September 1, 2016

Self Publishing? What’s Your Newsletter Plan? — Part Two

Stick figure at a chalkboard with text: What's Your Newsletter Plan?

It’s time once again for my monthly guest post over at Janice Hardy’s Fiction University. We’ve been exploring the choices for what path we want to follow in our indie publishing career, and today, we’re continuing to dig deeper into how to implement our chosen path.

My series about Indie Publishing Paths at Fiction University has highlighted some of the choices we have to make and given us a few guidelines.

We first discussed how we need to know our goals because that will help us make the best decisions for us and adapt as the industry changes. Depending on our priorities, we might make different choices for distribution, release schedules, or pricing, which I focused on in the first segment of the series, calling them the where, when, and how much of our decision process.

The second segment of my series focused on how to keep our readers after they finish our book:

We’re currently exploring the specifics of one of the options mentioned in Part One of the Reader Retention Plan above, which is to communicate with our readers via a newsletter.

Janice Hardy's Fiction University banner

Last time we covered why newsletters are such an important tool for holding onto our readers as well as what “best practices” we should follow. The number one best practice is to ensure that we have permission to contact those on our list.

The reason newsletters are so powerful is because our subscriber list is made up of readers eager to hear from us. If we add people without permission, we become spammers, and we probably all know how quickly the spam in our inbox gets deleted. *smile* Bye, bye, powerful tool.

However, as long as everyone on our list wants to be a subscriber, we still have a choice of how to grow our list. Do we want to go for quantity or quality?

(Unlike other areas of real life, there’s nothing wrong with focusing on quantity. This is a question of philosophy—not professionalism.)

In this month’s post at Fiction University, I’m digging into the pros and cons of those two philosophies:

  • Why might we choose one approach over another?
  • How does our philosophy affect how we might grow our list?
  • What drawbacks do we have to watch out for with each approach?

Of course, we could also aim for a middle-of-the-road approach, taking the best of those two philosophies. In my Fiction University post, I share ideas for how to grow our newsletter with a mixed philosophy as well.

For example, while I usually focus on a quality approach, I have participated in one large quantity-style promotion to gain subscribers. But after the giveaway ended, I sent a newsletter to those freebie-seekers, reminding them to unsubscribe if they weren’t interested in my stories. Yes, really. *smile*

(Note that I use the MailPoet WordPress plugin instead of a newsletter provider. To a provider like MailChimp, many unsubscribes all at once risks our account looking like a spammer, so be careful with that tactic.)

My goal was to take the best discoverability benefits of the quantity approach and then trim my list to focus on quality subscribers. Over two-thirds of those giveaway seekers have remained on my list, so I’d call it a success, but some of the other ideas in my post might be better for avoiding the “spammer label” risk. *smile*

I hope you’ll join me at Fiction University for this month’s post!

If you have a newsletter signup, have you aimed for quantity or quality (or both)? Why did you choose that approach? Does your philosophy match your goals of discoverability (quantity) or engagement (quality)? Do you have insights into other pros and cons for our options?

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Comments — What do you think?

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Clare O'Beara

I’ve got a newsletter list which is short at present so I don’t waste too much energy on it.
I don’t want to get newsletters that are nothing but ads. I especially don’t want to get these every day or week. Those kinds of authors get zapped from my inbox because they really are not doing anything but waste my time.
I don’t want a newsletter that constantly seeks to drive all traffic to the author’s Facebook page. I do not use Facebook. Get a website. Zap.


Jami, can I ask, what made you choose the Word Press plug in instead of MailChimp or one of its competitors? How is it working for you?

I am looking ahead to starting my own list. ?

Clare O'Beara

We use MailChimp. My husband is the webmaster. I would recommend sending yourself the newsletter before distributing to the mailing list. This way you can catch any irregularities. Like, if it still shows text saying ‘address block here’ or ‘this is the header’.
And test all links at this point too!

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