Exploiting You: Let’s Talk Newsletters

So Mollie and Bob think it’s time I started sending out newsletters again, and I’m okay with that as long as I’m not annoying people. And you all are the people I’d least like to annoy so . . .

What would you want to see in a newsletter from me? Let’s be Frank and Honest here (I think I just discovered a new business for Rocky Start: Frank and Honest Skidmeyer’s Dollar Store). This newsletter is for marketing. It is to get people to buy books, preferably ones with my name on them. The major goal is to take your money. So I should at least be giving you something back, right?

What I’m afraid of is being seen as pushy and annoying. (Another business? No.) So the next question is What would you NOT like to see in a newsletter from me?

I told Mollie we’d have to add some fun stuff to it even though we’d keep it very short. What kind of stuff would be Short, Fun, and Not Annoying?

Finally, I’m supposed to look at other author’s newsletters. (Mollie runs a tight ship full of research.) Are there any author newsletters you enjoy that I should look at?

And as always, I thank you for your Support and Feedback (definitely a gift and not a business).

73 thoughts on “Exploiting You: Let’s Talk Newsletters

  1. There is a flaw in your reasoning here: “The major goal is to take your money. So I should at least be giving you something back, right?”

    If you take our money it will be for a book so you are already giving something back.

    Honestly – I subscribe to a few newsletters but I don’t read them. I look to see if there are new books out & that is it. BTW – there are a lot of authors who have assistants that write their newsletters – for example – Susan Elizabeth Phillips.

    I think if you want a newsletter to sell more books that’s great – but just do that. List what’s currently selling. List all of your previous books. Talk about what you are working on. Include links that can be clicked on to buy.

    Beyond that – if you want to share something – a crochet project or something – then do that. If you don’t – then don’t force it.

    1. Hard agree. Save the newsletter for when you have news, like a book coming out or you’re on someone’s podcast or whatever. I subscribe to several author’s newsletters and I just want them to keep on topic. I unsubscribe from any emails that start appearing too often. Anyone who wants more would come here.

      1. Roxie Noir has a nice newsletter that I always take time to read when most of the others just gather dust in the promotions tab.
        Sarah Rees Brennan used to have a great blog (and think she also sent the content out in emails but my memory is unreliable.)

  2. I subscribe to a few newsletters and the ones I stick with are those that are medium length and add some pleasure or value to my life when I read it.

    Here are some specifics:

    They don’t create more work for me. They don’t link to lots of other websites (ie here are lots more articles to read and things to wade through).

    They are long enough to dig into but not so long I have to save them for when I have a lot more time to read.

    I get them no more than once a week and no less than once a month. Every other week is probably my sweet spot.

    I don’t care what the topic is as long as it’s heartfelt.

    Jenny, I have greatly pared down my collection of books over the years but I have a shelf of yours and I regularly reread them. I look forward to adding more.

    1. I wanted to add that I read Robin McKinley’s blog for many years and I enjoyed the window she shared into her life but it got frustrating after a while that it was rarely about writing and the process. I really longed for another book from her and hearing her talk about everything but sucked so eventually I drifted away.

      I think you have a great balance here of talking about writing and other things. So I’d keep that balance. Although share more pics in a newsletter.

      And if it wouldn’t be boring/ painful for you, I think it would be fun if you took a walk down memory lane and shared some stories about the books you’ve published over the years. Maybe a then and now series where you also shared your current take on the characters or the subject. It would be a good way to get nostalgia / repeat buyers for older books, remind people of how much they loved them and get them interested in your new stuff

        1. fiction writer, yes? a look back at how a younger you might have thought about it
          My memory sucks now, where it used to be great, and I find myself telling stories with the flavour of how I feel about then. I know I make up details but the shape is true to me. like in Cinderella Story.

          email lists that come in every week, or daily! get unsubscribed within five or six emails but monthly or less will get kept. Actually reading depends upon a good subject line, or specific interest as in “hostels with sea views” just when I am thinking of getting out of town. Or very, very occasionally, favourite author say, or local permaculture, that can be relied on to be interesting or helpful, them I read as they arrive.

          1. been reading down the page and my main thought is: these (we) are the ones who already follow and buy.
            Who will you be aiming this newsletter at and where will they be finding/signing up for it?
            Elsewhere may inform your choices of what to include.
            I recently read Facebook mentioned as “old school” and asked. Recent generations are more Instagram and tik tok. Or book tok I suppose(never been, not fond of video learning unless visual is much easier, like texture to aim for, or where, exactly, do you put the lever)

            I would suggest only a couple pages at most (like a resume)
            and a set format so those that are only reading for the “mcGuffin of choice” can easily find it.
            very General subsections like “slice of life”, “writing news”, “media of interet” Listings with plenty of elbow room so you can wander at will.
            if you get up some momentum it might be worth it to run contests along the lines of best one minute tik tok adaption of “new book” gets a recently crocheted (little! postage and time) stuffed version of the book’s pet, or cental food, or a hat or fun thing you felt like doing. and you don’t have to choose, either readers vote or random pick. Next newsletter might publish a few good ones, some people would value the notice alone.
            Tik toks you don’t make yourself, definitely worth considering.

