Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Word Witch Wednesday - The Quest to Perfect the Newsletter


I've been trying different strategies when it comes to my newsletter (NL), and I'm forever researching them. I've even signed up for dozens of them. Probably more than 100. Yeah, you can imagine how my inbox looks!

But it is very helpful in seeing how authors set up their NLs, what works and what doesn't, and what motivates subscribers to keep reading.

Here's the info I gathered:
- authors who send out their NLs daily offer little more than "buy my or my friends' books"
- authors who send out their NLs weekly have more exclusive content, but still are mainly just advertising books
- authors who send out their NLs monthly (or less) feature the most personal content and news

- almost all authors offer something free to new subscribers
- a few authors offer something for free in every NL while more hold giveaways
- giveaways for gift cards get more responses than giveaways for books

- most authors only offer excerpts or first chapters when a new release comes out
- less than half talk about what they're writing now
- less than half have a NL and a blog
- less than 10% of authors talk about what's going on their lives

My preferences as a reader:
- I don't like the daily NLs, and I especially don't like the NLs where the author is advertising another author's books and says nothing at all about what they personally are doing
- I will enter giveaways, but only for books if I like the author's work
- I read NLs most often when they offer something special or personal like their experience at a recent signing, a family trip, or a regular feature that isn't focused on books

What I have tried as an author:
- I offered up a free ebook to new subscribers. It's not much of a motivator, and I would prefer to sell the book instead. After my poll on Monday, I have decided to write a short story that will be exclusive to new subscribers.
- I've tried drip campaigns (a series of NLs sent every week). Subscribers do not respond better or worse to them. I get the same amount of opens and clicks for the campaigns as I do normally.
- I sent out one NL recently that offered no giveaways or freebies. I had the most amount of unsubscribes I've ever gotten and my first spam complaint.
- I've tried numerous NL swaps. They did not bring me more subscribers or sales.

What I am going to try this year:
- I will pull back on how frequently I send out my NL. My next one comes out on March 17th, and then I won't send out another until mid-April. Monthly (except on special occasions) seems like the best way to go for me.
- I will try to always have a giveaway or freebie involved, whether it be one I'm participating in or a link to an author's I like.
- I want to add in personal news and/or a feature, but I still want to keep the NL separate from my blog. They are not the same thing, and I won't treat them as such.

Do you have a newsletter? Do you subscribe to any? What do you like and don't like about them?

23 comments:

  1. Good examples and your plan sounds great. We recently tried monthly Amazon GC giveaways for newsletter subscribers...to see who won a reader actually has to open and read the newsletter.

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  2. Someone complained because you were offering nothing for free? That is really crappy.
    You know what to do and what not to do now. Make it happen.
    Hope the IWSG newsletter does most things right.

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  3. When I had a newsletter for my series, it went out monthly. I never offered anything free but I did have some personal info each time.

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  4. I think your plan sounds good. One newsletter I enjoy is Jodi Picoult's - she has a regular feature with Q and A, like "What's Jodi listening to?" and "What's Jodi reading?" I don't know why exactly but I like that. :)

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  5. I'm just starting work on my own newsletter. This is a goldmine! Thank you :)

    Right now, I think I'm going to send a newsletter every month. However, that may drift to every 6-8 weeks. Probably more often when I have a new book and less often when I don't. This is totally new territory for me.

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  6. NRB, I do like that strategy.

    Alex, I guess that means I got rid of people who weren't really subscribing for anything other than free stuff! And yes, the IWSG newsletter is fantastic. I read it from top to bottom every month. :)

    Diane, thanks for your input.

    Madeline, I sometimes put up what I'm reading. Maybe I should do it every time!

    Carol, good luck!

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  7. I subscribe to a few. Mainly out of interest for the author, not the freebies. My favourite is that of Katie Fforde. She sends out seasonal newsletters and tells her readers about what she's been up to with writing and also includes more personal info. I love reading them. I must say, when it pops in my inbox I get excited and read it immediately, whereas the more frequent newsletters are read when I'm in the mood or they are just scanned before being deleted. I also like the layout of Katie Fforde's newsletters - it is personal to the reader and reflects the author's character.

