Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Email Newsletters - What's Your Opinion?


Like many authors, I sporadically send an email newsletter out to subscribers. In it, I give news about upcoming releases and appearances, share other news such as book contracts and short story publications and great reviews, announce contest winners, and generally let my readers know what I've been up to lately.

Unlike many authors, I don't add colors or photos to my newsletter. I stick with plain black and white text and some active links, so for those readers with slow Internet connections, the newsletter loads quickly. I'm also quick to admit that I'm a dinosaur when it comes to learning new software packages. So, my newsletters don't contain fancy columns, type font changes, moving parts (such as dancing elves) or sound. And I try to keep them short, to no more than two pages in length when I draft them in Microsoft Word.

Also unlike many authors, I don't automatically subscribe friends and relatives, fellow authors and my Facebook and Goodreads friends. I'm a firm believer that doing so is spamming, and that people should explicitly have to "opt-in" to become a subscriber. That's why many of my relatives and close friends still don't receive it. They haven't asked for it. I use a service, Vertical Response, that keeps track of my subscriber database and allows people to opt-out every time they receive a newsletter--and usually a few do.

This brings me to the whole reason I wrote this post. I'm wondering if my readers feel the same way that I do about these email newsletter issues. Or, am I boring you with my plain Jane style? Would you rather have colors and photos and columns and fancy fonts? Are you insulted when you meet me at a conference or writing event and I don't automatically sign you up for my newsletter--or are you relieved? Should I send out my email newsletter more often, say once a month or once every two months instead of the four or so times a year that I do now (when I have something interesting to report)?

I'm really interested in hearing your opinions. Let me know what you think! And if you have suggestions for me on how to improve my email newsletter, please share them in the comments. Lastly, if you feel like you've been missing out and want to subscribe, go HERE. Thank-you!

9 comments:

Writer Pat Newcombe said...

I'm of the opinion that less is more. We are all busy people and personally I would rather not spend time sifting through pages, articles and fancy artwork. I am unimpressed by lots of colour ( and, in fact, if folks get it wrong, colours can make reading more difficult). However, this is only one person's opinion...
By the way, I feel the same about blog posts - long posts can be tedious and time consuming. I must say I like that your blog is succinct and easy to read and always interesting...

Beth Groundwater said...

Thanks, Pat, for your comment. I, too, am of the less is more mindset, but I was afraid that it might be hurting my image.

Mario said...

Great question. Newsletters that readers can opt into are worth the effort, providing the newsletters are interesting. Easier said than done.

Mike K. said...

My 2 cents - The best part is that you make your writings interesting and personal - it is obvious by your interactions that you care about your readers. I think this is much more important to your image than columns, color, or cute little icons, etc...

I really like simple but I love nice pictures. A reasonable option to me would be to email the basic newsletter with a link at the beginning to open it on your website or blog post with pictures. Anywhere from monthly to the quarterly is OK.

Beth Groundwater said...

Thanks, Mike, for letting me know you enjoy photos. Of the requests for additions I'm getting, that's the most frequent, so I'll have to look into adding some.

Kath said...

I very much appreciate simplicity. And your consideration for your readers about opting in.

Christine Goff said...

I like pictures -- not a ton, but just enough to add some color. I think simple fonts are the best, and not a lot of different fonts. That just makes things look busy. As far as opting everyone in -- I think the first time you send a newsletter, you can make sure they know they can opt out, in which case you can opt everyone in. If they like you in Facebook, or send you things, they've essentially shown interest or consider themselves a friend. I'm on a ton of newsletter lists, too, and if I don't have time to read them, I hit delete. Sometimes I skim. I'd rather be opted in and have the chance to get the info vs. opting out and being out of the loop. Basic PR says get your name out there, over and over and over. What you never want to be is the person who posts some BSP on lists every single day, day in day out, regardless of the comments. There are a few people whose books I will never read because of that! You do a gret job of getting the info out, but I think you could do a bi-monthly with some nice photos and/or contests that pertain to the books.

Beth Groundwater said...

Thanks so much, Chris, for your thoughtful comments! I think I'll be making some changes as a result.

mollie bryan said...

I've just started a newsletter. My publisher thought it would be a good idea. I've sent out two so far. I've joined several other author's newsletters and regretted it because it the letters would come several times a week. I'm keeping mine simple and once a month or so.