      1. Oh I love the idea of a walk down memory lane!!
        Maybe for “book anniversaries”?
        Hannah Henry used the first anniversary of her first published book with something extra (in her case giving the first one away for free): instead of such a book present I’d much prefer insights like Debbie mentioned.
        And it would be soooo good to shine a light on what a treasure dove the existing older books are for readers that like your books but maybe only found you recently.

    2. This is all good especially about the timing. Mollie suggested once a month and I thought that might be too much. And definitely short.

      I did think about maybe doing a RetroBlog feature, going back to a really old blog post that was relevant now. But that would be a link.

      Must cogitate. And thank you for keeping my books!

      1. Loretta Chase has a nice newsletter that I welcome each time it shows up in my in box. I don’t remember the timing specifically, but I bet it’s not more frequently than quarterly issue.

        She includes updates about upcoming releases (she has started writing again, so very encouraging), when her older volumes are on sale, tidbits about fashion from her books, etc.

        Also, I think informing people of an opportunity to purchase, those folks who have chosen to sign up for your newsletter, is not a distasteful attempt to get their (our) money. The newsletter doesn’t have to be written with a hard sales, buy now or lose the opportunity tone. Just info for readers who like your work. A soft touch can go a very long way.

        1. Yes: I like Loretta’s newsletter. It’s not on a regular schedule – in fact all the authors’ newsletters I subscribe to just come out when they’ve got something – preferably news about new books, or special deals on Amazon, etc. – to say; which I appreciate. And definitely not more than once a month, if you must do it regularly. I think I’d find a newsletter issued regularly for the sake of it annoying. The only regular ones I subscribe to are from gardening writers – one’s a reminder of what needs doing in the garden this month, and why; and the other’s a weekly short article about what’s exciting in their garden. But of course gardening is seasonal, and there’s always something new happening.

      2. That kind of link is great. A link here or there, but avoiding bibliography length is always fine with me.

  3. I’ve been around long enough to remember when Mollie told you to stay out of the comments, not to reply to people on your blog. She’s an amazingly brilliant and talented person who is lucky to have you for her mother. Also, sometimes she’s wrong. I think this is now the second time.

    I subscribe to your blog, where you post almost daily, and which I read almost daily (sometimes I have to catch up). I *could* follow you on FB except that it has become a flaming mess that doesn’t show me posts from people I follow anyway.

    I don’t need or want more from you than that. I think duplicating efforts or trying to come up with fresh newsletter-only content is a massive distraction and waste of your time. Probably I wouldn’t subscribe.

    Write more fiction instead, please.

    [This is irrelevant, IMO, but since you asked: I enjoy newsletters from Lucy Score and Talia Hibbert and Intisar Khanani and Nancy Herkness and Brett Battles and, geez, I’m sure there are a small handful of others. I don’t think they have blogs, so now that I’m not active on twitter and haven’t found a replacement, that’s the best way to get book news from them.]

    1. I totally agree. I read your blog and no one else’s. I get a couple of newsletters and just skim them to see if there is a new book. Or why the next book is taking so long. They are from people whose books I have so re releases and temp cheap rates don’t interest me but would appeal to others.

      I think you are a brilliant writer and should write books and hang out with your friends (us). I don’t see value in a newsletter. You could have an assistant write it but then it wouldn’t be fun to read.

      1. Ok I just looked at the Facebook page and I think if you do do a newsletter it could be publication news plus Bob and Jennie outtakes

        Wouldn’t take you away from writing books.

  4. I’ve subscribed to a couple of author’s newsletters and the one I like a lot is Lily Morton’s monthly NL: she’s got a few sections:
    * short news about herself what she’s working on, how writing is going, visits at e.g. York for research, some books she read and loved herself etc.),
    * about the production of e.g. the next audiobooks / when the next book will be out (roughly)
    * then the “Model Clinic” where a few of the models from one of her series have a podcast, so they basically sit together and snark about smutty subjects (I could do with less smut, but it’s in character with those those guys) which gives the illusion of them being real people,
    * then some icons to click on if I got interested in the titles she read and loved and want to check out myself,
    * an invitation to join her Facebook group which gets easier access to snippets of the next book/novellas for free etc.

    What I love in newsletters: variation and snippets of the soon-to-be published book I’m looking forward to, cover reveals, small snippets of the auhtor’s life (e.g. pictures of their dogs) without this being too personal.

    Treats: In the recent Ashlyn Kane NL she offered her subscribers a chance to get an older book of hers via bookfunnel.

