I’ve become very fond of a podcast about Young Adult lit called Kidlit Drink Night. They always make me laugh and I end up making lots of notes about books, movies and TV series to look into. They call themselves “Superfriends,” which is sweet. There is a lot of laughing. They share a love of YA Lit, and an often bizarre drink for the night, which is not always met with approval. :-) They end their once-a-month sessions with the question, “What are you crushing on?” I love that.
So: What am I crushing on right now? (Other than the Kidlit Drink Night podcast.)
I’ve been bed-bound for over a week since a minor knee operation to repair a meniscus issue. I’m not going to whine about it! In fact, I’ve discovered that I’m the perfect candidate for this type of life.
Having neglected my website for years, I discovered a number of problems. Fortunately, I was able to find a great website person through Fiverr.com who is helping me. We have quite a bit to do yet.
(Frankly, I don’t know how authors who publish a book a year manage.)
An important part of getting my website more reader-worthy was setting up my Media page. Following the directions of Tim Grahl (see below), I learned to code my Media page so that high-definition images would be automatically downloaded with just a click. I’m fairly stoked that I was able to do this.
Also, on Fiverr.com, I found someone to turn the book cover of The Game of Hope into a 3D image (see above). For $5!
Easy Outreach with Tim Grahl
When it comes to marketing, I’m a fan of Tim Grahl, He’s experienced, down-to-earth and realistic. I’ve taken a few of his online courses, and they’ve always been worthwhile. Right now I’m following a new one he’s testing out, “Easy Outreach.” Basically, it’s about how to get interviewed on podcasts, but the detailed system he outlines would apply to any outreach: to blogs, vlogs, or podcasts, etc.
An important part of the process is to identify suitable podcasts and to study them before making a pitch. (I’ve discovered a number of wonderful podcasts in the process.) I’m kind of excited about putting this into practice. I ordered a USB Yeti mike, and already have one podcast interview scheduled for the fall.
I’m ready! Who knows where this might lead?
Finally learning Scrivener
I’ve promised myself that I would write The Next Novel on Scrivener. I’ve taken stabs at learning it before, but I’ve always ended up confused and frustrated. It’s a complex programme! I was on the verge of giving up when I came upon a Udemy Scrivener 3 course for Mac. It had excellent reviews so I went for it. It’s been fantastic. I have questions almost every day, and the teacher responds to every one. I take it bit by bit, and immediately apply what I’ve learned, so hopefully it will stick. I’m finally understanding why so many writers love it.
Additionally, I’ve been developing my next novel following the guidelines in Story Genius by Lisa Cron. Puzzling over how to get Cron’s scene card templates into my Scrivener project, I Googled “Story Genius Scrivener” and found a wonderful article by Gwen Hernandez on WriterUnboxed: Using Scrivener with Story Genius. Bingo! She even included a downloadable Scrivener template with scene card templates (and much more).
Watching movies, reading and listening to books and reading magazines …
And then, of course, there have been wonderful movies to watch: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri; Call Me by Your Name; and, last night, Lady Bird. All were simply great. Of the three, I found Call Me by Your Name the most enchanting, swooningly European.
And then, of course, books, books, books! In addition to books on writing, I’m reading The Burning Girlby Claire Messud and listening, on Audible, to an amazing performance of The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas.
In my decades as a published author, I’ve learned a few things about the author newsletter.
First: it is the single most important thing you can do to reach out to your readers. Experts on book marketing say that an author’s newsletter is more effective than any amount of social media (although social media certainly helps).
Fortunately, sending out a newsletter is also one of the easiest things an author can do.
Research by subscribing to author newsletters
Subscribe to author newsletters in order to learn about all the various styles. In this way you will see what engages interest — and what does not.
Decades ago, I started out with a simple email sent to family and friends. I quickly learned that there was a limit to how many emails my computer mail program was willing to handle.
That’s when I discovered the need for an email service. (I use GroovySoup, but many authors use MailChimp.) For a reasonable fee, an email service will provide you with a newsletter template, maintain your email database, and give you statistics (how many opened your newsletter, for example, and which links were the most popular).
You can have a standard template customized. I have the header of my newsletter reflect my website:
Feed your email newsletter database
Most everything you do as a writer should be with an eye to gathering email addresses to add to your newsletter mailing database. If you give a reading: pass around a newsletter sign-up form. On your website and blog, be sure to have a sign-up link. This database is gold: these are your core followers.
