Newsletter Tips for Authors
You’ve all seen them–those newsletters that do nothing besides hawk the author’s books. Yuck! BOR-ING! And the more often they’re sent, the more boring they are, usually earning an automated spot in your spam folder. Repetition has a place in advertising and promotion, but there are limits. Think about it: How do you react to such emails?
On the other hand, there are some newsletters I look forward to. Why? Because their content is engaging–interesting articles, recommendations for other books, games, giveaways, and sometimes a contest. I love it when I learn something from a newsletter, whether its strictly a new factoid or get to know the author on a more personal basis. I know what their books are and have probably read them, or they’re on my TBR list. If there’s a new one out, great! But I don’t need to be reminded of your one and only book and assumed claim to fame on a daily basis.
Okay, I’ll admit it, like most authors, it took me a while to figure this out. But when I put myself in the recipient’s place, it was what we physicists like to say, “intuitively obvious”. I’ve been told in book promotion classes that a newsletter is one of the most effective ways to connect with fans and potential readers. One thing I’ve discovered is that it’s a great place to stage giveaways. I’ve done those on the public forums, where you don’t know the winner from Adam, which is undoubtedly mutual, and more than likely your book will wind up on eBay. Well, good luck with that, right? If we have trouble selling our books, the likelihood of them succeeding is pretty laughable. More than likely it’s never read and I sincerely doubt I’ve ever garnered a review from one.
However, when I conduct a giveaway via my newsletter it’s greeted by enthusiasm, appreciation, and often a review. It gives me an opportunity to connect with those names on my distribution list, learn more about them, and what they like. I’ve made my giveaways a bit of a challenge by associating it with a contest. Since I write hard science fiction and believe my best fans are geeks like myself, I ask questions that only a geek is likely to know. This way they know I’m genuine and “a member of the club”, so to speak. The picture shows one of them, the object of which was to translate into plain English what it said on my shirt.
Building your newsletter distribution list can be a challenge. There are various gimmicks, some of which work, others that don’t. It usually takes some sort of lure, like a free download, and there are places that help with this. VoraciousReadersOnly.com is one, and RachelBranton.com is another who conducts “reader magnet” giveaways where readers sign up for your newsletter to receive a free download.
These can be annoying because, quite frankly, there are so many leaches out there who just want something for free, and as soon as they get what they want they unsubscribe. I’ve noticed every time I send out a newsletter about 10% unsubscribe. However, I must admit, that many don’t, and I’ve found some awesome fans that way. I’ve had slightly better luck with VoraciousReadersOnly since they are supposed to leave a review and the sponsor will actually nudge them to do so and exclude them from future giveaways if they have a bad history of noncompliance. Keep your expectations fairly low and you’ll probably be pleased. You can’t please all the people all the time.
I can’t say my newsletter has sold a lot of books. However, it has collected some fans and friends. I haven’t had a new release for a while, so the real test will be when that happens and if it’s met with an enthusiastic preorder or a giant yawn. I’ll let you know how that turns out….
Marcha Fox is an avid science fiction fan and author with over 20 years’ experience in positions ranging from technical writer to engineer to manager at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. She earned a Bachelor’s Degree in physics, which was but a prelude to her interest in the unexplained mysteries of the cosmos. Inspired by science fiction to pursue a career in a technical field, she hopes to instill the same fascination in young readers, while providing older ones with classic hard science fiction.
Born in Peekskill, New York she has lived in California, Utah and Texas in the course of raising her family, which included fifteen years as a stay-at-home mom before returning to college in her 30s to obtain her degree, a feat accomplished while she still had six children at home. All are now grown with children of their own providing her with 17 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren so far. Never at a loss for something to do, besides writing she’ a professional astrologer who enjoys gardening, her two Bengal cats and a sassy tuxedo, and keeping up with family.
THE TERRA DEBACLE: PRISONERS AT AREA 51
Blurb: Thyron is a flora peda telepathis (telepathic walking plant) from the planet Sapphira on an adventure gone terribly wrong. The bad decision of a human girl and her maniacal robot companion has stranded them on Earth, where his botanical cousins face horrible fates such as consumption by herbivores, incineration, and brutal annihilation for use as building material.
Following capture, Thyron is transported to Area 51, where NASA exobiologist, Gabe Greenley, studies his every move, ecstatic with the opportunity to examine an entirely new lifeform. In due course, the scientist makes a ground-breaking discovery, distressed by the fact he can never share it due to his security oaths and research agreement. Eventually, he’s confronted by an even worse ethical dilemma that forces him to make a treasonous and potentially deadly decision.
Will Thyron’s psychic powers be enough to save him? Is Greenley friend or foe? Or does the exobiologist have a few secrets of his own?
Find out in this unique combination of hard science fiction, suspense, and a touch of humor populated with memorable characters in a setting loaded with intrigue. Unexpected plot twists coupled with a unique ending make this an unforgettable tale whether you’re a science fiction fan, botanist, UFO aficionado, or simply enjoy a good story.