Newsletter Q&A With Mrs. A

Mrs AEvery person who signs up for any of my newsletters gets a personal welcome note. Sometimes they turn into great conversations, like this one with Carrie Aulenbacher about making the most of a newsletter.

Hulloo, Carrie!

As I anxiously await the printed proof of what will likely be my only children’s book (back to the mysteries!) I think about how easy it is to get distracted from the One True Path (I know; ain’t no such thing; work with me here.)

What could I do to help you stay focused or to keep moving? I’d like to write about that.

Welcome aboard.

Interesting you mention the One True Path because the feedback I’ve been getting lately points to my being pulled in a bunch of different directions and not sticking to ONE path.

So, you’ve just met a romance author who is trying to improve her own newsletter, is passionate about marketing, loves being creative, is excited about writing business articles for Fridge Magazine, was just in the Wall Street Journal last month on a non-author related article -and- who is up to her elbows in a day job with a newsletter and marketing of its own!

With a lot of irons in the fire, I want to glean expert knowledge on how to follow so many passions while not making my author newsletter unattractive.

Do I eliminate one of the passions so as to not dilute myself?

Or add another fork in the road? Another lane to my highway?

Short answer: what you pursue and what you talk about in your newsletter don’t have to be the same thing. I have 2 newsletters for that very reason, and the 2 companies I operate with my wife (web design and virtual assistance to authors) also have their own lists.

Short answer part B: we market me. Our business is Joel D Canfield, so everything has the look and feel and smell and taste of me. Ew. But as an author, I don’t market an individual book, I market myself as an author. Expand as appropriate for your own circumstances.

I’ll write a bit more this Friday on the site about what focus really means, and how to have it (and, perhaps, when not to.)

So if I market me and what I’m into and what I like, then, even if I write romance and do a ton of other things, as long as I explain that the newsletter is about me ‘the brand’ and not about strictly romance, then it should be ok?? Because me, the brand, already goes in a million different directions. And I’d hate to paint myself into a box like every other romance author who just puts out something half-assed 4x a year dithering on about themselves with nothing unique or exciting to share. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that if that’s their brand, just saying)

I was also told the website should ONLY be about romance and anything else un-related should be removed. But, in your professional opinion, if it’s about ME as the brand, and not about one facet of me (writing romance) then everything on that site (within reason, of course) should be ok as well?

I greatly look forward to Friday!!!

I’ll give you a reserved “yes.”

We do, in fact, have separate websites for stuff that’s not likely to be of interest to my general fandom. That’s what I ask myself: what will be interesting to my readers?

If you do metal sculpture, that’s art and could be tied into a site that includes your romance writing.

If you volunteer for Greenpeace or the Republican Party, probably not.

Of course, as a writer, it should all go in one bucket. My site has all my business books and my fiction in the same place, they’re just listed separately. But people who love my business writing often love my fiction, and vice versa.

If you need two buckets to keep like things together and unlike things apart, that makes sense. But separating romance fiction from business writing makes little sense to me. Unless you separate them intentionally for artistic or business reasons, that is. Otherwise, your writing voice is going to have some crossover appeal. Allow it.

Yes, I strive to keep social commentary, religion and politics OUT of my brand.
But as I’m on this wild rollercoaster ride of being a new author and stepping out into this dream come to life, I’m looking at ways to save time and produce creative things. I’m looking at logos for my brand. I’m looking at business cards. I’m looking at websites that can help expand my exposure. I like to share things like that in my exclusive videos in case it inspires other creatives watching to try it for themselves (plus if I can add a freebie or discount to what I’m talking about, I think it’s fun to share that as well)

And, of course, if there’s something going on about my book or upcoming teasers, book trailers, etc, I share that. So there’s a bit of a few different things…I just don’t like to make it TOO big or TOO cluttered, because I know most will just skim it at best.

Would your reserved ‘yes’ still qualify then? Or is that too much for one author newsletter? My feedback from my marketing team was to remove all that from my newsletter because it wasn’t specifically benefiting romance readers and wasn’t specifically about romance. But I, as the brand, am about more than romance.

You’re so kind to share your time and thoughts on this – you don’t know how much I appreciate it!

Back to the reader: who do you want to attract, people who are only interested in reading your romance, or people who are interested in all the other stuff, too?

Write for your audience. The corollary to that is that it’s easier to write for an audience that loves all the stuff you love than an audience that only loves part of what you love. The opposite of that is that sharply pointed focus, creating insiders by allowing some folks to be outsiders, can be powerful.

Which feels right to you, attracting primarily romance readers, or generalists who love romance but also like the other stuff? No wrong answer here, just a little truth you need to tell yourself.

YES, Yes, the big thing is to define the target audience. I’d love to reach out to romance readers, but if I found an audience full of people like me who are multi-faceted and who are into a bunch of things similar to my own tastes, that would be awesome. That, to me, would resonate more than just someone who picked up the book for a weekend read. Plus, it would be empowering to me (if I might be selfish for a moment)

What would be fun…although I’m not sure how you’d feel about it…would be to get my hands on your newsletters and send you an issue or two of mine…have us look things over…and then do a live G+ hangout going over our impressions of newsletters in general and our own examples in specific. [don’t feel it’s anything you have to say yes to, I respect if a video hangout to YouTube video isn’t your thing]

Sometimes, hearing and seeing a discussion takes on different tones than just reading a Q&A. Plus, it would be fun to try [just my personal opinion]

Either way, I’m honored to pieces!!!!

