Writing

Newsletter, Anyone?

After years of knowing I need to, I’m finally going to force myself to set up an author newsletter. I hear it’s the number one thing for a professional author to do, but I’ve just put it off time and again for two reasons:

1. I’m completely and totally overwhelmed at the idea. I don’t like doing new things in general, and I’m unfortunately easily overwhelmed, and too often I let that stop me from doing things that would be beneficial. Just the thought of setting it all up, designing and writing it, and pulling together a mailing list has got me scared. But I need to do it like I have every other accomplishment I’ve ever set out to do–one step at a time.

2. I don’t know what to put in it once I have one, and am afraid of alienating the supporters I already have. We all know the horror of being spammed by automatic emails, and the last thing I want to do is perpetrate yet another one of these frustrations. But I do also know that there are some excellent exceptions. Two mailing lists I’ve been on struck me as especially good–Jon Acuff and Ted Dekker.

Dekker I obviously subscribed too because of the Christian speculative author connection. Acuff was because my mom and sister are huge fans and when they heard he was speaking in my area they insisted that I go. This automatically signed me up for his mailing list. And I didn’t regret it.

So as I ponder this new venture, I’m trying to quantify what it was that I liked so much about what both of these guys did. And I find that it’s really not that complicated. They sent out emails less than once a week–maybe about two to three times a month, for one thing. And for another thing, their emails were interesting. They were enjoyable to read and always included something of value to me–helpful tips or news about deals on a product. It felt like they were out to help me, not exploit me.

That’s what I want to accomplish. I want to be in this for mutual benefit–yours as well as mine. I want to be successful, yes–extra income really helps my family. But at the end of the day, that’s only part of the reason I write. I want to bring joy and value to others. To impact them and touch their hearts through my writing, even in some small way. So my newsletter should be an extension of that mission.

The ins and outs of how to accomplish that? Yeah, it’s still a little overwhelming.

So I’d like to ask all of you–what do you consider to be the marks of a good newsletter? What would you like to see from me in the future? What makes you feel like the person on the other end of the email really cares about you and wants to help you and not just themselves?

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