Some author newsletters are formal. Mine is more chatty. I like to imagine that I’m writing to my closest friends and family, so that the tone of my newsletter is close and familiar. Decide what tone is best for you.
I feel it’s important to give nuggets of news: the newsletter shouldn’t be too long, and it should be easy to skim. The headlines, too, should attract interest.
Write about a variety of things: your research, your work, your travels — your news — but also include things that will be of interest to your readers: books you’ve enjoyed reading or a writing tip, for example.
Give things away. With each of my newsletters, a subscriber wins a copy of one of my books.
I revise my newsletter several times over, and before I send it out I have a few people read it and make suggestions. Because it is hard to see one’s own mistakes, I have an editor look at it for errors. This is money well spent.
There should always be visuals in a newsletter. I use Google image search and my own photos. Be sure that the images you use are in the public domain. Wikipedia images are available for use, as a rule. Canva is a site for creating your own custom designs.
Give thought to the subject header
The subject header in your newsletter is very important. Imagine all the email people get. The subject header is what will make someone decide whether or not to open your newsletter. Make it interesting.
How often should you send out a newsletter?
Some authors send out a newsletter once a week, others once a month. I aim to have a newsletter out every three months. I think once a month is considered the most effective.
Do you send out an author newsletter? If so, please link to it in the comment section below. I’d love to see it. What has worked best for you?
I sent a newsletter out this morning—read it here, if you haven’t yet—and I just had the pleasure of sending an email to the lucky winner of an autographed hardcover copy of The Shadow Queen. (If you get an email with the subject line You won a book (no, this is not spam!), don’t throw it out.)
Catching up on GoodReads, and saw a note from Leah Marie Brown announcing the trailer for her book Faking It (the first in an It-Girl series), which will be out May 12. I know that readers of this blog don’t expect to see a trailer for contemporary romantic comedy here, but 1) this trailer is funny, clever and smart (as I’m sure the novel is), and 2) Leah and I go back a long way.
A journalist with an addiction to travel (specifically France) and history (specifically French), Leah has been one of my most enthusiastic readers. She interviewed me on her blog On Life, Love & Accidental Adventures, writing:
[blackquote] Ten years ago, I read the first book in Sandra Gulland’s trilogy about Josephine Bonaparte and knew I wanted to write historical fiction. Her sumptuous novel about one of the more fascinating women in history was so richly woven with setting details and evocative prose, it lit a fire inside my writer’s belly.
She interviewed me and other authors for an article in Writer’s Digest on travel research: “Have Plot, Will Travel.” Her book club read—and enjoyed—Mistress of the Sun. She bid on and won an autographed set of the Trilogy. She has followed this blog and is a friend on Facebook and GoodReads.
Over these many years, she has been writing, and publishing. I predict that her It-Girl series is going to be a hit.
A friend just emailed: Is it as exciting as the first time?
Although there is nothing quite like the first time, I woke up this morning and thought, with a big grin, PUB DAY!
It’s such a miraculous thing!
I’m still in Mexico, so I can’t see it in bookstores in Canada and the U.S. If you see it, send me a photo (sgulland AT sandragulland DOT com) and I’ll post it here.
Here is the link to the newsletter I sent out yesterday: http://bit.ly/NewsletterApr72014
I’ve emailed the winner of THE SHADOW QUEEN (always fun).
Reviews—even brief ones—on Goodreads, Amazon.com or Amazon.ca are so very much appreciated now. If you’re not ready to review, give a “thumbs up” to a review you like.
And, as well, all that usual Social Media stuff: thumbs up, likes, re-tweets and tweets! It’s a noisy type of day.
But most of all, I hope you buy THE SHADOW QUEEN, or get it out of the library, or borrow it from a friend. In short: I hope you read it. And if you love Claudette and her eccentric tribe, chat it up. Word-of-mouth is still the most powerful promotion there is.
I’m working on the Author Questionnaire for Doubleday’s publication of The Shadow Queen, and that requires quite a bit of time mucking about in my promotional and publication history.
Any day now, I will see the first pass on the book cover: I’m excited. I’m already madly in love with the interior design.
Meanwhile, I’m cranking up the word count on the Young Adult novel about Hortense, going slowly at first. We will have the pleasure of our now 1-year-old granddaughter Kiki, our daughter Carrie and her mate Bruce this long weekend, so I’m only aiming for 50 words a day. Dipping a toe in—that’s all—but it’s important to do it every day. This morning I aimed for 50 and chalked up over 200. I’m very much enjoying exploring this youthful story.SaveSave