I’m on the road today in Oakmont, PA at the Mystery Lovers Book Festival. Chances are I’ll meet a lot of people and some of them will sign up for my email updates. To stay in touch with readers, I use a private Yahoo group to which no one else can post. It’s a clunky solution. However, it doesn’t cost me anything and it’s not offensive to the people who’ve opted in.
I’ve also been on the receiving end of quite a few author electronic newsletters. I end up deleting and/or unsubscribing from most of them. Often, they’ve come without an opt-in; someone has harvested my email address and assumed I’d be interested in his or her story. Wrong-o.
But there are some missives that keep me reading. I don’t care a whit about photos, graphics or other layout issues (of course, legibility is a plus). For me, the biggie is content. The newsletters I like best are those that include something beyond the author’s ego — professional tips, interesting tidbits, reasonable personal revelations . . .
I tend to send out my own updates infrequently. Often, I don’t get it together to send them out on a regular basis. And I never send just to stay in touch; I have to have something important to say. You see, I hate getting spam and don’t want my efforts to be considered as such.
My updates are personal, about my writing life, what I’m up to and hope to accomplish. I assume that every single person who has opted in wants to know this information.
Lately, I’ve been doing something different. In my last update, I sent a short selection from The Socorro Blast featuring a character that didn’t make it into the final book. I loved this guy, Byron Hicks, loved everything about him. Only problem was . . . he didn’t have anything to do with the story.
My update readers really enjoyed getting something that no one else had seen. I adored the fact that Byron could take a bow, that he had an audience after all.
Today, let’s look at author newsletters:
What kinds do you like? Despise? Got examples?
What do you feel is important to include?
Heck . . . are they even worth doing in the first place?
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I’ll try to check in on the conversation today. If I can’t, I’ll respond to any comments on Wed.