niche genres. Monthly emails are easier to manage. My preference is for updates on the type of work I've already read of the author. Personal updates and talk about pets only catch my interest when my relationship with the author is personal; then, though, it's really a friend's news shared with strangers. I also subscribe to several newsletters that are so infrequent (as once or twice a year, perhaps?) that I'm surprised when they show up, which might not be ideal for marketing. No matter the frequency, plain text or simple formatting is preferred, as I'm too often reading with slow internet. An attached PDF document I didn't explicitly consent would be unwelcome.