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Elenitsa
11-21-2018, 11:46 PM
I keep seeing that we should collect e-mail addresses for periodical newsletters. What to tell in the newsletters? Why is the newsletter better than a blog post, or a FB post? I think these spread more worldwide (especially if one puts the blog post on FB page too).

Don't get me wrong, I know how to write a newsletter. I am writing one for the RPG site I manage, for 8 years. But even that, is posted directly on the site, with the link posted on FB and the site tumblr, just like I'd post a writer's blog post.

Whibs123
11-21-2018, 11:58 PM
I would say that email isn't likely to go anywhere, while FB probably will. Virtually no one I know actually uses FB anymore. Most people use IG, some will set their IG to auto post to FB just in case. And Blogs... I feel like those are fine as something EXTRA. Furthermore, NLs can be tightly curated. /you can see who opens your letter, who clicks on the links inside. This is useful for a number of reasons.

I'm not saying FB and blogs are useless. I have both, as well as IG (though I'm leaning towards just auto posting on FB from IG). But organic subscribers to your NL are generally people who actually want to hear what you have to say.

And as for what to say, generally I send NLs out when I'm offering a discount, have a new release, or sharing something of interest. Email just seems to be the most consistent means of communication and most likely to have more longevity than the current social media platform.

Elenitsa
11-22-2018, 10:31 AM
It would make sense to announce that a new novel is appearing, or to invite them to a launching event.

The idea is that I keep seeing the newsletters should be regular, every 2 weeks or every month, when I am writing 1-2 books a year. I don't do other discounts than the book fair does, twice a year. And for short stories published in the magazines, that's not what the newsletter is for, this is what a blog is for. (Because yes, in my country it is allowed to publish the short story on my blog after it was published in a magazine).

lizmonster
11-22-2018, 04:49 PM
I do mine for fun, and self-discipline. It keeps me working, even on days when I'd rather pull the covers over my head and go back to bed. I don't believe it's gaining me any readers, but it does remind a few people (and I mean a FEW - I don't have a huge subscriber list, althouh I do post them to the web at the same time as I email them and tweet/FB the link) that I'm still here, and I still have things in the works.

You've written enough about the business in your country, though, that I'm aware things are quite different there. Don't know if that extends to the effectiveness of newsletters.

Elenitsa
11-22-2018, 11:56 PM
Yes, Liz, I think regular newsletters and email lists work more for e-books, which I don't have. People can order online my novels (and a few did it), but I am still the one who receives the orders and gets the package to the post office. And those who want to have regular news from me, subscribed to my FB page or to my blog.

xanaphia
11-24-2018, 01:32 AM
Because of the way FB algorithms are set up, even people who follow your page on FB might not see all your posts. Email bypasses those sorts of algorithms. In your case, I would give short, periodic updates on my work, links to those blog posts when they contain short stories, as well as mentioning which magazines are publishing them. I also use mine to do swaps with other writers, so I promote them to my subs, and they promote me to their subs. I talk about my characters or the greater overall world, (I write fantasy, so there is a lot of world building I can expound upon).

Elenitsa
11-24-2018, 10:39 AM
Thank you. This might be an idea, Xanaphia! :) I'll try to follow it. We'll see with what success.

If I am not mistaking you for someone else, and you were a member of RPG-D, then we have been acquainted before.

cool pop
11-24-2018, 08:40 PM
A mailing list is essential because it's the ONE place where you can gather true supporters. You need your own space where you can connect with your loyal readers. Social networks are NOT a replacement for a mailing list because you are relying on someone else's platform for your audience. Say FB closes tomorrow and if you only contact with readers through FB pages, etc, then how will you connect with all those readers if FB disappeared? You couldn't and you'd be stuck out with no way to reach your fans.

Also, not every reader is going to know about your blog, website, FB page or care about it. Most readers don't even think to go to authors' sitea and blogs. We tend to forget that everyone is NOT on FB either. I mean if I had to depend on a blog to keep up with an author I wouldn't keep up with them because I don't read author blogs and I don't check their sites but I might sign up for their mailing list. It's also convenient for readers because they can get your information right in their inbox without having to search for when you release a new book, etc.

Also, with a FB page, unless you spend money to boost then only a tiny percentage of the people on your page will see what you post. Nothing compares to a mailing list. It's the one place for your core fans and readers. The people who sign up really love your work so they are irreplaceable.

Depending on a social network or site to build fans leaves you just that...dependent on whatever site you use. But what would you do if you no longer had that site? You will always have your mailing list though.

