Becky Clark / Post

Newsletters or Snooze-letters?

I have a love-hate relationship with author newsletters, my own So Seldom It’s Shameful News in particular.

We authors are told that we must have an email newsletter as a way to interact with our readers. Of course we do that on our blogs and on Facebook pretty regularly, but those platforms can go away at any time, we’re just guests there. The only thing we own is our mailing list.

But I blog on my own website, over at Mysteristas, and here at Chicks on the Case. And I’m all over Facebook on my private page and on my author page. So it seems like a newsletter is duplication of effort for me, and redundant to read for you.

While I’m thrilled that so many people want to hear from me on a regular basis, I am completely baffled as to what they want to hear.

Stuff about me? How I have that one poky chin hair that disappears when I look for it? That I can’t make pancakes to save my life? That I have several intricate and well-thought-out Top Ten lists of Broadway musicals?

Stuff about my writing? The fact I can’t ever —not once— spell “dilemma” correctly the first time? A deep-dive into my outlining process? How much of what I write is fiction and how much is pulled from real life?

Stuff about my books? When they’re on sale? Cover reveals? Scheduled signings and shenanigans?

Adorable photos of my dog, Nala? Okay, that’s just silly. Everyone with blood pumping above their shoulders wants to see pics of Nala.

nalaformarshmallowmayhem

 

I always try to do something to thank my subscribers for inviting me into their lives. I offer signed books, my own and others. I try to be fun and entertaining in whatever I send. But I’m looking for the ONE FABULOUS THING I can publish in my newsletter every month that subscribers can’t find anywhere else that will make them swoon with joy whenever they see it land in their inbox.

A blog post about newsletters would be pathetic if I didn’t try to entice you to sign up for mine. So, if you do, you’ll get this ONE FABULOUS THING … “Charlee and Viv’s Book Tour: a Foul Play on Words Bonus Story.”

Viv is one of the new characters in Foul Play on Words, and I reference their book tour back in the day. It’s backstory you don’t technically need to enjoy the novel, but it adds to your understanding of Viv and the mystery swirling around her. Like a bonus feature at the end of a movie.

I might also start giving away these adorable purses I make. But only to subscribers and you have to read the newsletter to see if I’ve drawn your name. (Sneaky, eh?)

bookpurse

So let’s get the definitive word — right here, right now — on author newsletters.

  1. Do you subscribe to author newsletters? Why or why not?
  2. How often do you want to get them?
  3. What do you want to hear about?
  4. Do you actually read the newsletters you subscribe to? Why or why not?
  5. What’s the ONE FABULOUS THING in a newsletter that would make you race to open it each and every time?

Thanks for reading, thanks for commenting, thanks for subscribing, but most of all … thanks for just being here!

Writers would simply be weirdos typing madly for no reason if it wasn’t for readers.

54 thoughts on “Newsletters or Snooze-letters?

  1. I enjoy author newsletters. I get several and I do read them (I’ve slowly weeded out the ones I don’t read). I think once a month is enough. I like to read things about the author’s personal like, teasers about works in progress, information about family and/or pets, etc. I love the idea of a contest only for subscribers. A couple of other authors I follow do this…I always open their newsletters first.

    Liked by 6 people

  2. I subscribe to several newsletters and I read most of them. Getting them once a month is good and it should be a recap of what has happened since the last newsletter. Add something personal, mention of upcoming book, mention of book tours (online or at bookstores). A catchy subject line will get me to open up a newsletter – that’s what this one did.

    Liked by 6 people

    • Catchy subject lines are tough sometimes, but I agree, well worth the effort. My problem is when there’s no real news. Between books, no appearances, no book news, just me with my nose to the proverbial grindstone every day. It’s like when my kids got older. There aren’t many pictures of them because all they did was lounge around reading. Not much fun seeing that!

