New Series Mailing Lists

I’ve been creating some new automated sequences in my mailing list.

Addicted to Love, a contemporary romance by Deborah CookeDon’t worry if you don’t know what that means. Two months ago, I didn’t know either. This is a pretty cool thing. An automated sequence is a series of emails that are set up to be delivered in order, and are triggered by some action. My first automations were added in November and are “onboarding” sequences. These two automations welcome new subscribers to my newsletter with a series of four emails. The emails talk about my books and series, tell where to find me on social media, etc. An onboarding sequence familiarizes new subscribers to bring them onboard. It’s an “automation” because once it’s set up, it just rolls. It doesn’t matter when someone subscribes to the list, their email is added to the onboarding sequence whenever they do subscribe. Twenty-four hours later, they’ll get the first email. The second, third and fourth are delivered at seven day intervals, then those new subscribers are added to my main newsletter list. There are two different sequences which are slightly different based upon what link the new subscriber uses to sign up for the list.

How cool is that?

Wyvern's Warrior, #3 in the Dragons of Incendium series of paranormal romances by Deborah CookeWell, it gets even better. Once I had my feet wet, so to speak, I decided to add some sequences for people who shop in my online store, to follow up on their purchases. I’ve been trying to figure out how to make this work for a while – the store has the ability to follow up, but allows a single follow-up for all purchases and products. I wanted the follow-up to be specific to whatever the customer downloaded. If, for example, you download the sample of Wyvern’s Warrior, it makes sense that you’ll be most interested in the full book of Wyvern’s Warrior. The Selz people helped me to figure out a way to do that, by using a new integration with a service called Zapier.

Now, I can set a specific sequence to trigger on any product. Ha! I’ve grouped the products into series and created new mailing lists for each series of books. The idea here is that you might not want to read all my news every month to learn what you want to know. You might not even want to read all my paranormal romance news. You might just want to know when the next Dragons of Incendium story is available—either for you to download a sample or for you to buy.

The Crusader's Bride, a medieval romance by Claire DelacroixAnd here’s the super-cool bit—you might even be interested in getting it on sale. One of the wonderful things I can do in my online store is create a discount and offer it to specific people. The discount is targeted, rather than being available to everyone who shops at Amazon, for example. On these series lists, subscribers are being offered discounts on the books in the series, either in digital or in print editions. It stands to reason that the subscribers on the list might be interested, since the only way to get on one of the lists is to download a sample from that series or buy one of the books in my online store.

If you’ve downloaded samples for Flatiron Five or the Dragons of Incendium series, you’ve probably received at least the beginning of one of these automated sequences already. I’ll be adding more series lists in the new year – next will be the Champions of St. Euphemia.

If you want to be added to the series newsletter lists, all you need to do is download a free sample of one of the included books. You can find all the book samples in my online store right here.

If you have any troubles with the sequence, suggestions for improvement or comments about it, please let me know!

New Tricks

In a constantly changing market, there are always new marketing methods to explore. Some work, some don’t. Most work for some authors and genres, and not so well for others. There’s really only one way to find out for sure – experimentation. This week, we’re not only having Wild West Thursday on Wednesday, but we’re taking a look at my newest experiments.

The Beauty Bride, first book in the Jewels of Kinfairlie series of medieval Scottish romances by Claire DelacroixThe first one isn’t that new. I tried out a couple of multi-author promotions last summer and found them to be a both fun and effective. Free books have lots of downloads in these promotions, probably because they’re exposed to a lot of readers who don’t already know your work. I think these promotions are a good way to get more exposure for a free title that introduces readers to an author’s work and/or a specific series. I’ve signed up for a few more of them for November, for The Beauty Bride and Double Trouble.

One of the terms for participating in these promotions is always that each author shares the promotion with his or her followers, in order to spread the word. That’s the point, really, to expose the landing page to more people. So, you’ll be seeing more of these promotions posted here and will receive notices of them if you subscribe to my newsletter. I’m booked into four this month, although news of two of them will ride in the already scheduled newsletters for my November releases. Some of them are sorted by genre or sub-genre, and I’m curious to see how that affects results.