It's easy to build a list. Just post your link in your books and let people sign up organically. No more and no less.

I only send when I have a new release or announcement about book discount, etc.

cool pop
11-24-2018, 08:50 PM
I would say that email isn't likely to go anywhere, while FB probably will. Virtually no one I know actually uses FB anymore. Most people use IG, some will set their IG to auto post to FB just in case. And Blogs... I feel like those are fine as something EXTRA. Furthermore, NLs can be tightly curated. /you can see who opens your letter, who clicks on the links inside. This is useful for a number of reasons.

I'm not saying FB and blogs are useless. I have both, as well as IG (though I'm leaning towards just auto posting on FB from IG). But organic subscribers to your NL are generally people who actually want to hear what you have to say.

And as for what to say, generally I send NLs out when I'm offering a discount, have a new release, or sharing something of interest. Email just seems to be the most consistent means of communication and most likely to have more longevity than the current social media platform.

Exactly! You can't depend on FB or any other site to build your brand. Who knows how long FB will last with all the mess going on with them lately? Does anyone remember MySpace? It was THE social network until FB came along and MS died instantly. It's not a good idea to rely on a social media network to harvest your fans. And you made a good point that not everyone is on FB. I know for a fact many have left and are still leaving. I can't see that changing due to FB's issues. The mistrust thing really killed them and people moved on after that.

You need to have a way to always reach your fans and a mailing list is that.

Elenitsa
11-24-2018, 11:46 PM
It's easy to build a list. Just post your link in your books and let people sign up organically. No more and no less.

How to put the link in the books? Only the publisher puts the publishing house's e-mail address (or phone number, I don't remember exactly, but it is something for the eventual contact with the publisher), on the inside first page, just below the ISBN. I have never seen a book with the writer's e-mail address in it. Where to put it? (Assuming the publisher agrees). I thought (and it happened this way) that people who read my books and liked them, sought for my FB page and liked it.

I will try to ask the publisher, to see what he says...

I would build the list from those who had ordered online one of my books, and from the blog and FB followers, I think.

Filigree
11-25-2018, 04:28 AM
I've toyed with the thought of a dedicated newsletter. Right now I just collect emails for blog posts (on my self-hosted site), and push notifications out that way.

cool pop
11-25-2018, 06:06 AM
How to put the link in the books? Only the publisher puts the publishing house's e-mail address (or phone number, I don't remember exactly, but it is something for the eventual contact with the publisher), on the inside first page, just below the ISBN. I have never seen a book with the writer's e-mail address in it. Where to put it? (Assuming the publisher agrees). I thought (and it happened this way) that people who read my books and liked them, sought for my FB page and liked it.

I will try to ask the publisher, to see what he says...

I would build the list from those who had ordered online one of my books, and from the blog and FB followers, I think.

You need to have a mailing list first. You need to open an account with Mailchimp or any mailing list company of your choice then you will make a sign-up form and then you tell your pub to post THAT link in your books either in the back or the front. You can also have your email and website put in the books too. When I was with pubs I simply sent my pubs the link (no they actually asked us for our links) and they would put them in the book at the beginning usually. Did your publisher not even ask if you had a website or mailing list? Many expect that you at least have a website these days so I am surprised they didn't ask this already. Either way, just send them the links and tell them to include them. But, as I said you gotta set up a mailing list first. Just having an email address won't help. People need to opt into your mailing list so they'd need a link. Also, make sure you have an address that you don't mind being public for your mailing list. It's the law that an address must be available to subscribers when your mailings go out. All the mailing list companies require one. If you don't have one, you need to get a P.O. box or virtual email address or some authors use their work address, etc. I wouldn't use my home address because you don't want readers having your address. Ask your publisher if you can use their address. It's just to have a physical address listed, nine times out of ten readers won't be contacting you through snail mail.

Also, you can't put people on your list. People have to sign up for your list. Signing people to your list without permission is against the CAN SPAM law. It is illegal to sign people up for your lists without permission. You need to share the link to your sign-up form with your fans on FB, wherever and tell them to sign up for your list if they want. You can't just add people.

cool pop
11-25-2018, 06:18 AM
The CAN-SPAM law if anyone is interested: https://www.ftc.gov/tips-advice/business-center/guidance/can-spam-act-compliance-guide-business

Elenitsa
11-25-2018, 09:56 AM
This seems all so complicated. I don't know how to make a subscribing form.

lizmonster
11-25-2018, 04:05 PM
This seems all so complicated. I don't know how to make a subscribing form.

