Review in Practice: Newsletters – Bonuses & Reader Magnets, Frequency and Auto-Responders

One aspect of book marketing I’ve been delving into is newsletters, or reader’s groups, if you prefer. It sounds a lot better to say, “Join my Reader’s Group” than it does to say, Subscribe to my Newsletter”. This is a suggestion that Andrea Pearson of the Six Figure Author Podcast offers, and I like it. Andrea Pearson is like the newsletter queen, marketing her own books through her newsletter successfully and teaching others how to do the same. She offers courses on Newsletter marketing among others through her website, and I’ve been fortunate enough to have taken the basic course, and I also have her Publish Strong box set. You can read my “Review in Practice” for that set here.

Other things that Andrea recommends is emailing frequently, like once a week, and I believe Kevin J. Anderson also follows this practice. To me this sounds like a lot. I feel like I would have to really like an author to not be annoyed to receive emails that frequently from them. After signing up for KJAs newsletter and receiving his auto-sequence, I found that it was kind of cool, and because some of them included newsletter bonuses of free books, I didn’t mind receiving those frequent emails at all.

But, let’s face it. We’re all not as prolific as KJA, or even as prolific as Andrea Pearson. Especially if you’re just starting out, you may be lucky if you can produce a book a year. I realized a while back that I wasn’t prolific and wrote a post about that here. Just as you need a hook for your stories to make readers want to read more, you also need a sales hook in your newsletter to make them want to read other things which you’ve written so you can grow your fanbase and email list. If you don’t write fast enough to produce several books a year, and if you don’t have a big backlist to draw from, don’t overlook the value of a good short story. While it’s true that short fiction is tougher to sell than novels, when it comes to newsletter magnets, short fiction can be an author’s friend.

In order to better understand how to make a newsletter work for me, I’ve subscribed to the newsletters of several big name authors to see how they set up their reader magnets and auto-sequences.

The Case of the Vanishing Boy is a short mystery story by Kristine Kathryn Rush that I received for free for signing up for the WMG Grab a Book and Chill newsletter; what indie authors call a reader magnet, designed to draw in new readers. ‘They’ say short fiction is harder to sell, whether we’re talking single stories, collections or anthologies. As a creator of anthologies, I believe ‘they’ are right. But short fiction can be great to use for newsletter bonuses, and/or reader magnets. This little mystery story was just the right length for me to enjoy and to made me feel as if I’d received a good value in exchange for my email address

Kristine Kathryn Rusch and her husband Dean Wesley Smith are both hybrid authors who have been in this business for many years and are both masters of short fiction, so receiving this story really was a treat. It was a fun mystery that could be read in one sitting. It’s hard not to give away spoilers on short stories, and for mysteries, spoilers could mean death. So instead of giving the whole brief plot away, let me just say that it was a fun mystery that could be read in one sitting. It was well-written and entertaining, stirring up questions throughout and providing a satisfying ending, just as a mystery story should.

A much darker read is He Meant No Harm, by Dean Wesley Smith, which serves as a second reader magnet for the WMG Grab a Book and Chill newsletter. I guess they figure at least one of the two books will appeal to you. Again, I’m not obligated to review, but did enjoy this brief trip down memory lane with the protagonist, although it left me walking away with a very different feeling from the one I had after reading the Rusch story, so perhaps they are onto something by offering two very different stories. This story was very brief, so my complaint here was that I was disappointed that there wasn’t more to it, (but that might just be me). It did have a full story arc, I just would have liked to have a bit more before it ended, so I guess I felt a little cheated.

I can’t say that about the reader magnet for the WMG Newsletter, The Rusch Reader: A Newsletter Exclusive, however. Just the opposite in fact. This collection of short fiction provides a delectable sampling from Kristine Katherine Rusch’s various short fiction series and spans across her genres, of which there are many, written under various pen names, as well as her own. The Rusch Reader is a book length collection of short fiction, all well-written and entertaining, all quite enjoyable to read, some which were downright memorable. And when you read as much short fiction as I do, that’s saying a lot. But the thing that adds the most value for me was the last sample book, which wasn’t a story at all, but a short non-fiction book on how to negotiate, which is invaluable for authors everywhere. Signing up for the newsletter is the only way you can acquire this fantastic collection, a sampling that may turn you into a die-hard Rusch reader, you must subscribe to Kristine Katherine Rusch’s newsletter, which makes it a great reader magnet and well worth giving up my email address.