Wyvern's Prince, #2 in the Dragons of Incendium series of paranormal romances by Deborah CookeMy second experiment is a new thing: I’m trying out a service called Instafreebie, which delivers free books to readers. You can find The Beauty Bride and Double Trouble there, at least until November 20. (The titles are linked to the IF giveaway page.)

At first glance, this service wouldn’t seem to add anything beyond having the book free in my online store or at various portals, but IF gives people the option of opting into the author’s newsletter. My online store does that, but the various portals don’t.

Simply Irresistible, a contemporary romance by Deborah Cooke and first in the Flatiron Five series.IF also offers the option of offering a free read to specific readers – to set up advance reading copies, for example, or to reward regular readers and newsletter subscribers with a bonus read free. This offers more control over pricing and the availability of a free read. I noticed authors using it for sneak peeks and samples of upcoming books, too. IF has a special category for excerpts, which should help to avoid any confusion for readers. I’ve added my medieval romance sampler, Knights & Rogues, to IF as well as the sample file of the first chapter of Simply Irresistible, the sample files of the first chapter of Wyvern’s Mate and Wyvern’s Prince.

The third bonus of IF is that they feature books and promotions on their own site and blog, and there are many, many (MANY) multi-author promotions that are set up to feature IF titles. Several of the promotions I’m participating in during the month of November are of this type. I like when authors work together for everyone’s advantage, so am excited about these promos.

Finally, my theory is that IF will offer the opportunity to get new visibility for a free title on an ongoing basis. In the past, a free title might stick on the bestseller list for a particular genre or sub-genre at any given portal, which would provide visibility for it. As more and more books enter the marketplace and more authors use a free series opener to find new readers, this is a less reliable strategy. Free books spike and drop on the lists, just like paid books do, and once the free book drops below a certain point, it’s not achieving the goal of aiding in discovery. I’m curious to see whether this works better.

If you’re an author and would like to try Instafreebie, you can follow this referral link to sign up and put a little $ in my budget for telling you about it. 🙂

Knights Dragons and Heroes, Welcome to Deborah Cooke (and Claire Delacroix)'s newsletter.
My third experiment is one that I find geeky but cool. I set up an onboarding sequence for my newsletter, using the automation feature at my newsletter service provider. An onboarding sequence is a series of emails that welcomes new subscribers to the list, orients them with regard to the product or service (in this case, my book series and author brands) and engages with them. The idea is that they’ll be more likely to remain subscribers with this kind of a welcome transition. Does that work? I have no idea but am intrigued.

I set up a sequence of four emails (actually there are several series of four emails, which vary based upon how the person subscribed to the newsletter). It’s set up to give them an overview of my books and series, as well my social media, but divided into stages. Even better, the newsletter service offers many nifty stats and graphs of who’s opening what and which links are being clicked. It’s just a trickle of activity now, which is how I wanted to start, but will start to cast more results as these promotions run and more readers step into the stream. The sequence began to run on the 29th of October, so if you subscribed after that date, you’ll receive the emails. You could also subscribe to my newsletter right now if you haven’t already. As a side bonus of doing this, I found a new template in my newsletter service which I like better than the one I was using, so my newsletter has also gotten a fresh new look.

There are the new tricks and some treats from my end for November. Do you subscribe to any newsletters with onboarding sequences? Do you like them? Do you find new authors with free reads? Where do you find free reads?

Newsletter Changes

As most of you know—or at least I hope you do!—I publish a monthly newsletter. It includes announcements of new and upcoming releases, cover reveals, as well as sales, promotions and booksignings. It has free content for subscribers in some issues, and contests or giveaways for subscribers in others.

I’ve been using one newsletter service for a few years now, ever since I stopped using YahooGroups for my newsletter. I like the portal. The newsletters are pretty and easy to design. The company offers good customer support. I’ve been thinking that they’re a bit expensive compared to other service providers, and as my subscriber list is easing toward another threshold (and price increase) hmm, I decided it’s time for a change.

