Exploiting You: What Do You Want in a Newsletter From Me?

So we’re going to start the newsletter up again since we actually have new books to promote. Mollie will have very practical, useful content for it, but I want some fun stuff, too. What kind of thing would you want to see in a newsletter? (Mollie is culling the old newsletter list now, so you’ll have to sign up again. We do not spam.)

57 thoughts on “Exploiting You: What Do You Want in a Newsletter From Me?

  1. I always like news about your pets and photos, though you are down to just Veronica now, aren’t you? Have you heard anything about Emily? Is he all right? Did he find a new place to live? (I bet he thought he was in for another trip to the vet.)

    Did you do collages for these collaborations? I expect not, it all went at such a clip. Your collages were always fun, but obviously published books are better, so no complaints!

    You could give away one of your crochet projects as a prize or something. You said you were doing a lot of crochet.

    These are all things you have done before, of course, but it works for me.

  2. love the pet photos.
    To stay connected with far away friends I’ve been sending fav pic of the day (or week, some days are boring). Just flip though the phone and pick one. Helps me to remember to snap the interesting bits, too. Yesterday’s was a picture of the branches I clipped from from my neighbourhood’s thrown out Xmas trees showing how different the trees were. Day before it was the limewash chipping off my freshly painted pantry walls, yes casein powder _does_ make a difference, darn it.
    Recipes? Your banana bread one is much better than my previous fav. It could be entertaining to read success and failure, even, or maybe fan recipes. I’ve seen some good ones here.
    Book or movie quotes that catch your attention? I offer:
    Russian: “our leader looks like… I don’t even know what word is.”
    American: “Frumpy?”
    Russian: “I don’t know what “frumpy” is but onomatopoetically sounds right.”
    American: “It’s hard not to like a guy who doesn’t know frumpy but knows onomatopoeia.”

    Basically, snippets of general life going on around the writing of the books.

      1. Watching for the first time. Definitely do good. I didn’t have a TV when it came out. Course I don’t have one now either. Now I have freevee and a choice of laptop or projector depending on how many are watching. or how picky. Not only did one of us buy a projector, (used, but 200 dollar light bulbs!) and surround sound speakers but he adjusts colour or sound more often than my grandmother changed the channel back her day.

      2. Had to give myself a weekly injection then and hated it, so denied watching it until I turned on West Wing. Non-caloric bribery worked at 9:00 Wednesday night!

    1. I watched West Wing faithfully back in the day, but can’t say I remembered that bit.

      Pedantic side comment:

      Per Wictionary, there’s no good word in Russian for “frumpy,” although there are in some other European languages. The best it can come up with in Russian is a word whose normal translation is “tasteless.”

      Often the learned words like onomatopoeia are the easiest to translate, since they’re often almost the same. Richard Feynman had a story about not being able to remember the Portuguese word for “so,” so he used the equivalent of “consequently,” where he just had to take off the -ly adverbial ending and put on a -mente. Evidently this is a fairly rare word in Portuguese and it impressed his listeners. That strategy doesn’t actually work here in Russian, since like German, the language sometimes coins its own versions of learned words, and the word for “onomatopoeia” is literally “sound imitation.” But I once impressed a Russian teacher by using “epiphenomenon” (epifenomen, эпифеномен).

      1. That’s what I used to do when I was in France – find an English word with a Latin root and Frenchify it. Every now and then one of my French friends would call me out on it and say, ‘You can’t do that!’ They just didn’t know how often I got away with it.

  3. You and Mollie need a living room sign, “In this family, we do not spam.”

    So, a newsletter hmm. Let’s break it down, a letter that delivers news.

    How does it differ from the blogosphere? Instead of me finding it, it finds me??? It’s just you and me, and not the entire human race aka Arghers (just playin’ y’all). So it’s individualistic, lacking community. Tone would need to be personal.

    We already see life and even work progress on here so there’d need to be exclusivity. So didja keep anything in reserve Crusie?? 😉

  4. Weird cool stuff you found on the internet (I remember socks), you can put a few recipes out that were featured in books, the odd awesome movie or book quote, a weird knit or crochet, any art/crafts you made yourself

  5. Do you even need a newsletter, Jenny? I guess it might reach more people than the blog – is that the reasoning? I feel as if I get everything I need from your posts, but if a newsletter turned up, I’d read it. No idea what I want in it though, so my whole comment is basically pointless!

      1. Followup: I spent my two credits on preordering the first two books. Vermillion will have to wait until I have another credit.