    Cover reveals are also always great.
    Eden Finley/Saxon James included some interaction in their last NL, asking us about the blurb for one of the more recent ones (The Heir…): they had two versions, one more in marketing-fashion, one less so and dd and I took part and gave feedback (we both much preferred the less “sensational” one. And we noticed that the authors chose the more real blurb to go with afterwards, so others seemed to have prefered that one as well.

    So basically:
    All the nice authory touches that you do anyway here on this site would be great for a newsletter 🙂

    1. KD James has a point: all of the authors’ newsletters I’ve subscribed to are ones that don’t have a blog like you have here. Or they do have facebook groups that seem to provide what we have here without having to join facebook. Which I stay away from.
      Also none of them have such an “interactive” website, so newsletters make sense.

      However: a newsletter might make sense for future or new readers or those who wouldn’t have the time to come here every (other) day but still get “a piece of snarky Jenny” and don’t miss news about upcoming publications (which is the reason I subscribed to the ones that I’ve subscribed to, to not miss out on new projects). All the other stuff is welcome extras.

  5. I subscribed to Nalini Singh’s newsletter because she would include short snippets and stories that you couldn’t read anywhere else. Outtakes, really, just revisiting characters with bits that didn’t belong in a book. She doesn’t do that anymore and I mostly skim and delete because they are very promotional and she isn’t an auto buy for me anymore.

    I don’t think that that Ilona Andrews does a newsletter, but they will do a “buy my book” post on the blog which have a fun, self depreciating tone. I mostly tune in there for slice of life stuff.

    I’m rooting hard for recipes from your books, maybe down at the end. Sort of a revisit of my favorite characters. But then, I like looking at recipes.

    1. Trivia from your research for books that wouldn’t necessarily be used in your books?

      Recommendations of other books/media you like (or your readers like)

      Surveys (answers next edition or on website)

      Never more than once a month imo

  6. Hi! New reader to your blog and such, long-time reader of your books! I’d love to hear bits about your current book’s status, interesting tidbits from your research, info if you are doing book events anywhere, and maybe the occasional treat of small scenes/vignettes (deleted or fresh!) of your established characters. I’m ok with repeats of key info from your blog bc it IS marketing. Why not throw in anything that has been joyful for you lately (new favorite snack, sharp yarn scissors, books)? It’s not an author, but Made by Rae’s Friday Favorites are a nice example of someone expanding beyond their official scope (sewing, some knitting) to keep us all connected between big pattern releases (rare). Count me in on a newsletter!

  7. Please whatever you do at some point after a book is finished and you want to add an extra chapter, don’t. Especially if the reader has to download and click to infinity to get to the chapter. I’ve tried this on occasion and have given up because (1) I’m not techy inclined and (2) by the time I get to halfway there I don’t care what happens to the characters. Just sayin’.

  8. Shelly Laurenston has a fun newsletter as do Susan Elizabeth Phillips and Mary Janice Davidson.

    Nothing that you write could annoy me, since I’m so happy you’re writing again. That can never be said enough!

  9. I started this blog to consume your words while you were in your writing blockade period (“we would read your shopping list”). And, the cadence you have going now is great. I enjoy the personalities on the blog-the banter between some people who seem to know each other off blog, and learning about things I would never know (existence of MM hockey rom coms) that I can whip out IRL conversations and stun people for a second. And I love the you and Bob thing that pops up.

    The only other blogs I read are beauty/fashion blogs to supplement the increasingly skinny Vogues, because I am just that shallow.

    I subscribe to the weekly Airmail, which is Spy reincarnated, so I can get a hit of that kind of writing.

    But you want to reach new readers and they need to read you (poor babies don’t know what they don’t know). When I reread your books (some are held together with elastics), I often focus on the ancillary characters-Garth, Joey (who deserves some happiness); Lisa Livia and Carpenter, Liza in Bet Me, Gwen and Rabbit, Rachel and Leo, LaFavre, etc., and think it would be great to have more of a story about them.

    So a feature (not a book-more like a moment in the life of x that takes place more or less in the present but as if they were still youngish to be relatable to younger readers) like that in a monthly newsletter would introduce new readers to the original books and make me happy (consider that a future what makes you happy post).

    And what about those movie options? I watch old rom com movies and wish Faking It was a movie to watch the last scene in Clea’s bedroom and Fast Women to see the first scene when Nell was breaking stuff in Gabe’s office. I will watch the truly abysmal rom coms on Hallmark. Even with the Hallmark dumbing down and trop-i-ness, the good stuff from your books would still be lurking around. And money is money.

    1. I think that a fashion/ advice column from a panel of characters could be a lot of fun. Liza, Min, Daisy, etc. It doesn’t have to be current. Fun shoes, thrifted fashion finds…

      Ilona Andrews will do little mock interviews with characters which are amusing.

  10. I love this idea! I recently signed up for author Louise Penny’s newsletter. I am really enjoying it, it feels like she’s writing to friends. She includes pictures, favorite quotes from authors and poets. Plus, she invites us on her travels and gives the latest updates on the latest Gamache book.

