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What are your experiences with Newsletters?

Discussion in 'Marketing' started by Nynor, May 16, 2021.

  1. Nynor

    Nynor New Member

    Hi there folks. I’m new to the forum, but trying to decide if a Newsletter is the right way for me to go to market my book.

    For the past couple weeks, I’ve been working to set one up, but before I decided to pull the trigger, I decided to talk to my writing coach, who has a lot of experience with newsletters, albeit from a B2B perspective.

    He said that it’s very likely I’ll get very low open rates and it’s going to to suck away time I could spend writing my book. That... leaves me feeling unsure.

    So here’s my question: for those of you who have tried a newsletter, how were the results, and if you could do it again, would you?
  2. Chasejxyz

    Chasejxyz Sage

    All marketing is a numbers game. Pretty much all email is going to have a low open rate (besides stuff like "your order has shipped here's your tracking number"), almost all advertising has a really low rate of people acting on it. How many ads on Facebook do you click? How often do you actually respond to those pre-approved credit card letters? If you have a 1% open rate, if you only have 100 subscribers then you're going to get 1 person. But if you have 10,000 subscribers, that's 100 people. That's why people throw as wide of a net as possible (highway billboards, national ad buys during big shows). Building that audience takes time and/or money, but if you buy mailing lists from someplace and "cold email" people, you run the risk of getting them mad, so don't do that.

    So you'll have to build your audience organically, through your website, social media etc. Your emails should be quick and easy until it's built up enough that fine-tuning is worthwhile. Collate content that you've posted elsewhere, like tweets you've made about awards you've one, where to find short stories in various magazines, what conventions you'll be vending at, excerpts from blog posts....if you do that once a month and take 30 minutes - 1 hour to do that, then that's not really going to take away any time from your writing at all.

    My day job is digital marketing for a bookseller, and we use a ton of different channels, which I would recommend you do, too. So email newsletters, social media posts, your blog, getting people to review your stuff on their blogs, being a guest on other peoples blogs/podcasts...you don't want to put all your eggs in one basket, because many of these things rely on someone else's technology or algorithm. People would use "tracking pixels" which were invisible image files that an email would load when someone opens them so that you could track opens...but then Gmail and Yahoo started "pre-loading" images on their servers, so instead of 100,000 images being loaded for 100,000 customers, 1 image would be loaded 100,000 times for those 100,000 customers. So you would only get 1 open, from a "robot," instead of a desktop/tablet/iphone/etc. Facebook is always tweaking their algorithms and punishes people who don't spend on ads. Google is constantly updating their SEO best practices...it can seem like a lot of work to post in a bunch of places, but a lot of stuff you can reuse/tweak for multiple places. Don't overthink it too much.
  3. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

    What do you want to put in this newsletter?
    Why would I want to read that?

    I have a newsletter because I wanted to tell subscribers more about Altearth. Stuff that doesn't really fit into a story. I also wanted to have articles about real history, as well as a bit about me (books and music I like). And updates on how I'm progressing on Altearth tales. I produce one newsletter every other month. Six issues a year.

    I don't view this as a marketing tool; I view it as a connection tool. Now, tbh, I have so few subscribers (~100) that there's not much connection to be had. But I don't try to make more of the newsletter than a pleasant labor.

    For marketing I do Amazon ads, plus promos once or twice a year. I'm still trying out various platforms for that. So for me, marketing is very much over *here* while the newsletter is over *there*. It can be a great tool once you have hundreds (or thousands) of subscribers, but I'm far from that.
  4. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

    I don't have a newsletter or a blog. Instead I sometimes contribute to the MythicScribes home page, which I think has a higher reach and takes less of my time than anything I did on my own.

    Twitter has been purchasing companies that suggest it's about to launch its own newsletter platform. If I were going to go it alone right now I think I would want to wait until that happens.

    The hardest part is having something good enough to say in a newsletter. It's more important to develop your "newsletter voice" and content style as soon as you can.

    However, I rather agree with your writing coach. Writing a newsletter is similar to writing fiction, but it's not exactly the same. There's a whole new learning curve to writing it, plus the resources you spend marketing the newsletter you could spend marketing your book directly, and then it's a huge time sink besides. Unless you already have an article writing voice, or experience with social media marketing, or a leg up on building a website, it might be more hassle than it's worth. But that all depends on you. A newsletter is what you make of it.
  5. Prince of Spires

    Prince of Spires Maester

    The best resource I've heard about for newsletters is the book Newletter Ninja. I haven't read it yet, but it's worth checking out. An interesting perspective of someone who made it work can be found on: Home - Your First 10,000 Readers (yourfirst10kreaders.com) (though keep in mind this guy started a "long" time ago and free books simply don't do as well anymore as when he started).

    My main thought on newsletters is that it's a long term numbers game. Don't expect to have a large newsletter following with high open rates as soon as you put out your first book. But, once you get there then it can be golden. It's pretty much the only channel you have direct control over as an author. If Amazon decides to change their algorithm which makes your books impossible to find (has happened to people in the past), then you've still got your newsletter to tell your fans about your book. If Facebook blocks you for no reason whatsover (again, happens to people), then you've still got your newsletter fans.

    Also, it's pretty much free marketing. If you can sell 10 books by sending a simple newsletter, then that's 10 books you don't need to sell using ads. And they're 10 books which help your rank on Amazon, which increases visibility, which gives you a bigger chance to sell more books. It's a place where you can ask readers to leave you a review, which again helps you sell books. And it's a tool you can use to participate in newsletter swaps, which is again free publicity.

    So I think in the long term newsletters are golden. It just takes time to get there.

    One thing to keep in mind is that it very much depends on how people sign up to your newsletter. If someone signs up because they saw a link in the backmatter of your book, then there's a decent chance he will open a newsletter you send. If it's a signup because you offered a free book in exchange for the signup, then expect to never hear from that person again. But 20-30% open rates for a well curated list with organic signups is actually pretty manageable. And then if you have 200 subscribers, a 20% open rate and half of those buy your book, then you've sold 20 books with a single email. That's hard to top.

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