#AuthorToolBoxBlogHop – Newsletter Woes

newsletter woes

Happy September. New month means new #AuthorToolBoxBlogHop post. I’m a little fried this week. Last weekend I worked a music festival, so that means twelve hour days outside in the Georgia heat. Then I spent Monday and Tuesday fighting with formatting and dealing with car stuff.

Upside to that, The Teen has wheels again after his accident (not his fault) and I managed to get my book formatted and uploaded for pre-order. So yay, accomplishments, but man I couldn’t think of a topic to write about, so I phoned a friend. Thank you Ameila Foster for giving me some to ramble about. 

Let’s get to it then. As authors having a social media presence is a necessary evil. It just is. But the where and how often varies based on who you ask. However, the one thing that seems to be pretty unanimous is the need for a newsletter. Why? Well, the reasoning is you never know when a social site will make changes that affect how well you can connect with your readers. We’ve seen it this year with all the Facebook changes alone. But, the “experts” say you own your list. You can always have direct access to those that have signed up, or so the theory goes. 

But newsletters can be scary. Aside from trying to figure out which platform to use, the biggest worries I hear in the circles I travel are 1) how difficult they may be to set up 2) what to talk about and 3) how often to send. 

Time to break down the points.

Difficulty to set up

I use Mailchimp so my experience will be based on that. If you’re not techy like I am, it can take you a little while to get the first one done. I think my first one took me two hours or so. Going off my memory from last year when I did it. Mailchimp does make it easy with drag and drop features which is so nice! The hardest part is deciding on your layout, colors, etc. Once you get that done you can save it as a template. 

Saving it as your template however makes future newsletters much easier. You just change up the information you’re sending, but the layout and everything remains the same. That helps for two reasons 1) saves you time and 2) keeping it fairly consistent in looks helps with your author branding. 

Second point What to talk about

My best advice on this is to subscribe to one or two authors that write your genre to see what they do. That’s what I did. It gave me an idea of what readers could be expecting from me so I could proceed accordingly. 

I break mine down into sections. Top is the greeting and the main reason I’m sending. The middle is any talk about sales, promotions, new releases of friends and such that might be of interest to my subscribers. The end is a fun section called Cocktail Corner. Here I share a fun drink recipe that fits the tone of the newsletter. That’s pretty much it. I keep it short and simple for the most part. You don’t want them to be long drawn out things. Short, punchy, and fun. You want your content to be something your subscribers look forward to. 

One author I subscribed to had a serial story going. You got a new chapter with each newsletter. Another offers up snippets of the books they’d read and reviewed. Like finding your author voice, figuring out what content to share will be a personal thing. Don’t over think and try not to stress.

That leads us to the final point. How often. 

That also is up to you. Some authors do a set schedule of weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly. I do nothing of the sort. I joke that my real tagline is consistently inconsistent. LOL I only send out my newsletters when I have something to share. That means they are typically far and few in between unless I have an upcoming release. 

I do special first look things like cover reveals or sharing of chapters. Sometimes teasing of new WIPs. Point is when I send one I want my subscribers to know it’s new and “important” news I’m sharing. 

Your newsletter is a tool to help you, but it shouldn’t be “work” and for me sending out something on such a regimented schedule would make it work for me and I wouldn’t want to do it. Plus I fear people being overwhelmed by the volume and want to unsubscribe because I know I have been that person. 

I’ve been sending out newsletters for year now. My list is small because I never tried to do newsletter builders and such. Attempting that now to see how it goes. And I honestly can’t say how many if any sales I get from my newsletter peeps. But that’s the same with any social media marketing. It’s simply another tool in my arsenal. I try to keep the interactions engaging even there and not do a hard buy, buy, buy because no one wants that. LOL 

If you’ve been on the fence about starting a newsletter, hopefully the few bits I’ve shared today help ease your mind a little. 