  11. Hm I don’t have a lot of thoughts about newsletters, but one thing I always look forward to in a newsletter are the recommendations since they allow me to discover something new that’s personally recommended by people whose opinions I largely trust. I would add just one recommendation per newsletter (so hopefully it wouldn’t be too much pressure) of something you enjoyed or found value in recently, whether that be a book/tv show, recipe, tool, crafting pattern, etc. You can also dip into past recommendations you’ve made here (like Murderbot or Heyer or the tv shows you like to rewatch for comfort) if you’re worried about running out; we won’t tell anyone haha

    Other than that, I agree with short and something written in your voice. A topical picture (of crafting projects, pets, nature, food, etc.) could be fun if it’s not too much trouble. I don’t know if this would be too much work or not integrated enough, but in terms of a topic, you could sort of synthesize what everyone has said and just swap between all of them as you feel like it, keeping us all on our toes so we don’t know what you’ll talk about each time.

  12. I could send you a few copies of my emails if you like. Although I’m not sure they’re examples of how to do it right.

    I was told by an “expert” that once a month is a minimum, and weekly is best. Ha. I have finally gone to once a month, but before that I basically sent them a few times a year.

    I like the idea of posting a snippet of “Jenny and Bob argue about writing.” I also like it when the authors I follow give a brief update on what’s going on in their life and some writing updates. Shorter is definitely good–3 “bites” of something.

    Don’t worry about exploiting us. We live for that shit.

    1. When I was writing newsletters for my parishes, I read advice that said weekly was best, so that is what I did. I have no idea is that made a difference, but it helped me see what was important to me and to the parish. I always had a short opening statement with my thoughts.

      1. Yes, but I can see that would be great for supporting a real-life spiritual community, I think Jenny has the building community thing covered here, and a newsletter doesn’t need to replicate Argh. I think it should really be about news, but always include a one-line suggestion to come here for community.

  13. I will read anything you write. I remember searching for any crumb of news about you and a possible new book when you were in your writing drought. I had just found your books and loved them so much. I wanted more! I even read a couple of the early ones you wrote with Bob, which really weren’t to my taste. So I guess any little snippet of news about progress on books and things in your life would be great. Definitely news about release dates and works in progress would be welcome to new fans. I’m just elated that you are writing again, and we get to hear about it.

  14. I agree about Lucy Score’s newsletter. I’ve never read any of her books but I enjoy her newsletter anyway. Even now that she’s a megastar it still has a great, chatty tone to it and isn’t too “sales-y.”

    I subscribe to many newsletters but it is mostly just research because I send one of my own. I want to know what parts I skim and what parts annoy me and what parts I can’t do without. Then I apply those thoughts to mine.

    I’ll be watching this thread for more ideas. 🙂 Is that exploiting you while you are exploiting us?

  15. Lovely Jenny, your blog is wonderful, and the graphics are amazing, why not just ‘newspaperize’ that? Your favourite blog post sent out once a month, referring to your website and the treasure trove you have there. Funny and personal do it for most of us, your big readers, and add dogs and we are happy. Other writers newsletters I love are Ilona Andrews ( way too often, but funny) and Gail Carriger. Perfectly gossipy with extras such as a Lord Makaldem fashion advice column, and tea recipes.

  16. Outtakes: You’ve mentioned in some posts that you go through book drafts and cut things ruthlessly while analyzing flow before publication. I know I can’t be the only one who’s curious about some of these, wishing I knew some character’s back story, or that breakfast at the diner, or an argument that led up to some scene.

    If you have early marked drafts filed away, it would be nice to read bits and pieces that you liked, but trashed for length or pacing reasons.

    2. Crafting insights: You knit, you crochet, and you admire things others have made or done. I would love to see bits on “a great scarf pattern I saw that I couldn’t have knitted myself” or “that color yarn I can never find.” Or Before/After photos of a craft shelf reorganization.

    3. An occasional Newsletter Question Day on the blog or newsletter where you invite people to offer questions they’d like answered in a future newsletter. Saves you thinking these up. 🙂 You could even have a word limit so we send you SHORT questions, because if you’re like me, you can go on Way Too Long….

  17. I would love a newsletter, because I could subscribe and it would remind me to come here.

    In newsletters, I like news…I follow Alice Elliott Dark on substack and I really enjoy her weekly musings and she has just written a great one about plot. And if you haven’t come across her 2022 novel Fellowship Point, about the deep friendship and secrets of 2 80+ women in Philadelphia and Maine, can I recommend it strongly. It was a favourite read of mine from last year, really outstanding.

    I am a huge fan of these ridiculous videos where people share their desk set ups or every day tech needs, productivity tips and I loved when you shared all the pics of work you were doing in kitchen and on writing area, bedroom area of your previous cottage.

