For awhile there I had a newsletter and didn’t even know it. When I started listening to author interviews and reading more current news on writing, I told Dawn I needed a newsletter. She told me I already had one. She had put it together awhile ago, and tried to keep folks abreast of what was going on with me through it. I told her that I needed to be messaging these people directly, consistently. She reminded me that she had brought that up many times; I had brushed it aside, and said nobody cared. Well, of course nobody cared. I wasn’t doing anything with it.
I apologized, again, and asked her to help me get it figured out. We already had a handful of subscribers, and she showed me the list. It was pretty much her, my mom and me. There were a few others, and bless them; but you get the point. It was time to let people know who I was, and what I stand for, and that I was ready to take my subscriber list seriously. Hmmm…how do I do that, again?
Rule number one is ‘brand yourself’. Uh-oh. In case you haven’t checked, ‘multi-faceted’ is not a genre. My second book was way different than my first, going from inspirational new age autobiography to supernatural fantasy in one giant leap. The next two were the rest of the trilogy, but I was gearing up for a whole year of writing about zombies. Where did that fit in? Oh, right. The reason I write is always the same. I’m looking for the information that shows us that the antagonist is really a protagonist in his or her own story, or the scientific study that shows that darkness is really compressed light, or the thing about zombies that makes them the savior of humanity while hungering irresistibly for its flesh. (Sorry; it is ‘The Year of the Zombie’, after all.)
I’m all about the deeper meaning. It’s always there; I have no worries about that. It is finding the deeper meaning and sharing it that delights me, and weaving it into a story that would be fun even if it didn’t have something to say. Yeah, that’s me. Also, I’m somehow very serious and super silly all at the same time. I love dark humor, and carry plenty of it around with me in that brain matter that keeps coming up. I can be self-deprecating, while expecting a lot of myself. So I started ‘The Secret Society of Deeper Meaning’. Every year will be a theme, possibly a whole new genre or an old one revisited; but the overarching theme will always be that I am looking for the deeper meaning. It was already there, I just had to look. As per usual. Okay. Phew! I’m branded. Now what?
Consistent free quality content. Wait, did you say free? And what do you mean by consistent? Quality I can do, but…wait, did you say free? Yeah, I said free. The best mantra for anyone who wants to take their dream seriously is ‘get to work!’; it’s no different for today’s writer. You can do it, and with my help you can get started ahead of where I am right now. See, the plan for next year steps this up for me, to what I’ll recommend to you. But it’s too much work for me to do this year, so I won’t be providing weekly content until January 2017.
So, how do I do this? Provide free content and keep my regular writing schedule? I’ll tell you how, and why it will take me a few months to get weekly about it. First things first, though; and this should be the easy part: write your subscribers a short message every week. Make sure you can stay consistent in what you’re talking about, and that you’re interested in talking about it every week. Write the message like you would to a friend or family member; that is what you are gathering around you with your newsletter, after all. The people who like the stories you tell and the way you tell them want to know what’s up with you, so tell them.
Some good do’s and don’t’s: do be light, and fun, and consistent. Don’t ramble on about your cats or how hard it is to write or how you made it onto some obscure best-seller list. Tell them how you’re working hard to make sure they get the best of you, and then make it true. If a project is going to take awhile, let them know; then consider doing some things other authors are doing.
Share a chapter a week from the book you’re working on. What? It’s not finished, or edited, or finished! Nobody can see it! I know; I’m dealing with that myself. I could have released the short stories in chapter length chunks every week, but I like this format better for this project. But the next one…well, I may share it as it takes shape. I’ll let subscribers know that they’re getting it raw and fresh, and that the book might have some real changes; but guess what? Newsletter subscribers like being an insider when it comes to your process, and don’t mind the rawness of the first draft. They might even help with suggestions or comments, and take the story to the next level for you. They already like what you’re doing; this will make them like the next thing even more.
Will they buy it? It almost doesn’t matter. What does matter is that they’ll think about it, maybe even talk about it. Some of us love being raving fans, and telling anyone who will listen who our favorite authors or filmmakers or candy bars are. When someone we like touches us personally, we get even more excited about sharing. That’s a big reason to build your newsletter, and find ways to seek out your natural subscribers. It’s like having an intellectual family that relies on you to keep doing what you’re doing, and rewards you for doing so in more ways than Yesterday’s Writer could have thought possible.
Don’t pass up this opportunity to send your readers a message every week, and some content that is worth reading. If you can’t give them consistency right away, promise it consistently until you do. And one other thing: look for how you can double that writing and publishing schedule, so half of what you do is only ever available for purchase. Give them a book or two, then ask them to buy the next one. You might be surprised how well things go. You might also be surprised how within reach that doubling of your productivity can be. We’ll keep exploring that, in other bonus posts. Just be glad I haven’t told you to start writing a weekly blog yet. I’ll tell you why, in one of those upcoming bonus posts.
Thanks for reading!
All the best,