  6. This is in addition to the blog? Obviously, you have ideas for it, already. I’ll take whatever you want to give us.

    1. The spark of the story, process, electronic collages cut and paste, or occasionally a hands on, etc.

  7. I should have been more clear. This is not to replace this blog because I drop everything in here and this is a community, not a group of possible buyers. Yes, I know you buy and I’m grateful, but the blog is not here to sell you anything. It’s more of a long term party.

    The newsletter will be to sell you things in terms of new books, new editions (audio, for example), head’s up on pre-orders, and so on. It will go out to a much wider audience, most of who do not know each other. It’s not a community. So the whole pets thing wouldn’t work, people wouldn’t care. Collages might be a good idea. I’m going to start doing a thing on Facebook where I put up some writing theory with an excerpt from the Liz series to illustrate it. I can put that here, too, if you want, but it’s kind of a combo teaching/selling thing. I need to do more with social media, but not here. We do what we do here, and it’s not commercial.

    I would like to get back on instagram, but I’ve done something to mine and I’m having trouble getting back in, so later for that. Mollie straightened out Facebook for me, so there’s a professional site (Jennifer Crusie) and my old page (Jenny Crusie) which is more community based. Bob and I are switching off posting on FB, so that’s just a few words 3 times a week, no big deal. I’m furious with Elon Musk so I won’t be doing Twitter/X. I’d like to play with pictures on instagram. And Bob and Mollie want a newsletter so I ask about that.

    At some point, people are going to sick of me, but since we have book releases coming out in about seven months, we need to promote. Argh.

    1. That makes sense. But I reckon you could chuck a few pets in every now and then – it’s hard not to like a picture of someone’s dog, and the best newsletters throw in random personal stuff every now and again on top of the new editions.

      If it’s going to a wider audience, I’d also include an occasional, ‘What we’re reading’ from you and Bob. Any sort of promotion is also a showcase of your creativity/humour/giving a sense of the book, so maybe bits of story about the writing of that particular book, clashes between you and Bob, etc. Making people feel as if they’re getting a look inside the engine.

    2. Actually, the best open rates come from personal stuff. Subscribers love animal pics and stories from your life. In addition, I give away free books from author friends, post excerpts from my backlist and collages of books that are up for preorder, and put in polls–they love that. When there’s something happening in the news that fits one of your books, it’s a good way to promote your backlist. Like if you’ve got a pop star dating a football player, at the height of Swift/Kelce frenzy, showcase that book in the newsletter. You can give them bonus content–an extra scene from one of your fan-favorite books. They’ll love that, for sure.

      1. I see all of these in other authors, who send out newsletters. EloiseJames is very big on having an extra excerpt or story or the first chapter is posted on her website. Jill Shalvis frequently mentions her fear of spiders, her children, the amount of snow she has received in Tahoe and also go pre-order/buy my book. Here’s the new book’s cover. I have seen recipes and dog photos. I follow Amanda flower who writes mysteries on Instagram, because 90% of her feed are photos of her cats and the other 10% is promoting her books.

        So if you get back on Instagram, be sure to share photos of your crochet projects because that’s a whole community that will connect with you and photos of the pets and then occasionally promote your books.

    3. My newsletter still has pet pictures. Devon Monk does a really nice newsletter. Every month she gives away a small crocheted creature to a random reader. Either she or another author I follow always posts a few “books from my friends” things at the bottom.

      I was told by an expert that you should always have a clickable link (polls, giveaways, something) because that makes it easier to track how many people are actually reading. No idea if it is making any difference in mine.

      Also, thanks for reminding me I need to do this month’s newsletter. Sigh.

    4. I’ll read anything you have, look at any collages you make. FB currently hates me
      and won’t let me friend anyone or look at new pages, so I’m screwed there.
      I hate marketing. Most writers do. Deep sympathy, but you do have Mollie and Bob, and we all benefit from that collaboration.
      Thanks for asking!

    5. Long term party is the reason why this blog is the first and last thing I read every time I check my email.

    6. I do this kind of thing for a job (not for authors but I assume the principles are similar).

      You know how the blog is workable because you have content themes? (Happiness day, good book, working, + extras eg questionables, tv, life…). Are you planning the same model for newsletters? If so, we find 4 themes on rotation (2-3 per newsletter maybe) works. Also, create once, publish everywhere so if you can double up blog content…e.g
      1) publication/reviews/events news (aka book news)
      2) what I’m reading/watching and why (or my favourite romances and why (because getting reviews of books from authors is awesome)
      3) artistic inspiration – collage, tshirts, yarn relevant to books, people, houses that are inspiring etc (allows insta double up and to send traffic to your insta to build audience)
      4) something else – maybe working Weds ish? Ie here’s what I’m working on/working progress/not working distraction

      So maybe other options though
      – politics
      – feminism and romance (I’d love more on this)
      – music to go with books or characters
      – he said/she said

  8. How about excerpts? Even short ones, a paragraph or two, of your older books as well as the new ones. You could even do a little contest “guess which book this is from” or do it as a regular feature of the newsletter.