There are services that will do it for you. I use Mailchimp, and it's pretty simple.

cool pop
11-26-2018, 01:10 AM
This seems all so complicated. I don't know how to make a subscribing form.

As Liz and I pointed out you have to open up an account with a mailing list company like Mailchimp. It's not hard but just something you're not used to. Once you open an account, Mailchimp explains everything you need to know in steps. You will be able to not only gather email addresses with the sign up form but you will be able to construct your newsletter through Mailchimp and send it out. They handle everything. All you do is promote to gather your subscribers and write the emails. Mailchimp automatically does everything else. They even show you who unsubscribes and when the mailings bounce, etc.

CathleenT
11-26-2018, 06:34 PM
No matter where you live, email has one critical advantage--posts simply show up in readers' inboxes. All they have to do is open them.

This is huge. For every other form of promotion, readers have to take some kind of action, completely on their own. First, they have to remember your name, and this by itself is a hurdle. Then they have to go to the relevant place--blog, Facebook, or what-have-you--and sift through anything else you might have posted to find out stuff about your new book.

Also, for email providers, this is a YMMV thing, but if you're not well-versed in email, I'd recommend MailerLite over MailChimp (I've had both). MailChimp will give you more free subscribers--2k to MailerLite's 1k--but I found that the better customer support (chat and tutorials) with MailerLite means I'll be much more likely to ever hit 2k subscribers, even if I'll have to pay for my newsletter after 1k. MailerLite also has some canned branding stuff that I've found quite useful for formatting my letters as well. With MailChimp, if I ran into problems, I was told that if I wanted any customer support, I had to switch to a paid plan.

cool pop
11-26-2018, 09:26 PM
No matter where you live, email has one critical advantage--posts simply show up in readers' inboxes. All they have to do is open them.

This is huge. For every other form of promotion, readers have to take some kind of action, completely on their own. First, they have to remember your name, and this by itself is a hurdle. Then they have to go to the relevant place--blog, Facebook, or what-have-you--and sift through anything else you might have posted to find out stuff about your new book.

So true! Look, people are lazy. LOL! Many don't wanna go hunting down for a link or a book that's why they sign up for lists. Readers who sign up for lists often don't have the time or desire to follow you online, browse stores or Google just to find out if you got a new book. They want it delivered to them where they can get it instantly. It's so hard to sell books as it is so we should make it as easy as possible for readers to find us.

As for Mailerlite vs. Mailchimp, the only issue is Mailerlite requires you to have a site with a domain name which makes no sense to me. Every author doesn't have a site or if they do, might not have their own domain name for whatever reason. It's surprising how they make this a requirement when even MC doesn't. There are many authors without websites. I have one but many feel they don't need it, which is their choice. I just wonder why ML feels like not having an email with a domain name is a big deal. Just because you have a domain email doesn't mean you won't be spamming or breaking the rules if that's what they think. Plus, many authors with sites don't use the domain email address. I don't. I use my AOL and Gmail addresses as my main author addresses. I'd wager most authors do because it's easier. Can't remember the last time I saw an author actively promoting a domain email address.

There are other mailing list companies one can check out too. Sendinblue is one.

CathleenT
11-27-2018, 07:36 AM
My understanding about the domain name requirement is that some providers don't want to see emails coming from private addresses, especially not yahoo or hotmail because so many spammers used them. They're supposed to have a high rate of being caught in spam filters. I figured it's hard enough getting people to open these things as it is. No point in stacking the odds against me.

I did a lot more research than this at the time, but here's a link with some info on it (sorry, but I didn't save links when I researched): https://www.doteasy.com/domain-email-and-website-hosting-articles/why-do-i-need-a-domain-email-address.

ETA: I'd choose a major email provider, unless you're really good at tech and know the work-arounds. You might want to promote someday using BookFunnel or the former Instafreebie (now known as Prolific Works, which has a lot of people scratching their heads). Both of those will gather email addresses and send them straight to you somehow if you've got either MailChimp or MailerLite. Maybe by now they'll do it for some of the other big players, too, like AWeber, but I don't think smaller providers are likely to be included. Last time I checked, when it was still Instafreebie, they only supported MC and ML.

