Updating eBooks

This is a behind-the-scenes post, since things have been pretty quiet on this blog lately. It’s busy in my office!

As you know, I write contemporary romances and paranormal romances as Deborah Cooke, and historical romances as Claire Delacroix. This year, I amalgamated my PNR websites into this one, leaving me with two websites instead of four, which means the urls for all the book landing pages changed. I also moved my three English newsletters to a new service, which meant the sign-up links changed. Both of these changes meant updating my ebook interiors with the new links.

My historical romances have been in KDP Select since last fall, so I did the updates only at Amazon. My PNR went into KDP Select in the spring, so again, I did the updates only at Amazon. Now (haha) the books are coming out of KU and going into wide distribution again, which means updating the ebook files at the other portals. I load directly to Apple, KOBO, GooglePlay, Nook, Draft2Digital, Smashwords and PublishDrive. I also sell some books directly with delivery via BookFunnel. That’s 7 or 8 uploads per title. Some portals process uploads quickly. Some take forever to chew through each one.

In August, 22 of my medieval romances came out of KDP Select and were republished wide. There’s a blog post about that on the Delacroix site, right here.

In September, 22 more of my Delacroix romances (medievals, time travels and boxed sets) come out of KDP Select to be republished wide. The one hold-out will be The Beauty Bride, which leaves KDP Select in October. (It was enrolled later.) I’ve already updated the files at most portals and just need to republish them when the time comes—with the exception of the time travels, which will get new covers first.

In October, 45 of my paranormal romances and boxed sets come out of KDP Select and will be republished wide.

Also in October, the Spanish editions of 15 contemporary romances come out of KDP Select and will be republished wide. These are delivered to the non-Amazon portals from an aggregator, Draft2Digital, so that will save me some uploading time.

The Countess, book #4 of the Bride Quest series of medieval romances by Claire Delacroix

Taking the books wide again also means setting first-in-series free and booking promotions for it. The Countess is free this month, and by November, The Beauty Bride will be a free series starter for my historical romances again. Also by November, Kiss of Fire will be a free series starter for my PNR. Of course, Just One Fake Date remains a free series starter for my contemporary romances. I’ll probably book a sale on the two bundles of series starters, First Knights and Dragons First, as well. As I write this, I realize that Claire didn’t have a new trope boxed set this year. Oops. I’ll add that to my To Do list.

But by November (when I stop to catch my breath!) over 100 of my backlist books will have beautifully updated interiors at all of the portals and some will even have new covers. At the end of the year, I’ll be able to unpublish the two paranormal romance websites, and discontinue my former newsletter service. It’s been a big transition and is a job I’ll be glad to see done.

Next year, I’ll be able to focus on writing, which is the most exciting part of all!

Dragons & Angels Newsletter

Phase 2 of my transition to a new newsletter service is done – the dragons have moved. There’s a new sign-up page, a new sign-up bonus read and a new welcome sequence for my monthly Dragons & Angels newsletter.

The first Dragons & Angels newsletter from the new service will be sent on April 13.

Now, on to those knights…

Here’s the sign-up link for Dragons & Angels, in case you don’t already subscribe.

And here’s the sign-up link for Heroes & Happy Endings, my monthly contemporary romance newsletter. If you sign up now, you’ll get your first email on March 23.

A Mistake

On Friday, I made a mistake and have the email replies to show for it. I set up my first contemporary romance newsletter for Spanish editions of my books and, instead of sending it to the Spanish newsletter subscribers, I sent it to the English newsletter subscribers.


This is actually a bit too easy to do with a suite of newsletters like mine. In a newsletter service account, the subscribers are all in one pool, so to speak. They’re divided into groups: any subscriber can belong to multiple groups or just one group. Subscribers are added to groups in different ways: for my lists, the subscribers choose to subscribe to a list. That’s the only way they get added – I never ever add people to my list without their consent, or add subscribers to different lists than the one(s) they’ve chosen. So, the newsletter service puts subscribers in the right group, based on the sign-up form they used or the link they followed. That all makes sense, doesn’t it?