So, I’m now in the midst of migrating my newsletter to another service. This is more of an issue for me than for you – in fact, it should be pretty much invisible to you. Subscribers will still get a newsletter every month, and it will probably look pretty similar. It’ll have the same combination of news. It’ll have a different footer, because the service puts its logo there, but that’s not a big deal. The newsletter will still come from my email newsletter@deborahcooke.com

The thing that you might notice is that the sign-up forms have changed. In fact, I’ll have sign-ups from both service providers for a while yet, as part of the transition, and also because they offer different features. I really like the pop-up here on the website from my current newsletter service, so I’m keeping it. The links on the Newsletter tab on the menu bar, though, go to the new service. Plus there are the old sign-up forms in the backs of my digital books. Until all of the endmatter is updated and the new versions published, those links will keep working. Each month, I’ll just migrate any new subscribers on the old list to the new one, so everyone will get the newsletter.

The main difference for subscribers is that I’m going to eliminate the Choose Your News feature of my newsletter. This has nothing to do with the two services and their functionality. It just seems like a good time to review what’s working and what isn’t. I thought there might be some of you who only read one part of my work, and that those readers might only want to hear about new releases etc. in that sub-genre. Well, maybe that’s not true, or maybe you just all like to know everything! Only about 2% of subscribers opted to receive a sub-set of my news every month, so we’ll return to everyone getting all the news. 🙂

The new sign-up is here, in case you haven’t subscribed to my monthly newsletter yet.

Newsletter Subscriptions

I’ve scrubbed my newsletter subscriber list this past weekend. If you had subscribed but have not opened any of the last TEN newsletters, then you’re no longer subscribed. it doesn’t make sense to send newsletters, even digital ones, to people who don’t want them.

OTOH, it might be that you subscribed, but your ISP thought the newsletter was spam. I send a newsletter every month, so you’ll know if you subscribed and didn’t get one. If you subscribed to my newsletter but received one, then please subscribe again, right here. Ypu’ll want to be signed up, especially now that I have my online store, as I’ll be making special offers to readers there as well as the usual monthly news, and those offers will only be announced in the newsletter.

I would also suggest that you add my email address to your address book so that your ISP realizes you know me – the newsletter comes from chestwick@sympatico.ca

Newsletter List Management

Oh, that sounds serious, doesn’t it? Well, I’ll try to not be boring about it all.

Once upon a time, I attended a workshop about maintaining a healthy newsletter distribution list. It was pretty interesting and the speaker made a number of good points (sorry, but I forget her name!). I came home with a fistful of notes and filed them away for One Day.

That day has arrived. My newsletter subscription rate has grown (yay!) to a very nice level, but there are people who don’t ever open a newsletter. Maybe they forgot that they subscribed, or maybe they changed their mind about reading my news.

This speaker suggested that if a subscriber doesn’t open three newsletters in a row, they should be dropped from the list. Anyone can be too busy to open one (and then forget about it) but leaving three unopened—to her thinking—means the subscriber probably isn’t interested and can’t be bothered to unsubscribe. I think she’s probably right. I do that very thing – subscribe to things, never open the newsletter but never unsubscribe either.

I didn’t think much of her advice until I recently reached the threshold that I need to pay for the distribution. Oh! The cost isn’t much and I don’t mind paying it, but it will add up if there are thousands of people who don’t even open the newsletter because they don’t want it. Paying for the distribution of newsletters that people don’t want is just dumb.

So, tomorrow, my monthly newsletter will go out and I’ll begin to divide the list into those who open the newsletter and those who don’t. (Computers make this all so very easy.) If you want to stay subscribed to my newsletter, all you have to do is open it. If you want to unsubscribe, I’ll be sorry but I understand that tastes change and emailboxes get filled to bursting. There are seldom enough hours in the day to get things done. You can always resubscribe if you change your mind. 🙂