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  8. Thanks for sharing your experiences! It's really helpful. ^_^ I haven't tried a newsletter yet. I started the process, but I'm going to hold off for a while and focus on getting content up for my author site first. On the newsletters I'm subscribed to, I think monthly is a great schedule. I have one that sends newsletters out quarterly. Sometimes I forget about her completely, and this is someone I know personally. Haha.

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  9. Gah! Someone complained when you didn’t offer a freebie. Wow.
    I do have a NL. It's sent out rarely, which I say when ya sign up. (I sent out two last year). The NLs

    The NL, I end up staying subscribed to send out once a month AT MOST. Email is a big part of daily life-business, friends, family, etc, that lots of NLs get in the way. In NLs I like to be privy to sneak peaks and info before it goes live on the person site.

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  10. I love the amount of research you've done into this. I'm not a huge fan of newsletters, mostly because of the bad ones you highlighted; I want exclusive content that's interesting, not a daily reminder to buy someone's books. I mean, at a certain point, it just feels like spam. So kudos to you for not going that route!

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  11. LOL, I've signed up for that many too and followed blogs, last count on blog follows was 169. I do it for study and for those I really enjoy reading too. After awhile those that bombard me several times a week I will only read them when the headline catches my attention otherwise I delete because this gets time consuming. I have other areas I need to put my time. My faves and friends I always read.

    I like exclusive to email short stories, stuff about new releases, recommendations in moderation and freebies to some extent. I like hearing about the writing process, the goals, the authors life, and their business.

    Juneta @ Writer's Gambit

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  12. Great feedback:) I have a newsletter and I subscribe to a bunch as well. I've found a lot of people email me about how I've marketed my book, so my posts tend to focus on answering their questions. :)

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  13. I appreciate you sharing your research here. There doesn't seem to be any hard and fast rule but I get a feeling most people would prefer less frequent mailings, especially if you subscribe to a lot. Still need to launch mine!

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  14. Nicola, that newsletter sounds just right!

    Krystal, I agree with you. Monthly is just right.

    Holly, and you sent out one today. :)

    ABFTS, totally. I'm tempted to mark them as spam if I didn't feel guilty about it!

    Juneta, thanks for sharing what you like in NLs.

    Mark, that's awesome!

    Nick, good luck!

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  15. Hi Christine - great followup post re Newsletters - seems you're on the right track ... thanks for the info - cheers Hilary

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  16. I think adding a personal feature is a really good idea.

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  17. Yup. The first time I sent out a newsletter with no giveaway, I had tons of unsubscribes and a spam complaint. And when I do giveaways, I get subscribers who immediately unsubscribe after they don't win. :/

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  18. That's a great idea to limit the new short story to subscribers only.
    If someone sends out a newsletter every day I unsubscribe. Can't stand it. I think monthly is a great way to go. Sounds like you are on the right track with your plans. Good luck!

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  19. I think monthly newsletters are reasonable. Even quarterly. People don't like being inundated with stuff. Interesting about your experience when you didn't have a giveaway. People like free stuff.

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  20. Sounds like adding something personal to newsletters is a wise idea. I'll have to try to incorporate that into mine.

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  21. My gmail account actually throws all the newsletters into my promotions or social tabs so sometimes I miss stuff. However, I know that I like them monthly - the weekly ones get deleted unless the headlines are awesome. I don't mind "news" links for publications in the first three months books are out. I also like freebies, but that's not what sells me on a newsletter. I like a bit of personal news that hasn't been posted all over yet - but not too much. For instance, C. Lee McKenzie puts a few tidbits about her travels and writing in her newsletter and her blog and they alwayse seem to be slightly different. She asks good questions, too. I haven't gotten one off the ground. I struggled with mailchimp, which is supposed to be a no-brainer, so I switched to a service that worked but then changed their requirements so now I'm back to monkeying around with mailchimp. Agh. I hope to get it figured out by April and then stick with it.

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  22. This is really interesting insight and such a great topic. Thank you for sharing Christine. =-)

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