      Liked by 3 people

      • That’s hilarious, Lisa! And YES … all the yes! Only subscribers will have to Lysol their eyeballs after watching me tap dance. (And guess what I’m headed to do after I check in here ……)

        Liked by 1 person

      • What’s funny is: My winter newsletter last year, I started out with a subject line about the newsless newsletter, because I had nothing! Then I started writing down some end-of-year reflections and realized I had a ton of things to share….. I do also think (without ANY evidence at all) that readers like to hear about behind-the-scenes. I know I love those coffee table books that just show writers’ desks and workspaces—fascinating to me!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Oooh! I struggle with this too! I set my calendar to do a quarterly newsletter, and I’ve stuck to it for a couple of years, hoping that I give readers something of interest. Like you, I’m afraid it sometimes repeats things I’ve already posted on Facebook or Twitter or whatever, but I do think there’s something different about reading in one place several bits of news, seeing it all together. Additionally, I have what’s basically a “what I’m reading” section too, so that might be fun. (….though Goodreads maybe lets people know what I’m reading too? I’m not very good at staying on top of that….)

    I’ve done giveaways as well, both of my work and of others—though I’ll admit that it’s been the same people sometimes who’ve entered. (Maybe I just have small readership.)

    I know none of this helps in terms of perspectives—but just saying I feel your pain! 🙂

    Liked by 6 people

  4. Becky, I love this! AND Nala. And I just signed up for your newsletter. I didn’t realize you had one.

    I do a monthly Cajun Country Mysteries newsletter where I run contests only for subscribers, include news, a recipe, a “Your Louisiana Library” section. I’ve now learned that it should be the Ellen Byron brand more than Cajun Country, so I’m trying to move it in that direction. I use to dread it, but now I love doing it because I find it creative. Hey, I’m sending one out tomorrow with a Mardi Gras-themed contest, so no time like the present to share a sign-up link!! https://www.ellenbyron.com/

    Liked by 5 people

    • Aw, thanks, Ellen! Glad to have you in BeckyLand! You walk a fine line with the Cajun vs Ellen thing. But I suspect that anyone who signs up because they like your Cajun mysteries will like the Ellen brand since they’re so tightly linked. But you’re right … authors need to brand themselves, rather than their books, unless they’re literally always going to write in the exact genre/subgenre.

      I don’t exactly dread putting together my newsletter, but it ALWAYS takes longer to write than I expect. Shouldn’t I be spending that time on a manuscript?? Gah.

      Liked by 4 people

  5. Ha, So Seldom It’s Shameless perfectly describes my newsletter frequency, Becky! Although I’ve set a goal of once a quarter this year. Just subscribed and downloaded Charlee and Viv story — thanks! I’ll be scouring your newsletters for ideas. I’ve included stuff like character profiles, recipes and asking for input on book titles in previous newsletters. And, like you, I also have a short story download (Catnapped!) available exclusively to subscribers! (www.vickiefee.com)

    Liked by 5 people

    • Funny you should mention frequency, Vickie. A couple of years ago I got off-track with the frequency of my newsletters. When I finally sent one, I got a whole bunch of people who reported me as spam, forgetting after all that time that they asked to sign up! I got the Official Finger Wag from my email service. I’m really trying to do monthly now. I squeaked this last one in with about 6 hours to spare! I like your idea of asking for input from subscribers. I’d really like there to be more give-and-take with my subscribers … not just me sending and them reading. That just seems like the very LEAST amount of engagement. But I may have gotten spoiled by Facebook, where it’s so easy.

      Liked by 4 people

  6. Oh, I feel your pain, Becky! I’m never quite sure what to include or how often to disseminate my e-missives. I worry that I’ll be like some digital Fuller Brush (wo)man who shows up at the most inconvenient times.

    BUT you have so many great ideas in here (Nala! Giveaways! Original fiction!) that you’ve inspired me–and enticed me to sign up for your newsletters. Looking forward to my first issue–and crossing my fingers that I’ll win one of those amazing book purses. (ohpleaseohpleaseohplease)

    Liked by 5 people

  7. Monthly is really about all you need unless there is a special sale or something. Any news you think your readers would like to know, like appearances, new books, etc.

    Subscribe to a few and see what you think works and doesn’t work. If you like it, odds are your readers will, too.