For example, Heroes & Happy Endings is the newsletter for my Deborah Cooke contemporary romances in English. If you follow that link and sign up, you’ll be added to that group for my contemporary romances in English.

You could also subscribe to the newsletter for my historical romances, or the one for my paranormal romances, or for any of those in specific languages for which I have translations. You could have signed up for a guided toour of the Ravensmuir books, which is a newsletter sequence for my historical romance readers. There are a lot of groups on my newsletter dashboard and many subscribers belong to more than one.

Last week, I ticked the box for the Spanish contemporary romance readers group, but I didn’t un-tick the box for the English contemporary romance readers group. It was ticked because I copied the English newsletter to make sure the Spanish one was consistent, then changed out all the copy and links and images – but not the recipient list. It was that easy. I couldn’t call back the emails but I fixed the setting for future Spanish newsletters.

But here’s the wrinkle: if you thought you had been added to another newsletter list without your consent, you might have clicked on the Unsubscribe button at the bottom of the Spanish email. That would be a reasonable thing to do – except it won’t quite work out the way you might have expected. Because the newsletter went to the wrong list, if you unsubscribed from that Spanish newsletter Friday or Saturday, you actually unsubscribed from the English newsletter list. I know. It was a simple error with quite spectacular ramifications.

So this post is just to let you know – if you unsubscribed this past weekend in response to that newsletter, you won’t get any more English newsletters unless you sign up again.

Look up, way up, for that sign-up link.

A New Exclusive Bonus for Subscribers

Subscribe to Deborah Cooke's Dragons & Angels monthly newsletter and receive a free 3-book bundle exclusive to subscribersI’ve added a new subscriber bonus for my monthly paranormal romance newsletter, Dragons & Angels.

Subscribe to my paranormal romance newsletter, Dragons & Angels, for my monthly news and get a free 3-book bundle exclusive to subscribers!

If you’re already a subscriber, there will be a download link in this month’s newsletter, which goes out next week.

A Newsletter Takeaway from NINC

Newsletter Ninja by Tammi LaBrecqueAt the beginning of this month, I attended the Novelists Inc annual conference. It was held at St. Pete’s Beach, as usual – I shared some impressions when I got home, right here – and as usual, I had a huge To Do list as a result of the many excellent workshops.

I also had a couple of new books to read. The first (and the one I’m going to talk about today) is Newsletter Ninja by Tammi LaBrecque.

I really like this book. Not only do her strategies make sense, but implementing the suggested strategies shows quick results. What’s not to like about almost-instant gratification?

Here’s one thing I changed after reading this book and the difference it made. My newsletter list was already divided into three groups, separating readers by the sub-genre they prefer to read: Heroes & Bad Boys is for my Deborah Cooke contemporary romances; Dragons & Angels is for my Deborah Cooke paranormal romances; and Knights & Rogues is for my Claire Delacroix historical romances. There’s a sign-up form in each ebook, guiding readers to the appropriate group, and offering a free read in that sub-genre. There are also sign-ups on my various websites, guiding readers to the appropriate newsletter, and also on my Facebook pages. Before reading this book, my welcome message to my newsletter list was a single message. That all seemed very straightforward, but I’ve been mystified by one detail for a while.

Only 67-70% of new subscribers opened that welcome email message, which meant that roughly 30% of them never got the free book. Since this was supposedly the reason they signed up, I thought that was weird. Also, you can see that a lot of people who opened the message didn’t click to take the free book:

Deborah Cooke's newsletter onboarding open rates before Newsletter Ninja

So, there are two obvious questions here:
1. Why sign up for the newsletter to get a free book and not open the welcome message?
2. Why open the welcome message and not click on the link for the free book?