tiddlywinks
11-27-2018, 10:59 AM
So...there are a lot of email service providers out there. A lot. And they come with all different types of price tags depending on the level of service and features you want. Just because they are newer kids on the block, like SendInBlue, doesn't make them more or less worthy of consideration. I work in digital marketing and communications for my day job, and I've seen a number of older players that frankly need to die a fiery death before they mess up my #@%$ email html code one more time...(but I digress). If anyone is looking for some quick comparisons, well, there are a lot out there. A couple quickies I found that provide some pick lists with comparisons are here (https://www.wpbeginner.com/showcase/best-email-marketing-services/)and here (https://hostingfacts.com/best-email-marketing-services/). (Note: I do NOT guarantee whether or not said linkies are the most awesomely written posts, but they have been updated fairly recently and are slanted towards bloggers/smaller businesses, which I thought more apropos for this crowd.)

*cough* Based on experience, I wouldn't recommend Icontact - it's not on the lists above, but is a fairly (not free) major player. Just in case you see it somewhere else.

As Cathleen pointed out, if you are going to use a service like ProlificWorks, maybe that should factor into your decision-making process, but frankly, technology is changing all the time and integration among service providers is and should be an expanding part of an advertising/review platform like PW. MailChimp and MailerLite are hardly the only or biggest players out there. I wonder if PW gives them preference because of their more robust free service levels versus some of the other market players? Hmm. A question for another day.

Gmail for your email address...eh, that one's kind of in gray territory. Doesn't quite have the spam factor that yahoo or hotmail do. Would it be more professional to have an email address that includes your domain? Sure. That's also going to cost $, which not everyone has. In the grand scheme of things, assuming you already have your domain, a business email like that will run you $5/month depending on what service you set it up through (heck, you can do it through Google GSuite if you want - I'm still miffed they stopped allowing that for free, but I digress. Again.) Also, bear in mind that your email service provider factors into the spam filtering. MailChimp for example is pretty good on being whitelisted and gets through about 90% of the time, last I paid attention to those stats. AWeber is better, but also $$. Eh. A lot of whether or not you get flagged as spam comes down to how you actually craft your newsletter, your image to text ratio, your subject line, blah blah blah.

Have I made anyone run screaming yet? *whispers: "Sorry"* :greenie

*digital marketing geek tries to rein herself in*

I haven't used MailerLite so I can't speak to that. I've used MailChimp for years for small venture things and find it simple and intuitive. Easy to change things if you know a bit of coding. Just enough data not to overwhelm you if you are doing this solo. And yeah, the free part for the initial subscribers is pretty awesome. You might want to have a plan for migrating to a different paid ESP once you hit the non-free mark (or do a comparison at the very least - it doesn't hurt). Many of the paid ESP providers run about $15-20/month for their base service/subscriber count levels. On a work level, we've toyed with switching over to ConstantContact if we don't finally implement marketing automation this year - ConstantContact is a pretty popular paid option.

Personally, I wouldn't start out with a paid ESP if I'm a beginner in email marketing or I'm not yet published. Keep it simple. Test the waters, find something you like and that you can stick to on a regular basis. Because if you start to send a newsletter, a regular rhythm is key. Whether it's once a quarter or once a month, stick to it (frankly, once a month at most is fine for most authors). Random and haphazard sending does not a good marketing experience make; that's a good way to lose subscribers or get reported as a spammer when people forgot they signed up for your list in the first place. (And as cool pop emphasized, please please please for the love make sure people ask to be put on your list. And make sure they can easily unsubscribe from the list - also an important legality...and one easily taken care of if you are using an ESP.)

Anyway, back to the OP's other question: why use an enewsletter. And maybe thoughts for how? Well...as has already been stated, it's an oldie but goodie marketing tool. A) because it's effective at reaching your audience. (ignore people who say email marketing is dead. They've been saying that for at least 12 years now. :roll:) B) because you can see exactly who is and is not engaging with your content. C) if you're a little savvy, you can do all kinds of cool stuff, like testing what email copy works better before you blow an email that doesn't work on your whole list, you can identify your biggest supporters, and hey, it can actually lead to sales...oooh, shineyyyy...

As for what you might want to consider for an enewsletter, well, maybe you should first ask who is your audience and what do THEY want to read about? Email marketing involves content marketing, and it's not about you. It's about your readers. Know your target audience, give them what they want, and earn yourself a loyal readership (and good luck because I don't have a magic formula, sorry...but I have glitter??)

