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What Kboards does best is help the community thrive by sharing ideas. Let's start a thread since mailings lists boggle the mind, and Mark Dawson's incredible post on how FB ads increased his list, got such a great response.

For those who missed it: http://www.kboards.com/index.php/topic,207885.75.html

Once you've got the list, and it's growing, how do you keep it fresh and interesting rather than spammy where you turn readers off (and yourself, because no one likes spam) by selling all the time? The truth is, our readers are the reason we can write, and they are like our best friends in that they GET US. They like us, that's why they signed up and we love them!

How do you entertain in and enliven your emails? How do you spark their hearts and keep them happy they signed up?

I'll start. Based on an idea I read about in a blog or podcast (my brain has been overcome as of late, so I don't remember, just know it was not my idea and I don't claim it), I sent out an email asking my list of 550 for a name for a character in my next story. Over 100 names came my way, and often the fans' responses began with "How fun! How about..." and "Thanks for asking!"

I then sent them an email when the name was chosen, thanking them all for the incredible response, with a notice that the new book was coming by next week. Based on the wonderful ideas in Nick Stephenson's "Reader Magnets" (which was brought to my attention in Mark Dawson's thread and can be found FREE here: http://www.amazon.com/Reader-Magnets-Platform-Marketing-Authors-ebook/dp/B00PCKIJ4C)
...sending a new release notice a week ahead is a good idea to inspire excitement. Especially when you've got a serial and the readers already love the characters, and want more of them.

How about you?
 

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I don't. They're promised when they sign up they won't be getting "chatty" newsletters only a new release note. That's all I give them. New release, blurb, buy links, share with friends/family. They also sometimes get a link to click on a free short. For instance, when I started my 2nd serial under Sibley Jackson they got a couple thousand word Prequel to the story no one else will get. 

I also don't call it a newsletter. I call it a New Release Email.

I don't want to spend time writing a newsletter, and  for me it seems like most people are busy and don't want to spend even more time reading emails than they already are. This might be genre related...it seems romance readers are much "chattier" grouping together on Facebook and other places and spending hours discussing books and men on the covers, etc. Not true for thriller and HF so much.

I have high open rates and decent click throughs, so for my list this is working.
 

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One thing:

''Newsletter'' is boring. So is ''stay up to date''.

A more creative angle would be nicer - like a 'Club', 'Insiders' etc Something that makes people feel like a part of something, an exclusive club or just like-minded people group.

So since authors are creating worlds all the time, it should be done with newsletters too - extend the story, extend the world into it too.

Same applies to websites, they could be way more interesting than author talking about himself in 3rd person on About page or copy/pasting book description into 'Books' page. That's most boring website ever.

Create Worlds not just in the books!
 

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RBC said:
One thing:

''Newsletter'' is boring. So is ''stay up to date''.

A more creative angle would be nicer - like a 'Club', 'Insiders' etc Something that makes people feel like a part of something, an exclusive club or just like-minded people group.

So since authors are creating worlds all the time, it should be done with newsletters too - extend the story, extend the world into it too.

Same applies to websites, they could be way more interesting than author talking about himself in 3rd person on About page or copy/pasting book description into 'Books' page. That's most boring website ever.

Create Worlds not just in the books!
It is weird but true. When we switched from 'Sign up to my newsletter to stay up to date...' blah blah, to 'Join the hunt, reap the rewards' opt-in rates more than doubled. (Example: http://www.kaylapoe.com/mailing-list )
 

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I'm not really into chatty author newsletters either...

But, I did discover that an email that asks a question or a survey of some sort is a great idea and the readers really love to weigh in and be involved. It's a good type of email to send in between releases giving an update on when the next release is coming and asking for their input.

I did that as an experiment, had a short survey with two questions. My books are set in Montana mostly and I asked if they wanted that setting or Boston for a new project I was working on and if they wanted one long book with three intertwined stories or three shorter books with individual stories set in the same world.

I used Survey Monkey which is free for the first 100 responses....and I had my best open and click rate ever on that email. Really surprised me and the information was helpful.
 

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I try to send one out every two weeks. I usually post links to my blog posts, reccomendations of books (not mine), and movies. I read somewhere that you cant also get ideas by using facebook graph search Such as "Pages liked by people who like (name of your facebook page).
 

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Here is what I have as a live link to sign up: Want to be alerted when Sibley publishes a NEW m/m romance and perhaps receive free stories in the future? Click here! For the novels under my name I change to Caddy and novel instead of m/m
 

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PamelaKelley said:
I'm not really into chatty author newsletters either...

But, I did discover that an email that asks a question or a survey of some sort is a great idea and the readers really love to weigh in and be involved. It's a good type of email to send in between releases giving an update on when the next release is coming and asking for their input.

I did that as an experiment, had a short survey with two questions. My books are set in Montana mostly and I asked if they wanted that setting or Boston for a new project I was working on and if they wanted one long book with three intertwined stories or three shorter books with individual stories set in the same world.

