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Anne R. Allen's Blog


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Anne writes funny mysteries and how-to-books for writers. She also writes poetry and short stories on occasion. Oh, yes, and she blogs. She's a contributor to Writer's Digest and the Novel and Short Story Writer's Market for 2016. 

Her bestselling Camilla Randall Mystery Series features perennially down-on-her-luck former socialite Camilla Randall—who is a magnet for murder, mayhem and Mr. Wrong, but always solves the mystery in her quirky, but oh-so-polite way.

Anne lives on the Central Coast of California, near San Luis Obispo, the town Oprah called "The Happiest City in America."

Anne blogs at Anne R. Allen's Blog...with Ruth Harris 
and at Anne R. Allen's Books

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Why Social Media is Still Your Best Path to Book Visibility

by Anne R. Allen

A lot of marketing gurus are advising authors to cut back on blogging and social media and go back to the email marketing of the last decade.

"The author with the biggest mailing list wins," has become a mantra with self-publishing gurus.

Go to most blogs and websites these days and you'll be assaulted by a pop-up window that demands you subscribe to a newsletter before you even get to see if the site has content you're interested in. (I'm glad to see that book marketing guru Frances Caballo agrees with me about how obnoxious those pop-ups are.)

Some vendors won't even let you get a glimpse of their merchandise unless you surrender your email address for spamming purposes. These companies are paying big money for advertising, just for the privilege of slamming their cyber-doors in the faces of potential customers. (Because who cares if you make any sales, right? What's important is helping the pop-up cartel take over the world!)

I assume they are following advice from the same marketers who tell authors to stockpile the addresses of everybody we've ever brushed electrons with in order to spam them with daily tips, interviews, recipes, and "calls to action" (buy my book, review my book, why haven't you reviewed my book, pre-order my next book, and seriously, why haven't you reviewed my book?)

This is because, they keep insisting, "spam newsletters sell more books ."

These experts must have access to statistics I don't. But until I see proof, I'm not dropping my blog for a clunky old newsletter.


Because I hate getting newsletters. And I like to follow that Golden Rule thing.

Are Emails More Effective than Social Media?

The "biggest email list" contest has led to a tsunami of emailed crap. And mostly the people getting the emails are other authors—the people least likely to have time to read them.

My inbox is stuffed every morning with more and more emails I never subscribed to from authors I've never heard of in genres I don't read. Some of them send me three or four copies at the same time.

I can't delete and unsubscribe fast enough. But it now takes me at least an hour just to delete emails every morning and evening.

That's time I could spend actually reading a book.

Unfortunately, many of them don't even have an unsubscribe button, so I have to write the author personally and ask to be deleted from the list.

Here's a quote I recently saw on Facebook from UK author Vivienne Truffnell:

"I got an email, a promotional email in fact, from someone I have zero recollection of knowing a thing about. On the small print, it said, "you're getting this newsletter because you have either interacted with me on my blog or on social media."

Well, as far as I am concerned, using my email address when I might have made a random comment on a random blog post is not fair usage. Mining that sort of data is simply going to annoy. Unless I actually deliberately choose to sign up for a newsletter, sending me such a thing is akin to shoving leaflets down my cleavage because I merely smiled at you in the street."

Vivienne's not the only one who's tired of the newsletter oversharing. Author/Editor/Speaker Roz Morris recently posted a "Manifesto for a sustainable, ethical and rewarding online life."

Her number one rule?

"You don't have to bribe me to sign up for your newsletter. If I enjoy your tone and style, I'll sign up."

And my co-author of How to be a Writer in the E-Age and Amazon superstar, Catherine Ryan Hyde,  minces no words when talking about her dislike of newsletters:

"For years I've been encouraged to keep an email list of readers, but I have always refused. I feel that emailing you to tell you I have a new book out is spamming you. So, though you give me your email address for the purpose of giveaways, I don't save those addresses or use them for any other purpose. I put news on my website, on my blog, and on my social media pages, so you know where to find it. If you want it."

