Wednesday, April 17, 2019

more on mailing lists, and lack of news

I've puzzled this one and read and re-read but I must be missing something. In your post "Yes, you need a mailing list, even if you're not pubbed" you start by saying: I can hear you screaming (politely of course, woodland creature that you are) "I don't have anything to talk about in a newsletter!"

I'm very politely screaming because I still have no idea what to say in a newsletter. The example you give is "sign up to hear about my next published story" or "when you have news like a short story being pubbed in a small magazine". I'm not pubbed in any way, shape or form (yet!). I looked to the comments for an answer, but Reef readers only mention short stories and publications as well (the Reef is full of very talented writers).

So if I am not published and have no short stories, what would I put into a newsletter?

This is such a good question because it showed me I wasn't really clear.
(That's my fault by the way.
It's incumbent about the speaker/writer to be clear, not the listener/reader to suss out what's being conveyed.)

So, let me take another whack at this.

You can have a mailing list without having a newsletter.

You can have people sign up for news (that you will have in the future!) even if you don't have news now.

And if you feel like this isn't the right time to embark on setting up a mailing list, RESPECT YOUR HESITATION!! I'm writing for a general audience here, not you specifically.

Understand the difference between "I don't wanna" and "I don't know how" and "I don't think this is right for me YET."

The third reason is the ONLY reason I will not bop you over the head for failure to heed my incredibly wise, astute, amazing, productive and generally all-around perfect advice (my Thesaurus was feeling neglected after I bought a new dictionary so I had to give her a little work out this morning.)

Spiffy new dictionary


Theresa said...

I remembered this advice when I gave a talk about Dale Evans last month to a group of about 90 people. I explained my book wasn't out yet, but whoever would like to be notified could put their email address on some paper I passed around. I'm keeping that list of 30 or so names separate from my other email list. These new people will get one notification about the book's publication, along with an invitation to sign up for the regular newsletter. I haven't started that newsletter yet, but will when I think the time is right.

Aphra Pell said...

I don't want to get bopped on the head, so I did take Janet's wise, astute, amazing, productive and generally all-around perfect advice and set up a mailing list. The sign-up is on the homepage of if anyone wants to receive a hypothetical future newsletter, the odd short story, or quite probably pictures of small furry animals.

And totally OT but on the subject of small furry animals - if you use twitter, search for "potoroo" and watch a tiny potoroolet eating a berry while sitting in his Mum's pouch. Your day will be improved by at least 87.639%.

Valerie said...

I think news letters can have other info as well as pub notifications. I get Gail Carriger's monthly nl and she throws in all kinds of stuff. Granted, she has lots of publications, but she also talks about recent trips she's taken, her cat, TV shows she likes, books she recommends. If you don't have an actual publication to announce, you could talk about your writing project and give a monthly update on its progress. I think the point is to get people interested in you, then they'll be more interested in your work when it comes out.

Brenda said...

Hence my ongoing struggle trying to link Mailchimp to my twitter account. Sigh.

Jennifer R. Donohue said...

The thing about a newsletter is you can get it going now, tweak it, etc. without telling anybody about it until you think the time is right. Nobody needs to know that you're practicing with tinyletter sending memes and quotes to yourself to make sure things format correctly.

If one were to do such a thing, it might familiarize them with the weird coding stuff that Tinyletter and only Tinyletter seems to use and then you might avoid just jumping in with both feet and sending a newsletter that says "hello|USER:NAME|" As it turns out, there are asterisks or something and they are important. Maybe I'll get it right the next time I have news! Oh yeah, me. I was talking about me, and what I should've done. Don't be me.

Craig F said...

Well, hell, you could always discuss Fred Eaglesmith. Everyone wants an answer to that burning question of when, exactly, we all became white trash.

Jennifer Mugrage said...

Jennifer Donohue: I enjoyed your newsletter anyway.

Melanie Sue Bowles said...

I used to have a newsletter. It went out to several hundred people with news about the sanctuary and my books. But then, Facebook. I sent everyone to my FB page and stopped the newsletter.

Now I'm working on a fourth book (nonfiction) about the sanctuary. I thought about reviving the newsletter, I still have the mailing list, but then decided: nope.

Here's why - newsletters generate email. After each one went out I would wake up the following day to dozens of emails from followers with various questions or comments that require a response. I can't deal with it, time wise.

The format of FB allows people to interact with me in a way that doesn't suck the life out of me. I just posted a gut-wrenching rescue of an abused mare - she's safe at the sanctuary, the photos are graphic, don't look if you're sensitive - the post has received 100s of comments. But I don't have to email/acknowledge 100s of people.

Steve Forti said...

While I may not have sent anything out yet, I used that post as the kick in the pants to set up my own mailing list. I had been thinking along the lines of "I've got nothing to say at the moment" in an email, but it clicked with me to have this to be ready for "when I have something new to say". Plus, it feels damn good and motivating to see people sign up for it. Even if only a handful :)

julie.weathers said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Steve Forti said...

Hoping this works. Helping Melanie out with sharing a link she feels would be good to share related to this topic: 8 Reasons to Start an Author Blog

Katja said...

OP, I feel for you. I too struggle with that mailing list thingie. And I even STILL struggle despite seeming to have quite some news. I lack the confidence and belief that people want to know what I'm up to. Particularly if they don't specifically ask me.

