Thursday, February 13, 2014

hearts and moons

Happy Lovey-Dovey Day! I'm celebrating love, friends, and my awesome guest today! (thanks, Vikki!)

Many of you already know about Crystal Collier's touchy feely (paperback) release of her book, MOONLESS and lots participated in the blogfest she held on Monday to celebrate. Well, I'm giving my answer to her question today, along with some great answers I gathered, hopping around - and to save time, I'm responding here and tweeting about it... and covering #FF at the same time! Efficiency at its finest!

The blog hop question was: If you lived in a society where arranged marriages were a la mode, who would you beg your parents to set you up with? (Literary characters and celebrities welcomed.) Who and why?

Answers I collected:
Elizabeth Seckman - Thor, nuff said
Christine Rains & Sheena Kay both put Severus Snape! Plus a few more...
CR: Sirius Black & Dean Winchester, SK: Tobias Eaton (Four from Divergent!) & Arrow
Some ladies kept their spouses (ha ha, I mean awww!) - Kimberly Afe, Madeline Mora-Summonte, Tyrean
Kyra Lennon - Randy Orton?? hunky tattooed dude
Donna Hole - Connor McLeod, the Highlander (immortal benefits)
Heather Musk - the Tenth Doctor, David Tennant
Kim at Swagger - Clark Gable! A long time personal favorite of mine too
Brinda Berry - admired characters, Braden, Regulus, & Gansey
SA Larsen & Trisha - Mr Darcy, (Colin Firth, please!)
EJ Wesley - wife, did a great job combining descriptions of fictional characters
Chris Fey - Jared Leto (Jordan from My So-Called Life & leader of band, 30 Seconds to Mars) always been a heartthrob of mine, too
Ellie Garratt - Professor Brian Cox, a real stud of all trades, brainy & cool!
PK Hrezo - Legolas Greenleaf, elfen dreams!
Morgan Katz - Taylor Ambrose
Ashley Nixon - her boyfriend, Aladdin (aw!)
Heather Gardner - Malcom Reynolds - FIREFLY!

My celebrity crush has been Cary Grant forever. But I would need to know what's on the inside - that's why I picked my hub! (who happens to resemble Matt Damon - lucky me!)
And now, I am so excited to present Crystal Collier! She's going to enlighten us on a topic I've been considering lately - NEWSLETTERS! Help me, Crystal!

Tara, thank you for having me here today! I'm excited to share what I know about newsletters.

Why bother? Building a list is hard. It takes time. I've been building mine for about 6 months, and with some targeted promotions (contests and giveaways) have about 90 subscribers. Let’s keep in mind that some of those are just spam addresses people use when they want to sign up for free stuff. *shrugs* We all do it, right? Say 50% of those are great contact emails. Now say 50% of those people actually read the email. Now say 50% of those people decide to buy my next project. That’s approximately 11 sales for just sending out one email. Now, stretch that initial number of subscribers, and do the math. This is going to be one of your most powerful sales tools.

Where to start? For anyone who doesn't have a tech slave guru in house, a simple subscription with a service like Mailchimp is perfect. Here’s a post with 30 different services you can check out. Remember the #1 rule, DO YOUR RESEARCH. 

But why should people sign up? Think about this from a potential subscriber's view. A great way to incentivize people is to offer something of value when they sign up. Maybe that’s an exclusive short story. Maybe it’s an insider article for writers. Perhaps it’s a coupon or voucher for a book. Think about your audience and what would be of most value to them. Initially I gave the first 3 chapters of my debut novel and sneak peek at the cover—before it was released. Now I send out the cut prologue of MOONLESS—an exclusive tid-bit.

Make it easy. If a subscriber has to give you their home address, social security number, blood type, birthday, finger print, shoe size, best friends’ mother’s name…they’re not going to bother. If they have to click through two different sites, they’re not gong to bother. Put your sign-up right on you home page, very accessible. Make it PRETTY. Make it enticing. Most of all, MAKE IT EASY. Mine is on my blog sidebar AND the foot of every post.

These created by my hire-able in-house slave guru.
The guts of a newsletter. Great, now you've got a few readers, what do you send them? 

Content:  If you read web-wide advice, you’ll be told to include a body article, announcements, any special promotions or opportunities, and to customize it according to your individual personality/readers. If you’re big into cooking, maybe that includes a recipe. If you enjoy cars, maybe you share a dream model a movie racing clip. Get creative.
I’m centered around cheese, which for me means happiness, therefore my newsletter focuses on uplifting thoughts, freebies and funnies. Each time I send out a newsletter it starts with a greeting, very BRIEF news, then an inspirational thought or laugh. It always features visual aids, (because I’m a very visual person), a couple links to funny articles I've run across recently, an announcement of freebies coming up on my blog, and finally, one to two sentence book reviews on my monthly reads with cheese-head ratings. In my initial email I promise:
  •          Articles to make you smile
  •          Announcements of Upcoming contests and giveaways
  •          Quick links to tasteful “funnies”
  •          Opportunities to review books previous to their release date
  •          My monthly reads, rated in cheese wedges
  •          Excerpts from upcoming works
  •          Meeting characters behind the scenes
  •          The chance to influence stories in progress with early feedback
What should a newsletter look like? That's my newsletter to the right. When I was first getting started, I researched like crazy. Remember, your newsletter should reflect you, your personality, and should be identifiable instantly to readers. You also don't want it to be too busy. Keep it clean. I grabbed a piece of my blog banner, threw in my brand coloring, links, and of course, designed my cheese heads. Most services should have prefabricated templates you can use--just like blogging services.

Length: Please be brief. My time is worth a great deal. Isn't yours? If you have an extra long piece of information to share, give a paragraph or two with a link to read the rest online.