And this attitude hasn't hurt her sales one bit. She is consistently one of the top authors on Amazon. There are weeks when she outsells Stephen King and J.K. Rowling.

Why I Like Blogs Better than Newsletters

I realize we are at odds with all the "experts" here, but why are people so sure a newsletter is more useful than a blogpost? I have a feeling it's one of those marketing fads—like those loathsome pop-ups—that have more to do with a sheep-like herd instinct than actual sales figures.

Logic would say blogs are better.

  • You can't comment on a newsletter. It's static and non-interactive.
  • You can't tweet or share a newsletter. I sometimes read a great piece in a newsletter and look all over and can't find a way to share the information with anybody except by forwarding it to a handful of people. 
  • A newsletter is often a PDF, which has to be downloaded to your hard drive and may harm your computer. (Or so a pop-up tells me every time I do.)
  • You can subscribe to a blog just as easily as a newsletter.
  • A stranger can't stumble upon your newsletter. It doesn't bring in new readers

I do subscribe to newsletters, but I've subscribed to them since before I'd even heard of blogs. I get Publisher's Lunch and read it carefully every day, and that's officially a "newsletter." Plus I been getting C. Hope Clark's Funds for Writers newsletter for years. She's one of my sources for contests for the "opportunity alerts" here, and her articles are top-notch. But I'm disappointed when I can't share them.

I also get Elizabeth S. Craig's newsletter because she's a huge help to other writers and she only sends mailings about four times a year when she has a new book out. Plus there's always a yummy recipe.

I also get my local "Nightwriters" writing club newsletter and the one from my local chapter of Sisters in Crime because it has news about my friends.

But I subscribe to at least five times as many blogs as newsletters. I don't have to download them or wade through them to get to the good stuff. Most blogposts have one main subject per post, although they also make a mention of author news or a new release.

Yes, obviously some authors manage to maintain both a blog and a newsletter, but I don't know how. Personally, I like to reserve a little time every day (miniscule as it may be) for writing those book things. I'll bet you do too.

When Email Marketing Does Work Better than Social Media. 

So should you jump on the "party like it's 1999" email newsletter bandwagon?

Newsletters are good for some things. I'm not quite as fierce as Catherine about them and I think it's okay to send out an announcement when you have a new release. (As long as readers have specifically signed up for the notice, and you're not releasing new bits of McFiction every week.) But do note that Amazon allows readers to sign up for those notices through them, so you really only have to send notices to your Nook and Kobo readers.

Newsletters are also necessary if your target demographic isn't likely to be on social media. If you write for the very old or the very young, you may find email (or even a snail-mailed postcard) provides a better way to reach them.

Some of my fellow Boomers stare at me with a mixture of terror and scorn when I mention I'm a blogger. 

"I wouldn't know how to read a blog," they say. Or "I have no idea what that means." Or "the Internet is just a passing fad." Or "saddle up old Bessie. I don't need one of them new-fangled auto-mobiles."

Okay, I got carried away with that last one. 

But clearly, those are people who need newsletters. 

And if you're selling children's picture books or even chapter books, a lot of your customers are probably bookstore owners and librarians, and they may not be much for social media either. And your "age three-to-five" pre-readers are probably not following you on Twitter. 

There are also people who really, truly hate to blog. If you find a blog is too public and you only want to communicate privately with a small group, then email will better suit your needs. 

But every time you're tempted to send out a newsletter, ask yourself "would I like to find this amongst the other 500 emails in my inbox tomorrow morning?"

Remember you can send out your blog, just like a newsletter. Use a subscription service like MailChimp and they will send out your blog to subscribers as often as you tell them to. You can put anything in your blog that you can put in a newsletter.

But that newsletter isn't going to raise your profile with the general public. You need a blog and other social media for that.

Social Media's Importance in Visibility

I'm not saying we should all be using social media to sell books 24/7.