The answer to the first question might simply be that the email was in the spam folder and the recipient didn’t see it. I already had a note asking the subscriber to add my domain email to their email address book, which should white-list it. (That’s the email that sends the newsletter and white-listing it should keep messages from that address out of the recipient’s spam or Promotions folder.) But it still looked as if a significant percentage of people either weren’t receiving or weren’t finding that first message. I followed the advice of Newsletter Ninja and added steps to the welcome message, which should add verification to my email address and validate my sending to each recipient. I also asked two more times for them to white-list the address. It felt like nagging to me, but you’ll see that it worked.

All or Nothing, book #4 of the Coxwell series of contemporary romances by Deborah CookeThe answer to the second book is more interesting to me. What if the reader didn’t want the free book? For Heroes & Bad Boys, I offer another contemporary romance, All or Nothing, as a free read. But after reading Newsletter Ninja, it occurred to me that a subscriber who had read one of the Flatiron Five books might not be interested in reading one of the Coxwell books. That’s two different series and while I think there are similarities, I’m definitely asking readers to invest in another world of characters with this offering – and if they’re subscribing to the newsletter after reading Simply Irresistible, book one in the series and a free read, then they want more F5, not something else.

Clearly, I should be tracking which book or series each new subscriber was reading when he or she clicked the newsletter link, and I should be offering bonus content that the reader will already find interesting.

This is a HUGE takeaway for me.

I implemented a whole bunch of changes simultaneously. In fact, in the screenshot above, I’d already made one – below, I’ll talk about the new sequence I created for readers of Simply Irresistible, but in the screenshot above, I’d already tagged the readers signing up everywhere else as “Organic”. Right now, I don’t have any other promotions running to build my contemporary romance subscriber list. All subscribers are organic i.e. they’re following newsletter sign-up links in my ebooks, on my websites or from my Facebook pages. Having them tagged that way is a great suggestion, as organic subscribers tend to be the most enthusiastic – I’ll be able to sort subscribers based on source in future.

Simply Irresistible, a contemporary romance by Deborah Cooke and first in the Flatiron Five series.Now, on to my experiment. As my test, I created a new onboarding sequence that was only for Simply Irresistible, my free first-in-series title and the funnel for new readers to find my books.

The sign-up link exists only in the book interior of Simply Irresistible. It offers a different free read, chosen specifically for the readers of that book. (In that story, the heroine, Amy, writes a book. There are excerpts from “her” book in the story, but they’re taken from an actual book, written by another author. We had this brilliant joint promotion plan, which didn’t work. :-/ She has since left publishing, so has graciously agreed to let me offer her book to my readers as a bonus read.) This sign-up feeds into a different group and a different (longer) onboarding sequence, as suggested in Newsletter Ninja.

Fear not – if you’re already signed up for my Heroes & Bad Boys newsletter, you’ll have the chance to download this content free in November. Existing subscribers won’t be missing a thing!

I was very excited to see immediate results – these are from the new onboarding sequence on its first day in action:

Deborah Cooke's newsletter open rate on new onboarding sequence, thanks to Newsletter NinjaReaders opened! They clicked! There is nothing to click on in the first email, so that 0% is to be expected. The link for the free read is in the second email, and we can see that everyone opened, then most people clicked. I used BookFunnel to deliver the free read – I created a unique link for people on this onboarding sequence – and saw there that 8 people had downloaded the book file when this screenshot was taken.

Triumph! There aren’t very many people in this stream yet, but I’m very encouraged by results from the first day of these changes being in place. Who doesn’t like instant gratification?

I’m going to create more new onboarding sequences, keyed to my free reads and funnel books first, then divide my lists again into smaller groups to offer something custom to readers of each series. This strategy probably means creating new bonus content, but I’ll offer it to my existing readers, too.

And then, there are changes to be made to the newsletters themselves…I have a lot of work to do, but am excited about it. With the results coming this quickly, I know that doing the work will vastly improve my open rates and my interaction with my readers over the next year.

I’ll post an update on using these strategies in six months. April 25. Be here.

I think Newsletter Ninja is a terrific book. If you run a newsletter and haven’t read it, maybe you should. 🙂