  9. Recipes, please. I tried out Andie’s banana bread and Min/Cal’s chicken marsala, but I’d love to see others like Agnes’ pancakes.

    1. I make the chicken marsala for Christmas Eve dinner every year. My son is vegan, it works with tofu. Everyone who has ever had it, loves it.

  10. I have a small mailbox, so while I love reading chatty newsletters, if there are large photos that are sent with the newsletter (as opposed to the image downloading it when I open the email), it may blow up my inbox.

    I’m currently arguing with my power company, who think that a 2mb email invoice is appropriate. No, no it is not!

  11. I do not do “social media” platforms – but do do this blog! Newsletters from authors is also something I subscribe to. Here is what I regularly receive from other authors – if it helps:
    *Recipes
    *Pet Photos
    *Updates on writing of the next book (would absolutely adore more of your and Bob’s conversations, they crack me up). I also clearly remember you letting me know (years ago now) about how you were planning a book set in a diner and you made a model of the diner. I was so happy when I read One in Vermilion because – diner!
    *What the author is getting up to when they should be writing but are doing something else!
    *Book sales and offers, pre-orders etc.
    *Appearances and signings
    *Writer conferences and conventions attended/attending
    *News generally about the Author and their life and family

    I genuinely like receiving these updates from authors, I subscribe to these because I like their writing, and that is not limited to books, but if they are a good writer they can make almost anything fun and or interesting. And you, Jenny, are definitely a good writer.

    1. Realise now, that Lavender Blue was the first in the series – but I lent it to a friend, who has not returned it, and Pretty In Pink too, so One in Vermilion was all that is on my shelf for that series. Also there was a diner in Wild Ride.

  12. If the newsletter is to promote books then only put book stuff in it.

    Example:

    Most of my books have a dog as a prominent character.

    My latest releases, the Liz Danger series has a dog named Veronica. She is a blah, blah, blah.

    Some dogs from my other books include: etc.

    You get the gist…

    1. Another example:
      Liz Danger teddy bear collection

      Fast Women china collection featuring the work of Clarice Clif and Susie Cooper.

      Brief mention of the film about Clarice Clif – The Colour Room

  13. Back in snailmail days the only analogous newsletter I received was that of the late Carole Nelson Douglas, which I read mostly for news of forthcoming books and somewhat for details about existing ones, such as non-obvious connections between books. All the gushing over cats and the conceit that cat Midnight Louie was writing part of the newsletter did not appeal to me. (YMMV, and I myself might have felt differently about talk about dogs.)

    The less analogous email newsletters I get nowadays inform me about forthcoming and newly published books and sometimes tell me of freebies or limited time discount prices. Given the prevalence of the internet and author blogs, and the way that Kindle and other platforms suggest new books by previously bought authors, I don’t think newsletters are as important as they once were. That said, many of the suggestions that other folks have made here are of things I’d read. But with greater likelihood about an author I was already sold on, as in the present case, so it might not help sales any. (I do pass on news, however obtained, about freebies, discounts, and new publications to others who I think might be interested, so I might have a little effect in introducing new people to authors that I enjoy.)

    1. Snark.
      Seriously. Your take on the world is an important part of your books—use the newsletter to give us a flavor of it.

      Also keep it short: my mailbox is overflowing so I don’t read long news letters .

  14. I like long newsletters if they are well written and interesting. If I don’t have time I save them to read later. But that does take a bit of effort and might end up taking you away from your writing.
    Most of the authors I subscribe to don’t send much or often, just details of releases and promos and maybe a little (like a couple of sentences) about something going on in their life or a place they like.
    I subscribe so I can hear about promos or new releases but often also as they have a free story or something that you get if you sign up.

  15. I’m thinking the screen grabs of the interaction between you and Bob might be appealing. I certainly like seeing your back and forth dialog!

  16. These are great ideas. I’m going to send Mollie here to look over these responses and we’ll argue it out. I do want at least one semi-personal thing in there. Good point about their size of the newsletter, too. Actually they were all good points.