I often advise authors: don't waste so much time "building platform!". A whole lot of the social media stuff marketers tell you to do is just time-wasting busy-work.

And yes, social media sites can disappear or kick you off for weird violations of unwritten rules, or start charging money for more than a handful of people to see your post.

But unless you're already wildly famous, you need social media.


Because social media gets you into the search engines.

If you're a new writer, your search engine profile should be top priority. You need to get on Google's radar much more than you need to get into the spam folder of somebody who's already bought your book.

Newsletters only reach people who already know you. The people you really want to reach are new readers.

85% of new traffic to this blog comes from Google (and a bit from Bing.) The rest comes from Facebook and Twitter.

Search Engines Matter!

Any agent, editor, translator, audiobook narrator, or book reviewer is going to Google you first—often before they'll even read to the end of your query. Certainly before they request a partial, sample audition script, or a book to review.

What comes up on that Google search will make all the difference.

Yes, of course it's possible to become a successful author without an online presence, the same way it's possible to get hired for a corporate job if you write your resume on parchment and send it by carrier pigeon.

But your chances are a whole lot better if you follow established protocol.

Being on social media takes you out of the confines of your own backyard and puts you into the global marketplace. It makes the difference between hawking your book to people you already know or getting it in front of millions of readers all over the world.

But You Have To Do it Right

Most authors waste much of their social media time. As I have written before, a lot of clueless authors (and their even more clueless advisors) have made Twitter a river of never-ending spam.

Understandably, people are tired of it. And anybody who was told that never-ending spam was going to sell books is getting fed up with social media entirely.

They say: "Twitter is no good for selling books, and therefore a waste of time."

They're right on the first point, but not on the second.

Here is the Big Secret about Social Media:

It is not a direct marketing tool. It is a method of communication.

Kinda like a phone.

A phone can be a useless time-suck if you keep it turned on all the time and check it every five minutes and get into endless conversations about your friends' shopping trips, political opinions, or what they're cooking for dinner.

Does that mean you should abandon your phone? Go back to using the telegraph? Carrier pigeons? Smoke signals?

No, it means you should turn the thing off when you're working. Only check in when you want to engage with people. I usually check in with social media morning and evening. With maybe a quick stop at lunch.

Once you've made social media friends, when you have a new book, a great review or an sale event coming up, tweet and share it to all those people.

Use the 20% - 80 % rule. That means only 20 % of what you put on social media should be about business. The rest is about engaging with people as friends.

Why? Because the business stuff only matters if people care. And they will care because they know you. You're the person who tweeted the link to that great article that helped them get unstuck with the WIP. You're the one who always has the funny Grumpy Cat stuff. You're the one who made a supportive comment the day they got fired or their dog got sick.

Is Twitter a "loud, shallow waste of time"?

There's been lots of complaining about how Twitter is "a loud, shallow waste of time" as Joss Whedon said when he quit Twitter in May. And yeah. It is...a good deal of the time.

But so is your phone, if you only talk to loud, shallow people.

Should you Quit Facebook because it isn't as User-Friendly as it Once Was?

Lots of writers are complaining that Facebook isn't useful anymore because so few people can see your author page posts unless you pay.

But your author page isn't that important. Think of it like an entry in the Yellow Pages of the phone book. It lets people know who you are and what events you have coming up. You can post there a few times a week with some things of interest to your fans. But that's not where you make friends.

You make friends on your personal page. You don't use the personal page to promo your book all the time. Yes, Facebook will now block you if you appear to be using the personal page for mostly business.

But when you're engaging with your readers as friends, not as a "target market," you're not likely to get blocked.

And if you follow the 20%-80% rule, you're fine mentioning your book—even on Facebook. Or steer friends to your author page.

The Most Important Social Media Pages 

  • Are not your personal page
  • Or your author page.
  • Or your Pinterest Pins
  • Or your Instagram photos
  • Or your Twitter, Google Plus, About Me, LinkedIn or whatever profiles
  • Or those endless promotional "event" pages.

