On Monday I sent out my second quarterly newsletter to everyone who signed up to receive it. I haven’t harvested email addresses; everyone had to click on a link and sign up with Tinyletter (a free service to manage newsletters), so the list is modest (but select). The process has been frustrating, and I wonder if anyone reads author newsletters?
I consider my subscribers to be my best supporters and want to give them value. I filled the first issue chock-full of what I hoped would be good stuff. I had a drawing for a free copy of Bad Policy (Gloria Alden won); I had an exclusive interview with Seamus McCree, main character in Bad Policy; I added an audio short story that featured Seamus and was published in the first Guppy anthology, Fish Tales.
I wanted to make it attractive and use colors and sidebars, but I couldn’t do that in Tinyletter. Instead, I created the newsletter in Word and converted it to a pdf file that people could read wherever they wanted. I copied the email address into my own address book and mailed the newsletter using one of my email accounts. Unfortunately, most spam filters decided all this rich material must constitute junk mail, meaning people had to dig it out of their junk or spam folders.
Not exactly ideal.
For the second newsletter, I initially decided to skip the fancy formatting, skip the pdf format and stick all the good stuff into one giant email. When I was all set, I sent a test email to myself—and it ended up in the junk bin!
I changed the email title—same result. I tried a tiny email without any links—went through no problem. Large email, no links—junk. Small email, one link—SUCCESS.
I ended up using Tinyletter to send a short email with a link to the newsletter as a pdf file download from my website. In the newsletter, I included information about life in general, past and future appearances and an exclusive interview with Seamus McCree’s son, Paddy, who plays a major role in Bad Policy and is also involved in the second in the series, Cabin Fever.
BTW, if you want the newsletter but didn’t sign up, send me an email at jmj [at] jamesmjackson [dot] com and I’ll get you this quarter’s newsletter and sign you up for future editions.
I am my own publicist, so creating the newsletter uses time I could spend writing (or reading). I’m interested in your guidance. Do you read author newsletters? What do you like best? What bores you? What else should I know to make mine better?
P.S. On the day of this blog, I am appearing along with Sasscer Hill and Agatha award winner Susan M. Boyer at the SC Book Festival in Columbia, South Carolina on a mystery panel moderated by Paula Benson.