  18. I subscribe to a number of newsletters and I’ve realized the the key feature of the ones I appreciate the most is…news. I like to hear about upcoming books, progress on in-progress books (or non progress!), author readings, new editions, artwork, other novelists’ books being published that the newsletter author admires. I also like snippets of work or the ability to vote on stuff but…not required.

    And since you asked for Frank and Honest I notice I am completely uninterested in the author’s vacations, dogs, kids, other relatives, medical issues or any other personal information unless it affects publication deadlines. Which is not, by the way, to say I’m not interested in hearing about yours which I always am, but I want to hear about it on Argh, not in a newsletter.

    1. I agree! I tend to sign up for author newsletters only to get a free bonus story, often about characters I already know. All I care about after that is book news and additional bonus content. Alexis Hall had a newsletter-only serial going for a while. K. J. Charles has provided early access to bonus content for newsletter subscribers. In both cases, they only send out newsletters when they have book news to share, so they’re very sporadic, even many months apart, especially between books. I vote for you to send out newsletters only when you have something book-related to report and drive traffic back here for all the rest. Bonus content would be, well, a bonus.

      What happened to the Patreon idea? It would make more sense (and money) to put all this effort into Patreon where you’re actually getting paid. The newsletter could also drive traffic there: newsletter for news, Argh for community, book and movie/TV reviews, personal life info (what you’re already doing now), and Patreon for occasional bonus stories about people from your books. Maybe move some of the writing content, like Questionables, etc., to Patreon. Monetize your expertise!

  19. I just went back and took a hard look at the author newsletters to which I subscribe. It turns out I disregard a bunch because they are too frequent. Examples of the ones I actually read are: Alexis Hall, Josh Lanyon, Susan Elizabeth Phillips. Their content is essentially as follows:

    ** news on when the next book is coming out or when an older book is being re-released and if there is any new info like a new forward or something like that. If its been a long time since the last book, its always interesting to hear that the reason is that the author has been bogged down with their day job, or has been hiking the world (a few pics — SEP is good at that) or is just plain overwhelmed by Real Life (Josh Lanyon is good at that) all with only as much personal info as they choose to share.

    ** news on progress (or lack thereof) of audiobook and idea of how long it might take till it will be available.

    ** occasional recommendations for books the author has read and loved (even when in a different genre.) There are different ways of doing this but in his latest email along these lines Alexis Hall just sent a list of books (and links) with very short reason why he chose it. There was one recently (Amazon might have put it together but he appears to have had input, or AI did a good job) which was entitled Alexis Hall’s Book Picks and it was a list of books which included his own and a few “if you liked my books you will like —-” It was short, sweet and I bought two books off that list. And if I hadn’t already had all his books (not all of which I love) I would probably have bought more of his. (Btw, he is very transparent about it when he is recommending a book by someone who shares a publisher or agent.)

    ** Notification if a book or audiobook is on sale for a day somewhere.

    ** Notification if author is appearing on a podcast or if their books are being discussed on a podcast. That’s a big one for me. As a listener of podcasts of all sorts I will go over to the romance podcasts if a book by an author I like is being discussed or —even better— if that author is a guest on a podcast. These podcasts often result in book buys.

    As for how often you put out this newsletter, I don’t think you need a regular schedule — put it out when there is news. A new book, a book cover, an audiobook, etc. An update for the sake of an update isn’t worth taking time away from your blog or your writing!

      1. I hadn’t see that one and I love it — Looks like a lot of work went into it.
        In looking closer at the latest newsletter type email I received, I see the one I received was from Amazon entitled “Alexis Hall Book Picks” and looks like this (no web link available so am just cut and pasting the comments – the thumbnails didn’t copy.) In the email there are thumbnail pics of each book cover. The book descriptions by Hall himself are very brief and many are to his own books. Clearly Amazon supplied the full info on the books with links to each one. Looks like this:
        “Alexis Hall shares book picks
        If you are new to my work, I recommend starting with my book Glitterland
        See book details >

        If you want to get lost in a story, I recommend my book A Lady for a Duke
        See book details >

        My most talked about book is Boyfriend Material
        See book details >

        A book I couldn’t put down was Siren Queen by Nghi Vo
        See book details >

        A book that left an impression on me was A Psalm for the Wild-Built by Becky Chambers
        See book details >

        If you like my work, I think you’ll like The Hate Project by Kris Ripper
        See book details >

  20. If there is going to be a newsletter then I want snark. And maybe beauty tips for the old and decrepit – meaning me, not you.

  21. The only newsletter I get is Robyn Carr’s new releases and rereleases, new covers etc short sweet and to the point. Opens with a sentence or two of what is happening. There is one other monthly newsletter by an author, very newsy, a recipe, where she will be, etc. I opened the email, looked at the length and couldn’t do it. Maybe because I have a lot of stuff I am doing and want to do, the newsletter became a chore to read. Sad to say I deleted it but not unsubscribed. Writers work hard. You, I read, short or long.