They are your friends' pages.

If you visit your friends' pages and make them feel like equals rather than minions, and encourage them through their triumphs and crises, the way you'd like them to do for you, they will reciprocate.

And they might even be interested in reading your next book.

Yeah. That's how social media works. It's, um, social. And as with all social interactions, the best rule is always the Golden one.

And don't feel you have to be on every social media platform there is. Choose the ones where your readers are most likely to be. If you write for younger people, you'll want to be on Instagram or Tumblr. Facebook will more likely reach an older crowd. If you write for women in their 20s-40s, Pinterest may be your most useful venue. If you are interested in tech and marketing, Google Plus is the place to be. (It will also get Google's attention.)

And for some great specific info on how and when to use social media, here's a fabulous list and downloadable "cheat sheet" from Frances Caballo.

What about you, Scriveners? Have you abandoned any social media sites? Are you sending out a newsletter? Do you find it sells more books? I know I've stated some strong opinions here, but I know newsletters must be working for some of you, or the marketers wouldn't be pushing them so hard. If they work for you, how long have you been sending them out? Are they more useful than a blog for you?

Coming up in the Blog: Next week we're going to have a visit from screenwriter and radio talk show host David Congalton to talk about HOW TO BE A GOOD RADIO GUEST. Radio and podcasts are another important way to get your books "visible".

In September, we'll have a visit from Mr. International, indie superstar Mark Williams (aka the quiet half of "Saffina Desforges"), who's going to tell us how to get into the international market and connect with translators. 


It goes up to $3.99 on August 15
It's only on sale in the US and the UK, alas. 
(The Zon's policy, not ours.) 

by Anne R. Allen and #1 Bestseller Catherine Ryan Hyde

Not just for indies, and not just for authors going the traditional route. This is the book that helps you choose what path is right for YOU.

Plus there's lots of insider information on using social media and dealing with critiques, bullies, trolls, and rejection.


The Central Coast Writers Conference. One of the best little Writers Conferences around! You can attend Anne's workshops on How to Write 21st Century Prose and How to Deal with Reviews and even have her critique your work. The inspiring keynote speaker is ZombieLit superstar Jonathan Maberry. September 19-20.

Tom Howard/Margaret Reid Poetry Contest $4,000 in prizes. Entry fee $10 per poem. Submit poems in modern and traditional styles, up to 250 lines each. Deadline: September 30.

Real Simple’s eighth annual Life Lessons Essay Contest FREE to enter, First prize: $3,000 for an essay of up to 1500 words on: "What Single Decision Changed Your Life?" Would your world now be completely different if, at some point in the past, you hadn’t made a seemingly random choice? Deadline Sept 21.

BARTLEBY SNOPES CONTEST   $10 FOR UNLIMITED ENTRIES. Compose a short story entirely of dialogue. Must be under 2,000 words. Your entry cannot use any narration (this includes tag lines such as he said, she said, etc.). These are the only rules. 5 finalists will also appear in Issue 15 of the magazine. Last year they awarded $2,380 in prize money. Deadline: September 15.

Glimmer Train Short Story Award for New Writers  Entry Fee $15. A prize of $1,500, publication in Glimmer Train Stories, and 20 copies of the prize issue is given quarterly for a short story by a writer whose fiction has not been published in a print publication with a circulation over 5,000. Using the online submission system, submit a story of 1,200 to 12,000 words. Deadline: August 31. 

Creative Nonfiction magazine is seeking new essays for an upcoming issue dedicated to MARRIAGE. TRUE STORIES about marriage from any POV: happy spouses, ex-fiancees, wedding planners, divorce attorneys. whoever. Up to 4000 words. $20 Entry fee. $1000 first prize. Deadline: August 31. 

