Everybody’s Doing It

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To MailChimp or not to MailChimp. That is the question.

You would think that someone who has a book published already would understand a little bit more about how to get a book published than I actually do. Even if you wouldn’t think it, a lot of people do. So I get asked about it a lot, and then I flounder around–sort of the way I’ve been floundering trying to figure out how to get Favored One published.

I’ve hit up a few literary agents, but only one of them has responded, and that with a “not interested.” We’ve already mentioned how difficult Favored One is to classify–which makes it tough to know how to pitch. How do you pitch the retelling of a story which everybody (well, nearly everybody, I suppose), believer and skeptic alike, thinks they already know?

We’ve discussed Kickstarter (or, at least, I’ve brought it up, and TheBro discussed it with me off-blog once), but that’s not a route I want to take–at least not at this point. One thing I did do was create that account at Authonomy, which I’ve mentioned before, and will mention again in an upcoming post. Something else I’ve done lately is subscribe to blogs by professional writers (freelance, self-published or traditional) to see if I can pick up any tips that are manageable . . . or might be manageable once the summer Camp season (which for me, starts tomorrow) is over.

One writer who seems to generally know what he’s talking about, is Cristian Mihai. He somewhat recently wrote a post about Author Websites. (It probably wasn’t that recent, comparatively speaking, but I’ve been away and stuff.) In this post he talks about how every present-day writer worth his or her salt (well, that’s how I read it) has a newsletter to which readers can subscribe.

The skeptic in me balked at this. If I find a writer whose stuff I like, I subscribe to the blog and I get notifications when that person posts something new. Rarely do I even notice if they have newsletter-subscription option as well, and if I do notice, I think, “Please! When would I have time to read that?” (Sorry, newsletter writers.) So I posted a comment and he very kindly responded.

Here’s what I said:

Can you speak to the usefulness of a newsletter for an author who has one (unknown) traditionally published book and one unpublished-and-not-sure-which-route-to-go book? I already muse about my publishing options on my blog, and I don’t really have any noteworthy updates at this point. I love the idea of giveaways, but I’m not sure what I’d give away, and money’s tight right now so that even the thought of postage makes me flinch. Suggestions?

Here’s what he said:

A newsletter feels more personal than a notification of a new blog post. That’s reason enough to start one. And, also, it’s a great tool to see how many fans of your writing you have among the people who are following your blog (which is never, ever the same thing). Furthermore, it’s something all professional writers are doing, so there’s got to be something about it. Makes you look more professional.

I don’t think it’s that difficult to come up with enough content to write a short e-mail every month or so, whether is just updates on your writing, works in progress, or other stuff related to you as a writer.

Indeed, the idea is that you’d have to have something to give away. I did a giveaway with one of my short stories a few weeks ago. It turned out to be pretty cool. And it didn’t cost me a thing. That’s the idea, I guess. I can’t afford postage either, so giving away paperbacks will have to wait (that is when I’ll have paperbacks available.)

 

What do you guys think? I’ve been thinking about stuff I could “newsletter” about, and I do think I have something to say. Not totally sure I’ll have the time to say it, but I suppose I could manage one update a month. That’s what I used to do for my sponsoring churches back here in the US when I worked in my church in the UK, and there were always stories to tell. Would you all think I was more professional? (Stop laughing into your hands, guys. Go ahead, just let it rip.)

Or is Mr. Mihai a fortunate writer/blogger who’s got people to subscribe to his blog and his newsletter, but most people like me really just don’t want one more thing to read?

Also, if I were going to do this kind of thing, what would you like to see as a giveaway? I’ve already “given” you some short stories here, but . . . I could start making them commodities, I guess.

 

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