Wherever writers look for advice on the marketing side of writing, the one constant is ‘build an email list’. Without an email list, you have nothing – no fans, no loyalty, no sales. If we do nothing else, we are told, the one thing we absolutely must do is collect email addresses.
For the longest time, I resisted jumping on the newsletter bandwagon, mainly because I didn’t think I had anything worthwhile to offer people in exchange for their precious email address.
Working through B-School, and doing a lot of reading on ‘author newsletters’, I found there are basically two types – the ones that read like letters you’d get from a friend or fun relative, and the ones which are aimed at customers/readers.
To be honest, the first one – the friendly letter – would only be of interest to fans who want to know more about you, personally, and your upcoming books.
The second one… now that’s the type authors are advised to use; the type that focuses more on marketing than anything else.
So, after much research and thought, I finally caved. I wrote a brand-new story as the ‘opt-in’ (or offer) in exchange for email addresses. I even ran a FB ad featuring the opt-in. What I found was my FB page was getting followers, but none of them was signing up for the newsletter.
I couldn’t figure out what I was doing wrong. So, I had another search around the internet; all I found was annoyance. With all the advice roiling about on the internet, I couldn’t find a thing about what to do if it didn’t work. Every single article would either have the one line of ‘grow your email list’ or whole sections on how to grow the list, but nothing on how to fix it if it’s not working.
I’m sure there are those who’d say my story wasn’t good enough, and maybe it wasn’t, but I refused to go down that rabbit hole and wallow.
Instead, I concluded that what I’m rubbish at is marketing.
As a consumer, any hint of aggressive marketing puts me right off. So, I’m hardly going to use similar tactics on my potential consumers/readers.
A lot of the marketing advice points to using pop-up or lightbox subscription boxes. You know the ones – they literally pop-up when you’re visiting a website, usually when you’re just about to click away. All the research says it’s one of the best ways to get subscribers; those who use them report an increase in subscribers.
Personally, I can’t stand them; they’re annoying as heck! Especially those that pop-up when I’m in the middle of reading an article. I hate being interrupted when I’m reading.
Now, I’m not saying pop-ups or any other subscription method is a bad thing; they obviously work. But it’s not for me. That’s the other thing that annoys – the ‘one size fits all’ mentality. I hated that idea when it came to the boys’ schooling, and I’m hardly going to embrace it now.
It took me some time to realise that all those articles on ‘how to get thousands of subscribers’ are all to do with non-fiction; what’s on offer is knowledge and that's what people want.
I’ve read articles arguing that what’s out there for non-fiction writers is perfectly usable for fiction writers. However, not everyone has ‘saleable’ experience/abilities or knowledge. Anyway, I digress…
I decided I was done with the whole newsletter thing. It was taking up too much time and effort with nothing much to show for it. What I minded most – it was distracting me from my actual writing.
I will be forever grateful to those who did sign up for the newsletter and apologise for pulling the plug on it.
Of course, it’s possible to do both – have a newsletter and a blog; many writers do – but I much prefer blogging. It’s another form of regular writing for me, and it gives me the chance to indulge my interests.
Also, it’s where I put news of what’s happening with my writing, and on my FB page too. If anyone’s interested, they know where to find the latest news – it’s their choice.
I don’t know how many people actually read my posts… Once upon a time, it bothered me that hardly anyone commented; that after all these years, I don’t have many ‘followers’…
Now, with everything else that’s happening in my life, I’m ok with it. I’ll carry on blogging, carry on writing. Hopefully, people will like my stories enough to buy my books. If they don’t, that’s ok too.
At the end of the day, this is one thing I will not have any regrets about. I want to write and publish my stories and that is what I am doing.