"I is Another" Short Fiction contest FREE! UK's Holland Park Press seeks unpublished short fiction, 2,000 words maximum, inspired by Arthur Rimbaud's famous declaration "Je est un autre" -- "I is another". Write a story in the first person about someone who is not you but which is about a subject close to your heart. Therefore the storyline will really matter to you but the story should not be autobiographical. It should have a strong theme such as betrayal, sorrow, lust, jealousy or revenge.  £200 prize, plus publication Deadline: August 31.

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Blogger Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I don't even do the 20% advertising...
I've often worried that I should've started a newsletter a long time ago. But I had no idea what I would tell people. And it would have to be above and beyond what's on my blog. (Because who wants to read the same thing twice?) But now I don't feel so bad.
Still might start a newsletter for the IWSG though.
Twitter is becoming a bunch of promos and retweets. So few communicate anymore. Which is sad.

August 9, 2015 at 10:16 AM  
Blogger Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

That said, I will definitely be Tweeting this!

August 9, 2015 at 10:17 AM  
Blogger Wm. L. Hahn said...

This is the kind of common sense I've come to expect on the subject, Anne. I wish I'd thought of just about everything you've ever said here.
I'm scoring well on this week's quiz, through sheer indolence. I never picked up the aggressive social media habit, never got around to devising a newsletter, and swore off Twitter (as an epic fantasy guy) as anathema to my entire motif. (I won that last battle, did you notice? Twitter came around and raised the limit.)
It's always been easier for me since writing is the vocation, not the job. I LIKE seeing folks on FB and what they're up to. I'm not skilled enough to Follow blogs or subscribe to newsletters, really, I just hang out each day and see what's happening in the flow. I think I make the 20% rule (again, mostly because I write so slowly!). I can't say I don't annoy folks- I'm too easily drawn into politics and religion. But the annoyance I cause has a chance not to carry over into what I write.

August 9, 2015 at 10:37 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Alex--Actually Guy Kawasaki says it should be 10%/90% for the promo/social interaction ratio. So you might be doing it exactly right.

A newsletter for a group like the Insecure Writers Support Group might make sense. It could be a unifying thing for a large, diverse group. Not the same thing as a sales newsletter.

August 9, 2015 at 10:46 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Will--I like your phrase "aggressive social media habit". I think some authors have got into spammy habits and they're afraid to stop. They don't know if it works, but they're afraid their sales will go down if they drop it.

Social media *should* be fun. If it's not, it's tedious for everybody. You don't need any skills to subscribe to newsletters. Alas, people often subscribe you without even asking. All you have to do is open your email program and there they are. The trick is unsubscribing.

August 9, 2015 at 10:51 AM  
Blogger Linda Maye Adams said...

My marketing largely consists of finding covers that represent the genre and the story; titles that also represent the genre; writing blurbs (which I am still learning how); and then posting a link on my blog and website when the book is available. Then I go work on another project because the only way readers will find me is if I have a lot of books out there. The closet thing to more specific marketing I've done is that I wrote a Pantser's Guide to Writing and published in time to have it available for when the writers start talking about Nano, and hopefully someone will find my book and pass it along.

I've never done book launches, newsletters, or blog tours. Just the blog and the website, and trying to think about what readers want when they read my stories.

August 9, 2015 at 10:51 AM  
Blogger CS Perryess said...

As usual, this is a fine post. I am particularly fond of your "golden rule thing" in terms of emailing people (or contacting them in any fashion). I am definitely clueless in the social media realm (which seems sort of fair, since I'm pretty clueless in any big non-media social gathering). Still, I appreciate gaining an academic understanding of it all from good folks like you.

August 9, 2015 at 10:53 AM  
Blogger Louis Shalako said...

I've never tried email marketing. For one thing, all of my email contacts are from submitting short stories. These are the last people in the world you want to spam. My family is small, I don't have a million friends and very few people use the contact forms on my blogs.

August 9, 2015 at 11:04 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Linda--I think you're right that writing a number of books is the most important step in becoming "visible". Blogging, guest blogging, and even commenting on blogs like this one can be part of your strategy in becoming better known.