    Liked by 6 people

  8. Well, you’re way ahead of me, Becky! I’m hoping to start up my newsletter again on a regular basis in the near future, when I can announce my (fingers-crossed) new series. I’m so afraid that some people on my list signed up due to contests–and they’ll delete me and I’ll get that finger-wag (or worse? Is there worse?) from an email server. But hopefully some people will want to hear all my super-exciting news in the future (I have a cute and very naughty Golden Retriever): https://www.lisaqmathews.com/

    Liked by 4 people

  9. Becky this is a terrific post. And I think every idea you and everyone else here have said = fabulous content.

    I’m in awe of you newsletter masters! Since the first in the series came out, I’ve done exactly three newsletters–one for each book! Not because I wouldn’t love to do them more often but because I’m afraid of bothering people in this day and age where everyone has too much email. (I always start out jauntily enough, putting together things I hope will be beneficial to readers inside, but by the time I’m done, I’ve worried so much about being annoying that it’s all I can do not to put as my subject line: I’m So Sorry, Everyone.)

    Okay and since we’re doing newsletters links, here’s the one to my Just The Good Stuff newsletter: https://bit.ly/2MPiEMh (I’m sorry).

    Liked by 3 people

    • If you had that subject line, I would absolutely open! I feel that way about calling people on the phone. I just won’t do it because I know that every call I get, even if it turns out to be from someone I absolutely want to hear from, gives me that momentary (or longer) annoyance. Which is why my phone is always off.

      I feel less strongly about email, though, because, like a text, it just sits there and waits quietly for me. A while back, I was checking my stats and thought I’d try a purge of subscribers because you can see who opens what and when, as well as the links they click on. But when I said something about purging on facebook, I got a ton of pushback. So I went back in and looked again, and the stats kinda lie. If someone reads on a different device, for instance, it wasn’t showing up that they even opened it. So I didn’t do my purge. That’s the opposite of your point that you don’t want to bother anyone.

      I don’t get a buttload of emails and I check my spam folder (which I have found is yet another way I’m completely abnormal) so I never miss anything. Late, sure, but that’s different.

      Speaking of a buttload of emails, hubs and I were redoing our estate plan and our attorney said she gets 1300 emails EVERY DAY! I fell directly on to my fainting couch when I heard that.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I read monthly newsletters, mostly because monthly is a more realistic way to get my deeper attention. On any given day there is enough in the inbox that I simply delete posts regardless of content or how much I enjoy the blogger. And, yes, Nala pictures would be fabulous. There are several bloggers, on heavy inbox days, that I sometimes scroll through to get to the pet pic, lol!

    Liked by 2 people

  11. I enjoy getting newsletters from authors. For me once a week is great. Reading about what the author has been going through, how books are coming along, and contests and give aways are great. Recipes and pictures are fun too.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Karen … weekly newsletters would just about kill me, but if you like, you can come over and pull up a chair to watch my boring little writerly life. I’ll even let you play with Nala and use everyone’s recipes to cook for us! Honestly, that sounds like quite a good time. What do you say, huh? Please?

      Like

  12. Becky and all the lovely chicks!
    Hope someone gets a chance to read this. I was so busy at work today I just got online for the first time.
    Newsletters? Once a month is just fine! Any more than that, I feel overwhelmed, so I can imagine how the writers feel about doing it more often.
    Ideas I’d like to see?
    I saw something above about letting us into the life of your characters. What about showing us what isn’t in the book about the characters? LIke I know for sure several of the characters shoplifted as kids. Did they get caught? A personal resume of each? Maybe one a newsletter of the main characters?
    Show us what the town looks like. Do a map for us. Janet Evanovich did an Uber one on her website.
    Tell us what happens in the town you’ve created. Or the real town in your stories. Like is there any festivals? What do they do at them?
    Give us tidbits on your writing. Like do you do vision boards (I so want one of those, but can’t seem to grasp it)? Do you do your best writing at 3AM? What is your nemesis when it comes to writing? Do you ever cry about being stuck, or being thrilled or whatever feelings you have about your writing.
    Maybe once a year ask one of your fans to create an interview for you to fill out. So you know what us fans what to know about you.
    You know me, I could go on and on. Newsletters are great, but think about what’s you would tell your family at a reunion. Maybe that’s the way you should think about it?

    Can’t wait to see as many of you as possible at Malice!

    Liked by 2 people

  13. I’m really late to this, but I feel your pain, Becky. There are times (like now) when I feel I have zippo to talk about and why clutter inboxes? Maybe pictures of the new dog (when he/she arrives) will help.

    And that reminds me, I need to come up with something for a February newsletter.

    Like

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