Do I have to have a newsletter?

It’s May Marketing Month on #RWChat. Check out the first installment by Alexis Daria: 5 Things to Include On Your Author Website If You’re Not Yet Published.

I’ve avoided starting a newsletter for over a year now. It’s become a spectre haunting me: Start the email list… it’s your number one marketing tool… everyone says do it… you won’t sell books without it… 

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And all that pressure makes it worse.

I’ve heard from countless sources that better than social media, better than blog tours, or even paid advertising, the best way to sell books is with a newsletter. Because it’s something you can control with direct access to people who are specifically fans of your work.

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That’s what we all want. A fan club. With social media access and algorithms constantly changing, the place we can have total control of our marketing is on our websites and our email lists.

I’ve read so many accounts of authors who do it well, who’ve amassed lists in the tens of thousands of subscribers. And I wouldn’t be surprised if there are some hitting six digits.

But what I want to know is how do you get the first one hundred or even the first ten subscribers?

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Begging people seems like the worst way to do it.

Alexis Daria and I have been putting this off for months now–even though we know we just need to bite the bullet and sign up. My big excuse was that I didn’t have a P.O. Box. You have to have a physical address to use list services like Mailchimp. Using your home address is, for obvious reasons, a non-option.

But I discovered a month ago that my local P.O. Box is totally affordable. And Alexis Daria discovered some authors use their agent’s office address. Our last legitimate excuse has been foiled. So why am I still all…

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Because the truth is, thanks to all of you wonderful people, I have had a great newsletter experience — with #RWChat. Our newsletter is doing great. I’m really enjoying it. Seeing the numbers go up every week, knowing that so many are as passionate about this credo of “romance writers should chat” that Kimberly Bell and C.L. Polk founded, is a thrill.

Our open rate is around 35% most weeks, which compared to the Mailchimp reported average rate for publishing at 22%, it’s awesome. Our unsubscribe rate is like… zero. You all inviting us into your inboxes is really wonderful.

 disney aww snow white aw shy GIFPerhaps it’s this success rate that has me scared to start my own newsletter. I know I’m unlikely to get such good numbers from my own list someday. #RWChat provides a service that you all love, far different from a “my new book is out!” email campaign.

But then I think about why I subscribe to my favorite author newsletters. I love getting that personalized announcement that their new book has released or is on sale. It makes me feel like a part of a special club. In fact, if as a super fan I didn’t get that announcement, I’d be pretty upset. I’m devoted! I should be the first to know!

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So perhaps this is what I can hope for and use as courage to get a newsletter going. I’ve heard many authors say that the best way to get subscribers is to offer a free book. I’ve read other accounts of people who disagree with this strategy. Offering something for free gets signups for one email and after that a ton of unsubscribes.

Whether this is true or not and what kind of tactics other authors use to get subscribers, I’ll be paying close attention to during our chat on Sunday. But what I do know is, I want quality fans who love romance novels with lots of feels, a heavy dose of dark, and a big helping of hot sex.

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Now I just need the magic recipe to find them. Hopefully the main ingredient is just writing great books. That’s the part I’m good at.

Lovett headshot touchupRobin Lovett’s dark romance series releases through SMP Swerve, starting with STRANGER, A DARK STALKER ROMANCE on June 13th. She is a co-host of #RWChat, where you can check out her weekly posts. She writes a monthly romance writing column on DIY MFA and can be happily reached on Twitter @LovettRomance, so don’t be shy! Discussion welcome 🙂 She is represented by Rachel Brooks of the L. Perkins agency.

4 thoughts on “Do I have to have a newsletter?

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