    Authors who were auto buys and now not, is because of the writing, not the new letters.

    I will read anything by you. Snippets of you and Bob, covers, collages, short dialogues, publication dates, etc., on the short side, monthly or quick updates news flashes on releases, rereleases dates. Whatever it is to be, it will be great.

    1. Lots of writers I read, but I don’t read or subscribe to their news letters. Maybe that makes me fickle or impatient.

      I will subscribe to Loretta Chase’s newsletter, though. Automatic purchase like you. It’s the writing.

      Just remembered there is another newsletter, short to the point, new release, etc. occasionally a personal photo, and I read it every time. So…shorter side is good.

  22. I read a few author newsletters, but mainly read author blogs. The newsletters that I like are no more than once a month and give something extra besides just my book is coming out. Things like a snippet that did not make it into the current book or from an older book with much loved characters, a scene from the one being written, mentions about the writing or editing process, or other things like that. And pets. I always love to read about author pets!

  23. Hi,

    Well, let’s be honest, I’m not the right person to ask because I’m an old-timer and would read your grocery list, lol.

    But, I think a newsletter is an excellent marketing tool and I don’t mind links as long as they are relevant and useful…to me! I love the idea of linking to old blogs that are relevant now. But also to the current blog. I also think you could repurpose stuff on the blog such as the text patter between you and Bob. That stuff is gold.

    Or perhaps, a “playlist” of all the blogs for a particular book, such as all the blogs on Lavender?

    Once a month is not too often, it’s just right. Two a month is fine for the month before, the month of, and the month after a book is published. It is a marketing tool and we are all sophisticated enough to know that.

    Also, be sure to make it shareable so I can easily share it with other book lovers! I hate when I can’t share it and, even more importantly, it’s a lost sale for you.

    Nalini Singh has a pretty good newsletter that talks about new issues, reissues, international covers, book teaser chapters, and also things like what podcasts she’s been on. I at least skim it every month.

    Speaking of podcasts, I’m assuming you two will do at least a few when the Rocky Start books start dropping. You could also absolutely do some now for the Liz Danger series and then pitch the Rocky Start at the end. You then tell people in the newsletter and send them to the recording, hopefully on a website you own so there’s a link to books they can buy!

    I could use some live (ish) Jenny and Bob so podcasts right now would not hurt my feelings! Just sayin’.

    Otherwise, nothing but good times ahead.

    Book done yet?


    Love you!

  24. does Molly know anything about TikTok or Booktok?
    If you want new readers, I see expanding to these. Everybody thought a lot of great ideas but if you’re going to do a newsletter, you’ve already got all that you need. Just need to put it in some kind of order old book of the old book of the month.
    What you’re reading
    A couple of emails between you and Bob because those are hysterical
    Where are you? Writing is now.
    I Like the idea of maybe a happiness newsletter – what made you happy this week? Always need a question.
    I wrote a weekly blog for three or four years. Haven’t touched it since Covid, but it was never about my books. It was about other authors.
    Molly wants you to write this to get new readers. Any of us who know you on this? Blog would indeed read your laundry list. We wait for crumbs of Writing to drop on this forum

    I know they’re lots of new readers out there for your books. I’m going to try booktok myself.
    Get into subscribe to this I am reading right now.
    Good luck because of course what you need is one more thing to do. Maybe Molly could write the newsletter.

  25. Just put in the short story of Agnes and Lisa Livia’s missing person and I’ll read it 🙂 Over your shoulder as it comes hot off the press if necessary. I just don’t think we are your demographic for the newsletter, Since we are pretty much willing to buy anything you write so we don’t need the hard sell. Still making it short, sharp and snarky will keep people’s attention

  26. I would continue to come to Argh for maximum Jennyness.

    In newsletters, I like serial stories. Standalone scenes. Character sketches. Stuff that people write that relates to a book but which isn’t included in a book. Or maybe something like an “exclusive to newsletter subscribers” extra – something that’s going into a new ebook edition (as opposed to an update of existing title) and which would otherwise require a person to buy that new edition. Can think of three authors I like, right off the bat, who have released new editions and there’s no other way to get the bonus chapter or whatever. In one case I did not buy the new edition. In two other cases I did. But I feel a little burnt about it. Because I already bought those books, dammit.

    Not a fan of contests. Another thing I don’t care for in newsletters a pitch for exclusive content I can only get on a paid platform. I want to know about the books. 🙂

  27. Lots of good suggestions. Many of them are things you’re already doing here. Or could easily add. The current schedule of certain things on appointed days might help keep you on track, but has it become boring for you? That’s a creativity killer (for me, anyway). Maybe a new project sounds like an interesting change? Squirrel! Newsletter!

    Experts say that when deciding about social media, choose things you’ll enjoy because it will quickly become apparent if you don’t and you might end up with a dreaded chore.