    Thank you very much, Argh Nation. This is exactly what I needed to know.

    1. I was going to say, on the personal side, if I were doing a newsletter myself (which I ain’t) I might try a Moment In Time, e.g. in 1995 this was happening in my life and I was writing [a book]. 🙂

    2. I was also told to do three sections. So “around my house/what’s happening” “book promo blah blah blah” “giveaway”–again, I don’t know if that really works or not, but I guess it lets people know what to expect and gives it to them in reasonable bites.

      Waves hi to Mollie.

  17. I like the idea of including a photo of something small and graphic, like one of the building diagrams or the cover of a Crusie or Mayer (or both) book in print that relates to the book being promoted new. This could be accompanied by one sentence on how the two pictures or books relate in your mind. And of course I like the idea of collages, although the ones you come up with to prepare for a new book are very large and complex, like the books themselves.

    Maybe you could occasionally produce mini-collages, with no more than three or four images, to illustrate some aspect of a book you are writing for the next series, or an older book coming out soon in a new format or edition. That could be fun for you to do and potentially give you some idea on how to approach a scene or chapter you’re working on? (Without too much time invested, I mean…)

  18. I think a “state of the collaboration” section would be fun. Otherwise, I tend to enjoy newsletters that have a short personal update that includes how the writing is going. Maybe one personal picture. Then links to a couple products—the author’s books, books by the author’s friends, swag, relevant news article. Just not too much stuff.

    Courtney Milan’s newsletter is a bit different from the others I get. She does a personal update written around a new tea she’s tried, followed by a short essay about how a book from her backlist is relevant to the personal update (with links to buy that book). Then sometimes there’s one more section—a recommended book or product. The newsletter is always a Good Read. Very thoughtful and honest.

  19. Don’t want to sound like a total toady but will read anything you write! Books, emails, newsletters – bring it on!

    Esp love your battles with organizing stuff – bane if my existence! Please share your office or working g or craft spaces again.

    And whenever you share about fun with Pat Gaffney or Crissie, can’t help but brighten my day!

    Relish news about new books and projects you are working on – with or without Bob. Don’t know if you wish to share experience with self-publishing via Amazon but definitely interested in this.

    And please, wish you would share any recipes you like or create – esp for brownies that are good for anyone dealing with wt issues. Cookies esp!

    LOVED that you shared you were rereading your own books – I definitely n eeded to read something upbeat so listened to all your books available while I started a new quilt. Got ‘24 off to a fun new start❤️

  20. The only newsletter I currently get on a regular basis is from Louise Penny. It arrives on the 1st of every month, like clockwork, with a nice mix of information on upcoming books/events, a (very curated) view of what’s going on personally (travels, pet, weather, whatever); and some through-line for the newsletter–like a series of quotes or something. It’s not too long, there are usually some pretty pictures and an entertaining link (during the pandemic, there were links to short videos of Andrew Cotter’s dogs Olive and Mabel, which were delightful). The newsletter is also posted on her website where you can click on any photos or links to see them in bigger size, which is helpful.

    I like the fact that I can count on it arriving on the first of every month — it makes it feel like the newsletter is something important to her (and her readers), rather than an “I do it when I can fit i the time (or have something to sell)” activity.

  21. Out takes are always nice. Screen shots of you and Bob texting would be a hit and unique. As well as the other things. Truly professional newsletters are boring.

    Michelle West, who otherwise doesn’t post much, once put out a huge outtake around Christmas. Maybe a hundred pages of content that wasn’t published and never has been since. I treasure that story. But anyway, I think people love seeing out takes and multiple versions of the same things.

    1. Also, maybe misc factoids from your spy-related research.

      And maybe a question each month which is answered in the next issue such as why Bon always wants aliens. You could probably make that go on for a number of episodes. Let readers give their answers. Have a survey to decide the “Correct” answer.

      I didn’t say it before but I agree with the person who suggested Devon Monk’s newsletter. It has been years since I read it but it is the most memorable of the ones I did read.

  22. I would like picture of china. You have sent me down some rabbit holes.
    Maybe some backstory that was edited from the book. I remember Agnes and the Hitman finding a deleted scene, with Xavier. That last ad me to argh ink.

  23. Had to give myself a weekly injection then and hated it, so denied watching it until I turned on West Wing. Non-caloric bribery worked at 9:00 Wednesday night!

  24. I’m firmly in the I’ll-read-anything-you-write camp. I like author newsletters that have some personal content as well as information on backlists, current and upcoming books. Since you are a very funny (and fun) writer, maybe lean into that in your newsletter?

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