*cough, sorry, cough*

If you write about swashbuckling adventures on the high seas, they might be interested in all that research you've done on ship types. Or how people avoided scurvy, etc. (Pick something from your research that excites you to write about and would enrich your readers' experience of the world you've created.) Tell them a story that isn't just about you the author or about how they should buy your book. Key word: story. The enewsletters I open on a regular basis provide me with useful information, laughs, things I want to read more about, exciting cool news, etc. They tell a story I want to hear.

If you're giving me the side-eye and muttering "Winks, there's no way I can do that every two weeks or every month even". Cool. Then try once a quarter for your grand enewsletter and then when you need it for special announcements. See how that works for ya. And when I say 'grand enewsletter' it can be as long or as short as you want. But think of it as telling a story your audience is interested (not that you are interested in because you want to appeal to your audience/reader and what they want, right? Right!) You could even make it a 'greatest blog hits' collection based on what was most popular on your blog for the quarter, with maybe a link to something brand spanking new thrown in? Spitballing here.

TL;DR enewsletters are a useful marketing tool. Pick an email service provider that works for you. And tell a story your audience wants to hear on a regular basis you can commit to.

Note: any statements that sound like "you must do this" aren't intended that way. I'm just writing to general 'you' here and doing my usual Winks ramble think out loud about enewsletters.

Note 2: do as I say, not as I do. (because no, I do not do an author enewsletter. not yet. because life, don't judge me. :P)

Winks, who hopes something in this long-winded drivel is useful and didn't make everyone run screaming?

Elenitsa
11-27-2018, 02:54 PM
I will try MailChimp and tell you how it works. Thank you very much! All your contributions/ explanations were useful.

I actually had MailChimp sometime ago (at somebody's recommendation) for my RPG site's newsletter, but I stopped because I didn't see an use for it (and I didn't have a subscription form, so I had no idea they made it. I simply sent the e-mail with the forum newsletter link to all those who told me they wanted to receive it).

Yes, I think you convinced me of its usefulness. Now let's say from the many people who subscribed to my FB page, how many are really interested to subscribe to a newsletter :).

CathleenT
11-27-2018, 05:09 PM
Social media to email list conversion? The numbers are dismal. Maybe you'll do better than me, but in two years I gathered a grand total of forty names. Yee-haw. And I get it. Why should they sign up for your list? They already visit your blog or Facebook page.

I went with Voracious Readers this year, and it's netted me 460 more names. (There were actually more people added than this, but a certain amount scoop up your freebie and dump you. Kinda depressing when the most popular link is your unsubscribe button.) On the down side, this has cost around $200. I didn't have the mental focus to try to play much with BookFunnel or Prolific Works, which also cost.

Ha--and that 460 number is going to get worse. I'm about to scrub my email list of the one-third or so who never open my emails. Honestly, sometimes I wonder how anybody makes any money at this at all.

And to do any of this, you'll probably have to give away a book--one of your best, with a genre-typical cover. It doesn't have to be a novel, but it should at least be a novelette, IMO. And whatever you choose as your freebie can't be in KU. I have recently decided that it should be officially pubbed, which means you've got to scramble up that review ladder for at least a solid dozen reviews. Apparently a lot of authors put "also-ran" sorts of books up for their freebie, and they've gotten a bad reputation. I figure that now you'd better have something they can check independently.

Email lists cost. I've decided that since I'm wide, it's my primary form of advertising. Many other wide authors who make boatloads recommend them.

And things like subscription forms are why I went with MailerLite. I still have no idea how to do them in MailChimp. MailerLite has a tutorial, and if you run into a snag after that, you just open up the chat box. For me, ML is a much better option because I just don't know how to do this stuff, and I'm tired of getting stuck partway through a process with no way forward. I want to cross this stuff off and have it done.

And however you do your form, make sure that it's GDPR compliant. The short version is that subscribers need to check a box, and the box says exactly what you will do. In my case it says, "Yes, I want to receive free stories, updates, and special deals."

tiddlywinks
11-29-2018, 05:17 AM
What Cathleen said about GDPR compliant (I just didn't mention that in my mega post because mega long already :greenie)

Polenth
11-30-2018, 01:56 AM
All things are only as useful as you make them, so it's good to be honest with yourself about whether you'd run a good mailing list. I wouldn't. I personally don't like them and I'm not subscribed to any author mailing lists, so I'm already in a bad place for running my own. I can't produce enough content at the speed required for my blog and Patreon, so the idea that I could run a mailing list packed with freebies is not realistic.

For me, it's better to put that time and effort into what I already have, rather than trying to spread myself even more thinly, doing something I don't like anyway.