    It’s worth considering the nature of a newsletter vs a blog or FB feed. The latter are community-based, things that can become a conversation. A newsletter is an announcement. It can be entertaining as well, but the shorter and less frequent the better. No one replies to a newsletter, let alone to the other recipients.

    Jenny, you have a rare talent for building community. It’s in your books, in your blog posts, and I assume FB is the same. You thrive on community. Would you be happy putting out a newsletter where there is no chance of building community or creating discussion? I think that’s a question you need to ask yourself before making a decision. Think about what *you* are going to get from it and whether that will last.

  28. The only newsletter I subscribe to is Ben Aaronvitch’s. Sporadic would be the best description of his publishing rate, and it’s perfect. He sends one when there is news and a couple of times a year he’ll send a “moment” just to keep us interested. Too much content becomes a chore, probably as much for the writer as the reader.

    Though I would read the hell out of a newsletter that consisted entirely of the Bob-Jenny convos.

  29. Kim Watt, Chuck Wendig and Nalini Singh are the only authors with newsletters i subscribe too. But Jenny yours is the only space where i come and look for updates instead of skimming my inbox.

    They share release dates, snippets of upcoming books, free short stories, a bit of real life stuff. But I don’t notice if I don’t get them.

    As for newsletter design, timing, purpose and content – I’m trying to learn a lot of this stuff myself and my current fave expert who shares a lot of great free info is Taleist (https://taleist.agency/)

  30. I think weekly is way too much, at least to start off with. If you suddenly find you love it, you can always increase frequency, but if you set the bar that high and find you need to lower it that might feel like a let down for you.

    I’m not really a newsletter person, but I’d say sporadic sounds about right to start – send it when you have something to say, rather than as a set “It’s the end of the week and I haven’t sent anything out yet, argh, what can I do?” albatross. This can naturally flex to increase as needed, especially around book publications.

    Content: I’m sure there’s all sorts of “rules” about what to include in a newsletter, but I’d again say include what interests you. Even if it’s just a random picture of a dog up to its armpits (leg pits?) in snow. Unless you like the idea of a formula to hang things on of the ‘book(s) update, personal update, recipe, book I enjoyed recently’ variety. To me ‘newsletter’ sounds fairly formal, like it has expectations attached to it, but what I’d like would be ‘Crusie News’. Just random bits as and when you felt like it.

    But then as I said I’m not really a newsletter person, so I’m likely not the target demographic for this (plus, I’m already here, lol). I have a feeling Mollie would probably read what I’ve put and then look at me and say, very firmly, “No.”

  31. I guess I need to know the difference between a blog and a newsletter in this context. I would have described your blog as a “newsletter” when sending someone to check it out. I tend to associate newletters with old fashioned marketing that, as others have mentioned, has been replaced with social media options. A lot of which don’t provide the good vibes of new info from our favorite authors like they used to. I would guess the object of news distribution in this case would be to attract more readers – new or backsliders – to let them know about your projects.
    I read your blogs, and I read Jenny Lawsons email blogs(?), and I skim through the HEA newsletter (I think they call it) and in all of these cases I do what the sender is hoping I’ll do–I forward. I share. Funny stuff, funny snipits, new books news, intetesting blurbs – I send to friends and co- workers.
    I forgot, I also follow writers on instagram and do the same thing about sharing from there. And those might be something they are doing, a book signing, finishing a new book to be released, sharing pics of outdoor views, pets, silly mishaps, events they attended or were part of. A friend and I went to a book event in New Orleans because we saw that 2 or more authors we read would be there. We saw this on their Instagram account, even though I believe a couple of them had a newsletter.
    I know that from a business perspective, starting a newsletter that you end up unable to maintain can be damaging to your goals. So it might be better to start of without a promised frequency, but an honest statement that you’ll send out no less than quarterly, and possibly more often when there is news to share. Then don’t let the descripter “newsletter” determine the length. More is not always more.

  32. You share so much here that it’s difficult to think of how a newsletter would be different. But I do like the retro idea.

    Maybe in addition to revisiting your books you could do a little something on the characters. Bios or where are they now. Maybe what came after the HEA. Maybe with photos of the collages if you still have the photos.

    maybe revisit HWSW, or at least the book tour stuff. New readers won’t know those stories.

    Once a month sounds good, not more than twice a month. You don’t want to do it so often that it’s a burden to come up with something. But you want it to be something readers look forward.

    Don’t worry about us, we actually WANT to buy your books, you know. And we assume you don’t write them for free.

  33. Reading this thread with great interest as I recently (as in a few days ago) put my newsletter on hiatus because of the new Google/ Yahoo rules.

    I would be happy to receive a newsletter but not once a week. Maybe once a month or when you have news or a book launch.

    I follow this blog and your Facebook for the day -to-day:) It’s very cool to see all the excitement and goodwill building and growing around you and Bob and your new projects. So happy for you!!!!