At the moment, I can’t commit to anything like the G+ hangout. I get overwhelmed easily which is why I keep my schedule loose like it is. But an ongoing email conversation is super. Asynchronous communication works best for me. (To give you a hint of how much work video/phone stuff is, the difference between my email only coaching package at $250/month and my deluxe package at $1,000/month is that the deluxe includes phone calls. Massively useful, powerfully draining for me to be completely “on” like that. Far more information than you asked for, I suspect.)

Didn’t mean to overwhelm.
Let me know how the Q&A goes this week; don’t hesitate to flood my inbox!

No no no. Not at all. Email is marvelous. It’s realtime communication which would overwhelm me if not kept in check. But email? Email all you want, I promise.

I’ll be compiling your questions and my answers to post at Someday Box on Friday. If you have more questions, send ’em over. It’ll make for a better article.

One question I’ve really not found a good answer to lies in the video I share with my newsletter subscribers. I upload them to YouTube but keep them unlisted so that I can easily load them into the MailChimp form. However, I wonder if they should always stay ‘exclusive’ or if…at some point…should they go ‘live’ on YouTube?

Just like some authors provide an ARC copy to their newsletter subscribers so that those readers can “see it first”…should I promote the videos as “watch it here first” before I put it up publically on YouTube?

I get such enjoyment out of working on them monthly (and I constantly find myself looking forward to other videos that authors post) that I don’t want to put a lot of work into this exclusive material if only 50% will open it and see it. Perhaps a growing catalog of videos on my channel might be helpful to me down the road?

Your thoughts?

Again, what serves your fans?

I suspect that while they appreciate early access, they would want your best stuff to be available to others as well. Which is more or less what you suggest.

Video is a lot of work. Limiting who can see it should only be done for very good reason. I’m working with an author on a video training series which they’ll sell. Obviously making that public defeats the purpose. But if your videos are designed to develop readership as well as engage existing fans, they can only do the former if they’re visible to folks who aren’t already insiders.

Make sense?

“Get channel content before everyone else – subscribe today” Boy, I like the sound of that. Don’t you love a conversation that brings such an easy solution to light – after you’ve made it harder than it had to be? LOL

I get very little feedback so far, but if I give it privately one month, then release it publically the next month, that would sure catch more eyes. Especially Twitter!

Here is a link if you have time to take a gander:

Granted, it’s hardly professional, but I do what I can as I’m just starting out!

I’ve made most of my living, seriously, by seeing the one bit most folks miss. Raised by a quality control expert who worked in the computer industry in the 70s and it seems to have fostered some connection-making skills.

Love that video. I laughed sometimes just because you’re so excited and enthusiastic. Good production, too. Looks good, sounds good, fun simple intro/outro.

You’re very photogenic. Videogenic? I hope you promote these videos far and wide. Good way to create fans.

More About Carrie

I’m a 15yr veteran secretary at Lake Erie Logistics/Transportation Investment Group in Erie, PA, where I handle the social media for the company, along with their website, their monthly newsletter, (The Drive On Digest), quarterly road taxes, weekly billing, company supplies and anything else nobody wants to do!

In my down time, I am a contributor to Fridge Magazine with business articles. I also contribute to iUrban Magazine where I provide articles about social media. I’m a freelancer who loves to network with other authors about customizing their Facebook author pages (handy video explanation here) and I also provide auditing services for those starting out. When I’m not working or writing, I’m outside playing in the creek or working on my macro photography. (Love close-ups of bugs!)

Sign up for Carrie’s newsletter here.

Related read: Ricardo Fayet, writing at John Yeoman’s Writers’ Village, talks about engaging your fans to do your marketing for you.

3 thoughts on “Newsletter Q&A With Mrs. A

  1. This is great because, other than my giveaway, I haven’t sent my email list anything. Mainly because I haven’t found a topic or topics that (I don’t blog about) I think are worthy for my newsletter. Perhaps I’m being too cautious. I’d just hate for people to cringe when they see my name thinking it’s “just another newsletter” cluttering up their inbox. I look forward to more tips from you.

  2. Think about it, Sue: these are people who stood up and asked you to talk to them.

    How about, when you have a great interview coming up, you give your newsies exclusive access to suggest questions for the interview?

    Tell them about upcoming books. That should go to the newsies first, blog later.

    Give them sample chapters. Tell them when you’re traveling.

    In short, if it’s going on your blog, it can often go out to the newsletter list first.

    When you offer a newsletter you make a promise to give them the inside scoop. Silence doesn’t fulfill the promise, eh?

  3. There’s always a silly story that happened to you during the past month that you could share! Another thought that just came to me today was to do a bit of ‘newsjacking’ in regard to the April 2nd episode of ‘Bones’ where Dr. Brennan turns to Twitter to grow her fan base for the books she writes. That’s a GREAT bit of pop culture to jump on as an excuse to talk about the challenges authors face when it comes to sales!

    Step out and send us an edition and just talk with us about how you fit in your love of writing with your hectic daily life…or how the spring inspires you. Fans love hearing from authors because you’re the one who has created the characters we love!

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