For signing up for the Kevin J. Anderson reader group, I received a copy of one of his Dan Shamble Novels, Working Stiff, which I had previously read and reviewed in his Zomnibus. (You can read my review here.) His Dan Shamble books are always entertaining and fun to read, so this is an excellent choice for a reader magnate. Although it is not typical of his science fiction or fantasy series, but it is a way to get readers to take a look at what else he has available.

His second email in his auto sequence delivers a link to listen to his Clockwork Lives audiobook for free, which is pretty cool and making me feel even more value delivered.

His second email in his auto sequence delivers a link to listen to an audio reading by KJA of “The Percussor’s Tale” from the Clockwork Lives steampunk novel, written with Rush drummer Neil Peart, for free. This is pretty cool and making me feel even more value delivered.

The fifth email in his auto-responder offers another free book, The Kevin J. Anderson Complete Booklist and Reader’s Guide. What a clever way to make things easy for his readers. I’m impressed.

The sixth offers another free ebook, Blindfold. Which all leads into an offer to join his “KJA Special Forces” street team in the eighth email to be delivered over a month’s time from when I subscribed.

Previously, I had let my newsletter fall to the wayside for more than a year, but this research endeavor has convinced me that my Newsletter is one of my most valuable marketing tools. The subscribers are added to your email list, providing you with a direct way to engage with your readers, and you own that, not some third party middleman.

When I went back into my Mailchimp account, I found that they’d made a lot of changes and I had difficulty finding my way around and locating my past newsletter campaigns. I have since revived my newsletter, but I’m still struggling to figure out the auto-responder and other technological stuff. I’ll get it eventually. For now, I’m emailing monthly and figuring it all out as I go. I’ve managed to change my reader magnet, so when you join, you receive a free copy of my short story collection, Last Call & Other Short Fiction, and set up a Book Funnel link to deliver it, (I think – If you decide to join, I’d appreciate feedback to let me know if it is working properly).

My subscribers are not growing very fast, but I figure that will come in time, too. Different genre books target different reading audiences, so it’s more difficult to market as a multi-genre author, but with time, I’ll figure that one out, too. My newsletter journey is just beginning. If you’d like to join my new reader’s group to receive updates on new releases from WordCrafter Press, myself and others, as well as upcoming writing events, you can join here: https://mailchi.mp/64aa2261e702/klb-wc-newsletter. You’ll receive a copy of my short story collection just for joining. I do hope you’ll all come along for the ride.

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For Kaye Lynne Booth, writing is a passion. Kaye Lynne is an author with published short fiction and poetry, both online and in print, including her short story collection, Last Call and Other Short Fiction; and her paranormal mystery novella, Hidden Secrets. Kaye holds a dual M.F.A. degree in Creative Writing with emphasis in genre fiction and screenwriting, and an M.A. in publishing. Kaye Lynne is the founder of WordCrafter Quality Writing & Author Services and WordCrafter Press. She also maintains an authors’ blog and website, Writing to be Read, where she publishes content of interest in the literary world.

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Join Kaye Lynne Booth & WordCrafter Press Readers’ Group for WordCrafter Press book & event news, including the awesome releases of author Kaye Lynne Booth. Get a free digital copy of her short story collection, Last Call and Other Short Fiction, as a sampling of her works just for joining.


5 Comments on “Review in Practice: Newsletters – Bonuses & Reader Magnets, Frequency and Auto-Responders”

  1. Leon Stevens says:

    Newsletters are a craft in themselves. They have to be an extension of how we entertain our readers and not just a selling tool.

    Like

  2. So very true, Leon. They must be entertaining, as well as offering value for our readers. There is a fine balance to keep readers coming back.

    Like

  3. Hi Kaye, the thought of newsletters just makes me feel tired. I have not gone there, despite being continuously encouraged to do so, because it feels like another task and not one I’d particularly enjoy. I will read about your journey with newsletters and see if it convinces me to take the plunge.

    Liked by 1 person


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