I used Survey Monkey which is free for the first 100 responses....and I had my best open and click rate ever on that email. Really surprised me and the information was helpful.
What does ''chatty'' means? Different definitions will cause trouble discussing this. Lot's of meanings for this. :)

I think authors benefit a lot by being a bit chatty. In my definition 'chatty' means light conversations, meeting someone in the same gym as you, favourite bar etc. You don't talk about serious problems etc but still say 'Hi' and have some small talk, laugh etc.

Author doesn't have to be best buddies for life with readers. But not wanting to talk to them at all and not caring about what they like, dislike and not getting to know them at all etc means pretty much a bad thing - one-sided selfish relationship. ''I send you books, you buy them''.

But proven by your survey, chatting to readers can give great insights and might actually be... fun?

Look at it from other perspective too - what if editor, cover designer, proofreader etc was with an attitude of never talking with authors on anything else but the actual job? Cold, professional, calculated.. wouldn't answer questions etc. just do business and leave. And if you had a choice of two people, one 'chattier' and one not, which one would be more pleasant to work with?
 

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Adam Poe said:
It is weird but true. When we switched from 'Sign up to my newsletter to stay up to date...' blah blah, to 'Join the hunt, reap the rewards' opt-in rates more than doubled. (Example: http://www.kaylapoe.com/mailing-list )
Awesome! Congrats! ;)

What's weird about it tho? That people want entertainment and they like stories? :)

And it's actually writer's strength to make these things up.

P.S. What if you renamed your Page for Mailing List in the site menu too? I think that could increase click rate to that page which would probably mean more subscribers too.
 

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RBC said:
What does ''chatty'' means? Different definitions will cause trouble discussing this. Lot's of meanings for this. :)

I think authors benefit a lot by being a bit chatty. In my definition 'chatty' means light conversations, meeting someone in the same gym as you, favourite bar etc. You don't talk about serious problems etc but still say 'Hi' and have some small talk, laugh etc.

Author doesn't have to be best buddies for life with readers. But not wanting to talk to them at all and not caring about what they like, dislike and not getting to know them at all etc means pretty much a bad thing - one-sided selfish relationship. ''I send you books, you buy them''.

But proven by your survey, chatting to readers can give great insights and might actually be... fun?

Look at it from other perspective too - what if editor, cover designer, proofreader etc was with an attitude of never talking with authors on anything else but the actual job? Cold, professional, calculated.. wouldn't answer questions etc. just do business and leave. And if you had a choice of two people, one 'chattier' and one not, which one would be more pleasant to work with?
Ok, what I mean is lots of emails about personal stuff vs. occasional emails and with new release info.

As a reader, who is on a number of mailing lists, I am too busy to read daily or even weekly emails from authors chatting about personal stuff. I really just want to hear about their new book, maybe some behind the scenes info, a cover, and a buy link.

So, that's the expectation I set for my readers too when they sign up for my list. I'm not going to bother them with too many emails. It's just setting the expectation that is right for you. I'm not saying one way is better than another. Just doing what is right for me. If I want chatty, personal stuff, I'll go see their FB or Twitter feeds.
 

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I've talked a lot about newsletters before--mainly here.

I think some people have great success with high interaction directly with readers (i.e. surveys, gathering opinions, responding back and forth), but that's not really my style and it's not something I can contribute much time to. And I don't really consider my email to be "chatty" (which I think is more of a tone thing than anything else), but I do consider it entertaining and try to fill it with information that my readers would find interesting.
 

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PamelaKelley said:
Ok, what I mean is lots of emails about personal stuff vs. occasional emails and with new release info.

As a reader, who is on a number of mailing lists, I am too busy to read daily or even weekly emails from authors chatting about personal stuff. I really just want to hear about their new book, maybe some behind the scenes info, a cover, and a buy link.

So, that's the expectation I set for my readers too when they sign up for my list. I'm not going to bother them with too many emails. It's just setting the expectation that is right for you. I'm not saying one way is better than another. Just doing what is right for me. If I want chatty, personal stuff, I'll go see their FB or Twitter feeds.
What about middle option?

Occasional emails with some personal info (more like how writing is going, not how your family is doing etc). Occasional I mean bi-weekly in this case. :)

And as far as your fav authors go, are they doing a good job in their emails? Maybe they are boring? That's an interesting research. Maybe you can share. If they are doing something great, adopting it is an option. If they are doing something bad (not send frequency wise) that's a good thing to learn too.

Who has the best email newsletter of your followed authors? :)
 

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bethrevis said:
Do you really consider bi-weekly as "occasional"? I consider anything more frequent than once a month to be, well, frequent.
Absolutely. Weekly is normal for me personally. There is a lot of things going on. For average person, who gets less emails I don't think bi-weekly is frequent either. Just enough.