It makes me feel as if I'd be standing on a box in the middle of town, shouting my news out to people who pass by. And since my father told me I'd have too much liking for attention, I experience additional shame. Oh well, should I flush this down the toilet, somehow...?

I haven't mentioned here, on this terrific blog, amongst these fantastic fellow writers, how excited I am that I've been invited to a book fair here in Shakespeare-land to present my book. I mean, that would be like standing on a market place shouting. Oops.

I have other little news and could maybe do newsletters... but I'd always have the feeling I bother other people.

Twitter has helped me a little with this, so maybe I'll try a mailing list one day.

Jennifer Mugrage said...

Katja ... I know how you feel. And congratulations, that's very exciting!

Morgan Hazelwood said...

I feel so hypocritical. I'm all about the RSS feeds and HATE email.

But, I have to remind myself, just because this is how *I* prefer to receive content, doesn't mean that's how OTHER people prefer to receive content. And I do follow a lot of feeds, so sometimes I miss news.

So, I set up *my* newsletter that has OPTIONS. You can just get the email on that fateful, future date in which I might have my own novel (or short story) published. Or, you can get general updates. Or you can get the weekly round up of my blogposts. Or you can sign up for all of these.

julie.weathers said...

First, forgive my previous post. It was totally uncivil. Like pointing out someone didn't use Duke's mayonnaise when they invited you to their barbecue.

I have the crew in today installing cabinets. They aren't necessarily a Loretto staircase crew, but they're my crew and the cabinets are going up. It's a sight better than having cabinets in every nook and cranny in the house.

@Deleyna on twitter taught the web design course I took greatly against my wishes. I am so glad she dragged me kicking and screaming into it. I'm still working on my site, but I like it, I know how to use it, and I'm not afraid of it. I'm really looking forward to adding new content and building up followers to play with new things. I'll be adding interviews and podcasts as well as experimenting with historic recipes and showing the results. Plus, I'll be adding book reviews as a more regular feature and the main focus of the blog will be, I hope, interesting bits and bobs about the Civil War mixed in with a bit of random rambling.

It helps to be enthused about creating content if you like your nest.

Deleyna was going to teach another web design course this month, but so many people were asking questions about social media, mailing lists, etc. in the previous one, she decided to do a course on that, Crazy Easy Social Media for Authors.

She absolutely drilled it into our heads during the web design course how important it was to start building our mailing lists and contacts now.

Deleyna deals with marketing and social media. This isn't just advice from an agent, though that should be enough.

Whether we like social media or not, I don't particularly, it's part of our professional lives. When life gives you a stick beat something into submission with it or something.

Katja, congratulations. That is awesome news.

Brenda said...

The @Deleyna I found doesn’t advertise a course. Julie, could you double check the address please.

julie.weathers said...


I'm sorry. I didn't want to advertise here on Janet's site. She goes through Margie Lawson.

Margie was in Denver presenting the same year Janet was. I think she talked about body language. She's a psychologist and studies facial cues and body language a lot, so she teaches that to authors. For instance, how to go a lot deeper than just a smile. Make your words and expressions work.

Anyway, I'm totally derailed, but you can find Deleyna through Margie and Janet and Deleyna are both right, the time to start the mailing list and social media is now, not after you sell a book.

Brenda said...


Beth Carpenter said...

Katja - that is exciting! Congratulations!

LynnRodz said...

I wrote the first draft to my now almost finished MS years ago. (I hate to say how many, but life sometimes gets in the way.) Anyway, back then when I read my poems on open mike nights I had to say a few words about myself, so I talked about my novel. There are a lot of Francophiles out there and several mentioned, "Well, let me know when it comes out." and that's how my list was born.

Others can also be helpful. Hubby is asked quite often, "What does your wife do?" and he tells them briefly that I'm writing a book, it takes place in Paris, etc., and the response is always the same, "Let me know when it comes out."

I guess it helps that people from around the world come to Paris and they love Paris and your story takes place in Paris...and so you end up with a substantial list of names.

LynnRodz said...

Katja, congrats!

Katja said...

Thank you Beth and Lynn!! Thanks so much :).

AJ Blythe said...

OP here, very late. I seem to be all behind these days, in more ways than one ;)

Thanks for clearing that up, Janet. I will start looking into how I do a newsletter. I've added MailChimp plugin to my website (I think) but will have to learn how to use it first. Then I'll plug my newsletter at the Reef as I doubt there will be anyone else interested at the moment.

AphraPell, I've just subscribed to your newsletter.

Katja, congratulations!! Good luck if your presentation is still to come, or hope it went well if it has passed.

Jennifer Mugrage said...

Hi. I'm just here to rant.

I just read the following on another blog: most publishers won't even LOOK at your concept unless your marketing is up to snuff ... You MUST have a newsletter even if you have no book-related news ... You can include personal stuff like pet pictures, family holiday news, rants about your publishing journey, and recipes!


My hamster wheel is spinning.

I like recipes as much as the next person, but ... I wrote post-apocalyptic fantasy.

The kind of newsletter that I find most annoying is the one that promises writing or publishing advice and then makes me scroll past a bunch of family pictures, vacation news, and name dropping to get to it.

I've no idea why I would take a bunch of loyal would-be fantasy readers and alienate them with this stuff.

But, I've obviously got the ranting part down pat.

So, I am starting a monthly newsletter called "Recipes and Rants." Anyone want to sign up?