My Newsletter Failure

A common marketing tool is a newsletter. We are all familiar with them. Practically every e-commerce website asks you to signup to receive news, offers, coupons, and other things via email when checking out. When registering for new accounts many websites will prompt users if they want to signup for notifications, updates, etc.. These are all versions of a newsletter.

Everybody has a newsletter of some sort these days.

I was no different.

When I began researching marketing techniques and methods following the release of my first book, The Ascension Legacy - Book 1: The Shamed Ranger, one of the first things I discovered was an overwhelming consensus that a newsletter was a must have.

The only problem with that is that I’ve never managed a newsletter nor have I have been a subscriber of many newsletter. This lack of experience and exposure meant that I had no real clue what do with a newsletter or what information to include in a newsletter.

A bit more research revealed that there is no magic template for a newsletter. I signed up for a few newsletters by other authors but each newsletter was different. Some talked about their books, some listed offers that other authors had for their books, some promoted their blogs, some gave updates on their writing, etc.. 

This created problems for me. As someone who had a publishing agreement, the publisher controlled the prices of my books and I had no control over when deals were offered or what those deals were. In most cases, I didn’t know when discounts were given on my books. With no knowledge or control over discounts, I couldn’t really promote my books as being on sale. In place of this, I offered digital copies of my book for free download via StoryOrigin (I still do) and could include links to those free downloads in every newsletter but that was about it.

A number of authors included free works as an incentive to join their newsletter. Signup for X newsletter and get a free digital book of title Y. It seems like a legitimate way to attract subscribers but for someone like with me who only had one book released at the time it was a bit odd. I want to market my book to people to potentially grow sales via a newsletter but to get subscribers for said newsletter I need to give away the book I’m trying to promote and sell??? It seemed a bit backwards to me but I opted to follow the recommendation. The thought being that if I’m going to offer the book for free to non-subscribers then why not try to leverage that same giveaway to get subscribers. After all, I’m only giving the 1st book in the series for free to new subscribers so maybe the newsletter can drive sales of future books, right?

Another theme that could be found in a few of the newsletters I had joined was to promote the books and works of other authors. For me, StoryOrigin offers a venue for authors to request newsletter exchanges, that is to say that I would include another author’s book as part of my newsletter for that period in exchange for them including mine in theirs. I’ve done this a few times. It isn’t difficult to setup a request to multiple authors and my newsletter format for that section included the cover art for the book, the book’s title as a link to an online retailer, the author, and the author’s official blurb about the book. That design seemed inline with other newsletters that included similar content. 

I came up with what I thought was a clever name for my newsletter, Riorik’s Reads. The main character in my Ascension Legacy series is named Riorik, my many online character names in games is Riorik, and I use the alias Riorik in my podcast. The name connected to me and my works across multiple fronts that I hoped would increase exposure to the books and vice versa. I had a friend who does outstanding digital art develop a simple, clean, but attractive logo for my newsletter. And then I found a service to manage my newsletter in Mailchimp.

Time seemed ripe to launch my newsletter.

I had my newsletter signup created that would collect basic information from subscribers before redirecting them to their free digital download of Book 1 for my series. With all of the pieces in play and ready, I went live. I posted the newsletter signup link to my website, I promoted it on social media every couple of weeks, setup exchanges with multiple authors, and finalized my content format.

Despite the number of people following my social media accounts though, the number of subscribers remained disturbingly low. Recognizing that this was a new endeavor, I knew the initial list of subscribers was likely to be only a few but hoped that it would grow in time. Months passed but despite my best but limited efforts, my subscriber list did not grow. Not only that, there seemed to be almost no involvement or feedback from the newsletters as they were sent out. Over time, I found my availability to manage and prep my monthly newsletter lessening. Work, family, health, all of these things were encroaching on the time that I had spent developing the newsletter initially.

Eventually, I made the choice to discontinue the newsletter all together. With so few subscribers and not much time to manage its content, it just seemed like the logical choice.

Maybe after the final books in my series are released and I regain control over pricing from my previous publisher as those agreements expire then I will be in a better position to concoct more enticing and engaging newsletters but for now, Riorik’s Reads is on hiatus. 

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