Until next time

~Meka

20 thoughts on “#AuthorToolBoxBlogHop – Newsletter Woes

    • Meka James says:

      LOL glad I’m not alone. I have all the plans and ideas but not the same amount of follow through. I should do better. And you’re welcome. I hope they help should you take on a newsletter.

      thanks for stopping by

      Liked by 1 person

    • Meka James says:

      Yes they can be! Hey, if you have a system that works for you then keep with it! That’s all we can hope for, finding something that’s easy, and works for what we need.

      thanks for stopping by

      Like

  1. Louise Brady, Author says:

    Great tips 🙂 I dread starting a newsletter so I keep putting it off! I keep thinking I’ll leave it until I’ve finished a first draft as by then I’ll hopefully have more to say.
    I agree about frequency: In my eyes once a month is plenty, and I unsubscribe to anyone who emails more than once a week!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Meka James says:

      I was the same way. I looked at it as so much work for the longest time. But I’ve kicked it off now and so far so good. With anything, you have to make it fit your needs so if you take it up, don’t stress about it too much.

      More than once a week is a sure fire way to get me to unsubscribe. LOL

      thanks for stopping by

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Vania Margene Rheault says:

    I haven’t started a newsletter, but I’m thinking that’s going to be more of a necessity the more books I put out. I don’t think I’ll use mailchimp though. With the changes they’ve made, i feel like a different platform would be a better use of funds. I need to research all that though. joanna penn gave this advice on one of her podcasts: don’t find a platform that will only meet your needs now. find one that will meet your needs five years from now, or ten. so i’ll be careful which platform i go with. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Meka James says:

      Yes, some people really swear by them. So far I’ve not ‘seen’ a direct benefit aka more sales, but still I do it. I figure like with everything else in this business it takes time. Oh yeah, those changes. Have to say it sucks they are switching things up, but since I’m on the free one with such a small list I stayed for now. It’s hard to know what’s right because when I was researching beforehand Mailchimp was all the rage and now they borked that up and folks are talking MailerLite. For now Mailchimp works for me so I didn’t bother with the hassle of moving platforms. Good luck if you should decide to take up sending one out. 🙂

      thanks for stopping by

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Brigitte Kirady says:

    I’m not at the newsletter stage just yet, but yeah, I agree they do become a necessary evil. Mainly, I know how effective they can be – albeit annoying to potential buyers if you don’t get it right (sending unimportant content, sending too often…). I used MailChimp in my non-writing professional life and it was a great tool. Easy to use, good tracking system and it integrates well with CRM tools as well, something I plan to start using once I’ve actually reached the marketing stage of my novel. I haven’t worked out how exactly to use both tools to track newsletter effectiveness, but I’m hopeful there’s a way to do it! Great top, thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Meka James says:

      Yes they are along with all of marketing LOL. Finding that balance is key. You want it frequent enough that they don’t forget about you, but not too frequent that you annoy them. I do the bare minimum in Mailchimp. LOL I recreate the newsletter and go, I just got around to doing segmented sends instead of one single blast. Baby steps for me. It’s good you are already familiar with the system so you won’t have the same learning curve to deal with.

      thanks for stopping by

      Like

    • Meka James says:

      Adding the cocktail corner has been fun. My sister fussed at me because I’d not tested them out beforehand. Now whenever we have a family gathering I use them as test subjects. So far so good on that. And I understand how some say send more to stay in engaged, but I can’t do it. I don’t want to sent ‘fluff’ newsletters just for the sake of them. This way when my subs get them, they hopefully feel they are important.

      thanks for stopping by

      Like

  4. AuthorSarahKrewis says:

    I haven’t really thought about a newsletter yet and probably won’t until I have a few books under my belt. Also, that Georgia heat can kill you! Formatting can too lol. I’m glad you survived them both and yay for new books! Thank you for sharing your tips for newsletters! I’ll save this as a reference. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Meka James says:

      I was resistant as well and I set up my account long before I actually put out one. LOL Take your time and focus on what matters most to you right now. There is always so much to juggle at any given time. GA heat can be something else to deal with. You’d think I’d be use to it living here all my life, but nope. LOL Formatting gives me more gray hairs for sure. hahaha

      thanks for stopping by.

      Like

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