For me, 4-6 weeks is the biggest gap there should be between emails. Just think how many sources of entertainment there are. Easy to forget books.

I'm starting to think bi-weely is probably best mix for authors and readers. Weekly can be bit too much to keep updating esp, if author isn't writing fast. But Bi-weekly is good balance. You can read and recommend a book in that time etc, reader can also be finished with some book so that might be a space opened up for new book for reader and he might be looking for one...

If you email once a month and it drops on the day when someone is busy and they forget to recheck it, then that's another 30 day gap. And then between these, that's 60 days. Quite a lot. And if you do it bi-weekly, then even if someone skips email it will be just 30 day gap. :)

And if someone is emailing good recommendations, movie/book reviews etc than why not get those emails every week. These days people need filters for content that is available online. We like it and we need it, it saves time and helps choosing. Authors can become tastemakers like that! ;)
 

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PamelaKelley said:
Ok, what I mean is lots of emails about personal stuff vs. occasional emails and with new release info.

As a reader, who is on a number of mailing lists, I am too busy to read daily or even weekly emails from authors chatting about personal stuff. I really just want to hear about their new book, maybe some behind the scenes info, a cover, and a buy link.

So, that's the expectation I set for my readers too when they sign up for my list. I'm not going to bother them with too many emails. It's just setting the expectation that is right for you. I'm not saying one way is better than another. Just doing what is right for me. If I want chatty, personal stuff, I'll go see their FB or Twitter feeds.
Me, too. I don't sign up for many "author newsletters" because of this. As far as interacting with readers goes, that's what social media is for, at least in my case. I talk to readers on facebook, twitter, Goodreads. WHen I talk to them there it's because they have decided to be on there at that time and talk. Sending a chatty email just really rubs me the wrong way.

This doesn't mean my way is right and you chatty senders are wrong. THere are all kinds of readers. I do what feels right to me, how I want to be treated as a reader. :)
 

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RBC said:
Absolutely. Weekly is normal for me personally. There is a lot of things going on. For average person, who gets less emails I don't think bi-weekly is frequent either. Just enough.
We'll have to agree to disagree on this one :) I have yet to enjoy an author newsletter more frequently than on a monthly basis, even authors I really like and want to keep abreast of. My inbox is just too cluttered, and the information from them is just too thin. One author who I was really interested in kept sending out bi-weekly emails full of info, but it wasn't info that I really found to be important or relevant. I find myself, more often than not, auto-deleting, then unsubscribing.

Of course, this is anecdotal to my own personal experiences and preferences, and not a scientific method at all, but for me, the sweet spot is once a month.
 

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Love the idea of calling a newsletter something different - Insider's Club or something else.

Beth, thanks for the link to the other thread! It's eye-opening to see how many subscribers you get by posting about your newsletter or mentioning little tidbits from it. I haven't put out a newsletter in over a year (mainly because I have no news; totally remedying that soon!), so my signups have been sloooow.

I was sending quarterly. I always got one or two unsubscribes when I did that, but like Beth, the new subscribers outweighed that. Seems like monthly is the same, so theoretically, that would grow lists quicker.
 

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You will always get unsubscribes whenever you sent out an email, so don't take it personally.
Whether you get more or less unsubs based on frequency is hard to pin down because the content of your newsletter makes a huge difference.

And welcome!
 

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bethrevis said:
We'll have to agree to disagree on this one :) I have yet to enjoy an author newsletter more frequently than on a monthly basis, even authors I really like and want to keep abreast of. My inbox is just too cluttered, and the information from them is just too thin. One author who I was really interested in kept sending out bi-weekly emails full of info, but it wasn't info that I really found to be important or relevant. I find myself, more often than not, auto-deleting, then unsubscribing.

Of course, this is anecdotal to my own personal experiences and preferences, and not a scientific method at all, but for me, the sweet spot is once a month.
Nothing to disagree on, for me it's not frequent, for you it is. You are not your readers. I'm not the readers either. It's best to test. We all got biases that may or may not match the audience. :)

As far as your preferences, analyse those where you don't unsub, no matter what. Just because you do something more-often-then-not, doesn't mean it can't work. Maybe those who you don't unsub from can give some good clues..

Anyhow, good discussion.
 

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RBC said:
What about middle option?

Occasional emails with some personal info (more like how writing is going, not how your family is doing etc). Occasional I mean bi-weekly in this case. :)

And as far as your fav authors go, are they doing a good job in their emails? Maybe they are boring? That's an interesting research. Maybe you can share. If they are doing something great, adopting it is an option. If they are doing something bad (not send frequency wise) that's a good thing to learn too.

Who has the best email newsletter of your followed authors? :)
I like MS Parker's newsletters the best. I guess this is purely a style thing....and as long as the reader knows what they are signing up for, it's all good. I like MS Parker's because it's short and sweet, here's the new book. That's really all I am interested in. Give me the link and I will one-click. :)
 
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