  34. I have often thought of the emails I receive with notification of blog posts as newsletters. Some are brief: “Bob distracted me so Good Book Thursday is on a Saturday this week.” Some are longer, where you share the back-and-forth that result in or from a fresh chapter. I look forward to those even though I check Argh Ink often enough that I’ve responded before I got the notification.

    You and Bob and Molly will figure it out. I’ll enjoy it.

  35. I think weekly might be too much of a distraction from actually finishing the next book! Argh is where I go for the daily/weekly stuff from you.

    The other authors I like so accept newsletters from are: –

    Susan Elizabeth Phillips – she writes mostly when she has a book coming out, but the newsletter is usually fun, there are travel pictures sometimes, occasionally a video, or an interview with herself which is also often hilarious.

    Anne Gracie – once a week usually. Cover reveals, book/writer events she has attended (with photos), about her dog, about her garden or nature (which is fun as she is in Australia and the opposite season to me) and recipes she has made (with links to if she got it on-line) and photos of the food. But it us usually quite short, really only filling a screen without scrolling to much.

    Nora Roberts – Twice a year or when a book is coming out. Usually quite short but with lots of links to blogs, photos etc if I want to read more about holidays or her garden etc. Gives her publishing schedule for the year and also coming events at her book shop.

    Maria DeBlassie – monthly. What she has been working on, Tarot stuff, what she has read, recipes, and also links to interesting things. She is an educator as well as a writer and that comes over.

    Love the ideas others have given here of out-takes, or maybe backstories on side characters, and I adore when you let us see your “conversations” with Bob. I also have enjoyed the book reveals. But I do come here for all that, because I am a fan who has read all your books (and re-read them). So am I your target audience?

    I do not do social media (Argh is as close as I get to that) – because I do not want to be found (abusive relationship escapee). So signing up for a newsletter is it for me.

  36. My favorite newsletter is Courtney Milan’s, called Courtney’s Weekly Tea. It’s weekly, and has two consistent parts and one optional–1) a description and review of a specific tea she’s tried; 2) a brief comment about a book from her backlist or an upcoming or new release, and 3) an optional brief comment on her news of the day, which could be writing, or something she’s done or learned about, or whatever. I love her writing voice in the newsletter– I like tea in a much more low-end way than she does, but I’m enjoying learning about the scope, history and preparation of tea even thought I’ll probably stick to my teabags. I don’t think that “Jenny’s Monthly Crochet” would lead me to take that up as a hobby, but I suspect I’d enjoy reading it in much the same way…

  37. A couple of author newsletters that might be interesting to look at:

    Elly Griffiths
    Richard Osmund
    Robin Sloane
    PJ Fitzsimmons
    Ilona Andrews

    One thing they all have in common is coming out sporadically, usually when there is some kind of news. You get a few more right around publication time. With a few exceptions (Robin Sloane in particular) they tend to be short and have publishing information and then a link to the blog for more details.

    I’d love a newsletter from you as a reminder of when things are coming out. Very excited about the Liz Danger audiobooks coming out Tuesday!

    The facebook posts have been great!

  38. I really like Talia Hibbert’s newsletter. I think that’s practically the only one I have? What I like about it? That she’s fun on there and she doesn’t bombard me with content. I did hear from that Newsletter that two of her series are being shopped for TV deals which I was really excited for. I’m just a fan of her in general so any news from her I like, came applies to you

  39. I second the idea of including interesting things you’ve run across during research. Kinda like Loretta Chase & Susan Holloway Scott on their blog. Of course that’s a blog. But a little snippet would still be fun. Like when you and Bob went Down South to walk the terrain.

  40. I subscribe to Daniel Pink’s newsletter, which he calls “The Pink Report.” He’s going to be reformatting it this year and moving it to a new platform but hasn’t explained more than that. It comes out approximately monthly.

    What he had been doing included:
    – a short (< 2 min) video on a topic related to things he's researched/researching
    – a section called "Read Watch Listen Try" which includes
    – a reading recommendation
    – a video recommendation
    – a listening recommendation, usually a podcast
    – a recommendation on something to try, January's was for the iphone app Things
    – Other People's books – a book recommendation with a bit of explanation as to why he's recommending it. It typically has the format of
    – 1 sentence summary
    – 1 important question
    – 1 surprising fact
    – 1 key takeaway
    – links to buy the other person's book (Amazon, B&N, Indie booksellers, and Public Library aka to WorldCat

    I would say don't put out a newsletter if it takes you away from other things that you love or are already committed to. Definitely only do it when there's something to say or no more than monthly.

  41. I’m a bit late to this but Penny Reid has a great newsletter. I subscribe to many authors newsletters (I must have gotten on a lost because some are authors whose books are Not For Me). I just went through and unsubscribed to any who had really long or unorganized newsletters. I like to be able to skim quickly for important info (sales, pub dates, appearances) on days that I have a gazillion work emails and have no time for fun emails.

    I hope that is helpful.

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