|I was interviewed the other day in a writers’ workshop, and the topic was newsletters. I was asked how long I’ve been writing mine, and I answered three years. After the workshop, I went to check. And you know what? As of this month, it’s been FIVE YEARS. |
I was taught long ago that authors can’t just get by writing books. They need to create and sustain a following, be active both online and in person. There are countless ways to do this, and the reality is you can’t do everything. And although I’m moderately active on social media, I chose to fully commit to newsletters. So on the 13th of the month for the past sixty months, I’ve sent one out.
For those of you looking to create a newsletter for your business, I’d thought I’d use this newsletter to tell you what I’ve learned from the past five years of writing them.
You Have to Care
DO NOT write a newsletter because you think you have to. You have to want to write a newsletter, because only then will you put effort into it. You must possess the ego to assume people want to hear from you, and then it’s your job to figure out interesting things to say.
My newsletter goes out at 7am Mountain Time on the 13th of every month. EVERY MONTH (okay, once I skipped because I was in a totally shitty mood). My point is consistency matters. If you send three newsletters in one month and then another six months later, you’ll annoy people. Once a month is just fine.
Don’t spend the entirety of your newsletter just promoting your stuff. Be personal. Be human. Let your audience get to know you. And, above all else, be honest.
My newsletters all follow a particular format. They begin with my “main feature” article, the longest part of the newsletter. Then there’s any book news I have to announce along with upcoming event dates. After that, I review a book I’ve recently read and a show or movie I’ve watched. Then I have my tidbits: photo of the month, updates from my kids, pics of Guff (lots of pics of Guff), my event schedule, and latest episodes of Making It Up. Then I have my giveaway, which brings me to my next point.
Give Away Stuff
PR folks label this a “call to action.” Have your readers engage with you and reward that engagement. In my case, each month I feature Carter’s Tell-Me-A-Secret contest. Whatever you decide to do, make the newsletter an opportunity for readers to engage with you personally and win stuff that’s only available to subscribers.
Be Okay with People Unsubscribing Every Time You Send Something Out
Because they will. Damnit.
Make it Pretty
Make sure you know how to use MailChimp or whatever platform you’ve chosen. It’s not hard, but invest some time in video tutorials. Understand how to use graphics effectively, how to scale photos, view how the newsletter will appear on different phones and laptop screens, etc.
Send it Twice
Five days after you send it, send it again to those who didn’t open it (and change the subject line). Yes, some people will notice it twice, but you’ll get a good amount of fresh opens.
Get Folks to Sign Up
Don’t be shy about asking people to sign up for your newsletter, and let them know the benefits of doing so. Be creative–run sign-up contests on social media or reward your readers with referrals!
That’s pretty much it. It took me a while to figure things out and I received some great advice from my PR team. But in the end, just like my books, it’s about content. And your content is only as good as your passion to write it. If you choose to start writing and sending newsletters, be original, be vulnerable, be funny, provide value, and strive to make a real connection with your readers.
Write that first one, send it out, and then keep doing it forever.
|“Wilson turns the creep factor up to 11, balancing his prose on a knife’s edge. A highly satisfying high-tension thriller.”|
—Kirkus Reviews on Mister Tender’s Girl
|Making It Up|
Newly added episodes of my conversation series Making It Up are out!
This month I chatted with New York Times bestselling suspense author Clare Macintosh (The Last Party), acclaimed mystery writer Faye Snowden (A Killing Rain), writer, musician and actor Pip Drysdale (The Next Girl), and thriller writer James Byrne (The Gatekeeper).
All episodes are available on my YouTube channel and wherever you get your favorite podcasts. Check them out now here!
|October 8, 2022 12PM – 2PM|
Barnes & Noble
Lakewood, COOctober 11, 2022 5:30PM
Fort Morgan Public Library and Museum
Fort Morgan, COApril 29, 2023
Books and Brunch Scholarship Benefit
Make sure to check my calendar for the more up-to-date information. Also, if you’re interested in having me speak at your event or book club, please reach out to my PR team.
|What I’m Watching|
Halt and Catch Fire, (AMC 2104-17)
You all know I’m a sucker for any show based in my childhood years, so I’m currently devouring this fictionalized series about the early computer revolution of the 1980s. Yeah, yeah, I know, that sounds like a geekfest, but I recently saw an article saying Halt and Catch Fire was the best AMC series since Mad Men, and that’s what got me watching.
Is it as good as Mad Men? Well, no. The characters aren’t as nuanced and the storylines are a bit more basic. Still, this is a great show! Lee Pace is mesmerizing as morally dubious genius Joe MacMillan, who in turn is nicely balanced by anarchist/brilliant coder Cameron Howe (Mackenzie Davis). The show is less about the tech than it is about the drama and emotion associated with forging into any new frontier. There’s no shortage of obsessive gamers, brilliant visionaries, greedy venture capitalists, and self-destructive millionaires. Plus, for all you 80’s alternative-music junkies, the soundtrack is to die for. Plus, it’s “only” four seasons, so it’s not an overwhelming commitment. Strongly recommend.
|What I’m Listening To|
Chameleon: Scam Likely (Campside Media, 2022). I’ve been going down a bit of a rabbit hole with podcasts based on scams and fraud, and this one is particularly engaging. From the producer: “When a small team of government investigators learns that ordinary citizens all around the U.S. are losing their life savings to scam callers, they go on the hunt for the shadowy multinational mob behind the con.”
You ever get those fake calls from someone claiming to be with the IRS and they insist you owe back taxes? Yeah, this show is about these scumbags. It’s hard to believe people still fall for these scam calls, and it’s equally horrifying to see how much money they get taken for when they do. If you can get past the rage you’ll feel listening to this show, you’ll likely find it fascinating. Also, it will have you refusing to answer your phone ever again.
|Photo of the Month|
Welp, I made it 2.5 years COVID-free. That is, until the last week of August. Finally got the ‘rona after doing some traveling and attending events. I’m all vacc’ed and boosted, and the extent of my symptoms was a stuffy nose and sporadic cough. So I’m happy to report it was a non-event for me, but I’m bummed I can no longer be part of the rarefied COVID-free club.
|Update from My Kids|
My 19-year-old daughter has been wanting a tattoo for some time (and I always reminded her I was 38 before getting my first one.). But she finally did it! She and her friend got matching dragonfly tattoos on their arms (the dragonfly plays meaningfully in a shared experience they had as kids). So now my daughter is, yup, that’s right, The Girl With the Dragonfly Tattoo.
|Update from My Cat|
|Humor of the Month, sent to me by a friend |
click to follow link
|Book-Love Instagram Post of the Month|
|Thank you @coffee_cats_goodbooks!|
|That’s it for now! Until next month…|