Urban fantasy author Alexia Chamberlynn of The Life and Literary Pursuits of Alexia Chamberlynn not only has one of the most informative sites in the blogosphere, she recently launched the monthly newsletter Raven Moon for readers and writers of this popular genre.
I'm delighted Alexia stopped by today to share some behind-the-scenes tips for this marketing tool.
What role can newsletters play in an author's marketing plan?
A newsletter can be used to supplement an author's core social media tools, such as blogging, Twitter and Facebook. I chose to create a newsletter because I wanted something that appealed specifically to urban fantasy fans, since that is the primary genre I read and write, something unique I could offer to my core audience. My other social media tools focus on writing in general and are not genre specific, so a newsletter seemed the appropriate tool to complement the others.
What content should a newsletter include? Should it appeal to writers, readers or both?
Really, I think the possibilities are limitless for newsletters. I think the important thing is for the newsletter to offer something of value to the subscribers. For the most part, I think something that appeals to both writers and readers packs more punch. For instance, I have a list of urban fantasy new releases for the month and will be featuring books reviews and author interviews. I also include a featured book trailer and must-visit Web site. All of these appeal to both writers and readers. But I do have things that are more writer-focused, such as featured publishers and agents.
How often should a newsletter come out?
In my opinion, weekly, biweekly or monthly are all good alternatives. You don't want something that arrives in people's inboxes either too frequently or so far in between they forget they even subscribed. I chose monthly, because that frequency made the most sense in correlation with my blogging schedule.
What tools did you use to create an online newsletter and distribute it?
I chose an e-mail newsletter service called MailChimp. It's free and easy to use, and I've been very impressed. I mainly wanted to be able to create a professional-looking, HTML e-mail newsletter, but once I signed up I realized, that beyond their many newsletter templates, there is a great benefit in having a service that stores your newsletter contacts and makes sending the newsletter easy. There's even an easy way to create sign-up forms for your Web site. And MailChimp is certainly not the only option; there are many other choices on the market.
What are some great ways to let readers know about a newsletter?
I've used my blog and Twitter to spread the word. I offered a book and gift card giveaway to celebrate the newsletter launch and created buttons that people can add to their Web site or blog that link back to my newsletter sign-up page. MailChimp gives a link to a Web preview of the newsletter and even a function that allows you to Tweet the link, so I've done that so people can sample the newsletter before signing up. Of course, word of mouth and interviews like this are golden. :)
How do I know if a newsletter is right for me and my genre?
I'll answer the second part first ... I think just about any genre could benefit from a newsletter. Whether it's right for you is a whole different story. With all the other social media and marketing that writers do, it's challenging to fit in one more thing. I decided it was worth the time it would take each month to produce the newsletter, because I wanted something purely urban fantasy that didn't take over my regular blogging and tweeting. I blog and tweet to connect with all types of writers, and I love experiencing both the diversity and universality of the experience. But for this I wanted to focus on just a particular sliver of the writing pie.
What else should I keep in mind before starting my first newsletter?
Be prepared to learn a ton! I've been amazed at how much I've learned with just the one issue I've produced so far. I learned a lot of technical stuff-formatting, graphics, etc. More importantly, I've learned a lot more about the industry while perusing the Internet to get good stuff for the newsletter. I researched agents, publishers and authors. I found Web sites and blogs and Twitter feeds I'd never thought to look for before. It's been a ton of hard work. And it's all been super fun.
Michelle, thanks so much for having me on your blog today! I love talking about what I love to do, so this has been a real treat. And I'm honored to be featured on such an amazing blog written by such an amazing writer!
Yesterday pre-published author and marketing consultant Laura Barnes of Laura B Writer awarded the Savvy Sensation Award to me. Thank you very much! The only criteria is to pass it on to someone who is amazing, inspiring and enthusiastic. Well, that perfectly describes Alexia, the second recipient of this new blog award.
If you'd like to be a guest blogger on Bird's-eye View or participate in a book review/author interview, I hope you'll let me know. My e-mail address is mefayard(at)yahoo(dot)com.