How often should you send out a Newsletter? Regular emails keep you in your readers mind. Still, if I get a regular monthly email from someone, it better have amazing content or I'm going to start ignoring them. On the reverse, if what I get is awesome, I’ll really look forward to it. Some authors only send emails when they have news, and that's perfectly acceptable. Once a month, once every six months, once every other month...figure out what will work best for you and your schedule. 

And there you have it! Any questions?

Crystal Collier, author of MOONLESS, is a former composer/writer for Black Diamond Productions. She can be found practicing her brother-induced ninja skills while teaching children or madly typing about fantastic and impossible creatures. She has lived from coast to coast and now calls Florida home with her creative husband, three littles, and “friend” (a.k.a. the zombie locked in her closet). Secretly, she dreams of world domination and a bottomless supply of cheese. 

You can find her here:

I enjoyed having Crystal here - Great post, girl!
Everyone gets extra hugs today - take as many as you like!


PK HREZO said...

Awesome you collected so many Tara! These are my faves as well!
And gosh darn the newsletters. lol I know I need one. I started one, but I haven't had time to focus on it. It's my goal once my sequel is complete. *sigh*
Thanks for the tips Crystal!

Trisha said...

I always wondered how people make their pretty newsletters. Someday maybe I'll have to make one myself, but the thought already terrifies me. haha.

Thanks, though - I'll be bookmarking this post.

M.J. Fifield said...

I love everyone's choices for arranged marriages—especially Malcolm Reynolds. Awesome!

Sheena-kay Graham said...

Got a mention! What! What! Anyway congrats Crystal and I can only think of getting a newsletter when I finally have a personal computer. My online time is cramped enough already. So glad I have an ongoing writing gig right now and it's finally insight for late March/early April.

Optimistic Existentialist said...

Mine would be Zooey Deschanel or Emily Blunt!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I've thought about a newsletter, but no idea what I would put in it. I can do Ninja News on my site, but the though of putting it in a newsletter just doesn't sound as enticing.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

I had a newsletter for my YA/NA series but slowly phased it out once the series ended.

Anonymous said...

Keeping up with it all is hard. Thanks for sharing some valuable information.

Christine Rains said...

Happy Valentine's Day to you too! Great guest post from Crystal. I still need to get around to doing a newsletter... when I have more news to share!

Nana Prah said...

Thanks for you fantastic advice, Crystal. How do you find the time? Congrats on the release of Moonless.
Cary Grant would be one smooth man to have married, Tara.

Heather M. Gardner said...

Great post!
Thanks for the mention!

I had a great time checking out the answers!

A newsletter might be in the future when I have more to say. :)


Unknown said...

Ahahah!! I love that Christine and Sheena put Snape. That's awesome. =-)

And thanks for the great newsletter tips.

Happy Valentines Day

Crystal Collier said...

Pk, I hope they help when you get around to it.

Trisha, it terrified me at first too, but really, it's not so scary. =)

Sheena--I'ts about the balance, eh?

Christine, I'm surprised you haven't started one.

Nana, between blog posts. ;)

Robin said...

Woohoo on the sale for Pop Travel!

Crystal... thank you for the newsletter information. I really had no idea it was so effective as a tool.

Carrie-Anne said...

A newsletter is a great idea. I worked at a local newspaper for almost 5 years, so I probably could bring my experience in typesetting and layout to making my own potential newsletter. I could also be more creative with design and content than the newspaper. My editor agreed that I had some good suggestions for improving appearance and increasing readership, but said that most of our subscribers were old and wouldn't like a really modern format or unexpected change.

Dana said...

Those are some awesome answers!

Have a great Valentine's Day weekend, Tara. ☺

Fida Islaih said...

I need to bookmark this! I really need it as I just started a newsletter.

Cathrina Constantine said...

Whoa, Tara, your hubby resembles Matt Damon?! You are a lucky Lady! Happy Valentines Day!

Elizabeth Seckman said...

Oh yeah...I've got my daydreams. LOL

Excellent info Crystal. Tackling the newsletter is one of my goals. I'll probably come whining to you!

Unknown said...

Elizabeth Seckman has good taste. Chris Hemsworth is a definite "YUM!" I have a follow-by-newsletter on my blog's sidebar, but stupid blogger won't let me have access to the subscription list. Grrrr.

J.L. Campbell said...

Lots of great info here, Crystal. Makes me wanna sit down and write another newsletter.

Chrys Fey said...

Thank you for mentioning me, Tara! I'm bookmarking this for when I have to create a newsletter. :) Great info!

Heather R. Holden said...

Great tips, Crystal! Putting a newsletter together sounds like a lot of work. Not sure I'd have the time or patience for it!

Jessie Humphries said...

A newsletter?! I never really considered doing one for myself. Maybe I should! Thinking....

DMS said...

Great post! I enjoyed seeing the collection of some of the arranged marriages- I caught a lot of them, but I missed some.

Crystals's post was very helpful. I love Mailchimp because it is so easy to use. I am always learning more, so hearing from someone else with a newsletter was awesome. Thanks for sharing!


Kimberly said...

It was so fun reading everyone's choices during the blog hop!

This is a fabulous post on newsletters! Thank you Tara and Crystal!

Anonymous said...

I'd like to have a newsletter one day. I just never really planned out what kind of monthly content I'd have, but this gave me ideas.

Kim Van Sickler said...

OMG, the gal publishes a newsletter too? Crystal is such a go-getter. I have the utmost admiration for her. And great idea, Tara, chronicling responses to the Moonless blogfest. I see we both like the old-fashioned, classical guys. :-)

Sherry Ellis said...

It was fun reading everyone's choices for arranged marriages! I seriously want to know how Crystal has time for a newsletter on top of everything else!

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