Congrats on your new book! I'll check it out! What a great idea to have it out in time for NaNoWriMo! Best of luck with "A Pantser's Guide".

August 9, 2015 at 11:08 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

CS--As I said to Linda, commenting on blogs is part of becoming visible and can be part of your social media strategy. It's a good idea to Google yourself at least once a month to see what comes up. This is the "you" agents and editors will encounter when they check you out. Your own blog may not come up as high on the SERP as comments on big blogs.

August 9, 2015 at 11:12 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Louis--You're right that spamming editors would not be a good plan. :-) And quite frankly, my friends are usually the last people who want to read my books. I've even given a few copies away free to family, but they don't read them. I think they're afraid that anything written by somebody they know wouldn't be worth their time. I call that "Groucho Marxism". LOL .

Commenting on blogs like this is probably getting you more visible than any newsletter. Google notices these things.

August 9, 2015 at 11:16 AM  
Blogger Brant Forseng said...

I read this post with great interest because I had always planned to start an email list, as soon as I figured out what content to provide -- I have a hard enough time coming up with blog posts every two weeks.

Now, however, I don't feel quite the same urgency to "jump on the bandwagon" as I once did.

Regarding Twitter, I post about 80% links to other people's content. The remaining 20% are links to my blog articles or links to artists who've depicted my character. My downfall is engagement and Re-tweeting. I don't do enough.

I cannot believe the number of authors in my Twitter feed who barrage me with "buy my book" tweets. Those get ignored. I don't understand those authors. It's not as if there is any secret about the 20/80 rule (or 10/90 rule).

August 9, 2015 at 12:01 PM  
Blogger mindprinter said...

Great post, Anne. All I can say is this: I sure hope a very good prospective agent who has my nonfiction book proposal now will Google me and see I have a social networking presence. :) You know what I'm talking about. You mentioned this a long time ago and I've been working on making sure I comment and occasionally blog on Goodreads to connect with people I know and are also, like you, "in the know" about all things writing. Thank you again for making my Sunday. Paul

August 9, 2015 at 12:08 PM  
Blogger Melodie Campbell said...

Thank God! It isn't just me. I HATE getting email newsletters. I never read them - never.
In Canada, there is now an anti-spam act. It is illegal to send a newsletter or any promo by email, unless you have the recipient's written permission. So...all those newsletter lists? The ones that people created by simply collecting your email address? This year, authors are having to ask everyone if they may continue to send to them. The default is they may not. If you don't give your express permission, they are doing something illegal sending you a newsletter. And the penalties are pretty steep.

I'm saying a personal yippee to this.
Thanks for this great blog, Anne.

August 9, 2015 at 12:17 PM  
Blogger Melodie Campbell said...

Anne, I'm smiling about your family. Mine expects all books 'free'. And yes - it is a typical case of "you're never a hero in your own hometown."

August 9, 2015 at 12:20 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Brant--I think most authors who don't have mailing lists feel guilty about it. I did for a while, but I honestly don't think it would do anything but steal writing time and annoy my readers. So I think you can let go of the guilt.

I mostly post links, too. When I'm browsing the Web, I hit the Twitter button if I think it would interest other writers. If people respond or want to talk about it, then I engage. But I've got to say I get really annoyed when people reply to the subject of the link, and obviously haven't read it. Those conversations go nowhere.

And all those "buy my book" Tweets get ignored by everybody. Nobody buys a book because somebody tells them to. It has to be a sale or a great review or something besides noise.

August 9, 2015 at 12:23 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Paul--Keeping fingers crossed for the agent to love your proposal! You also have a website with your fiction publisher, and that's important. But commenting on blogs and being published in online journals helps build your "platform" quicker than anything else.

August 9, 2015 at 12:27 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Melodie--That's great news that Canada is protecting its citizens from spam. Maybe the US will catch up at some point.

I think most newsletters are padded with irrelevant stuff because the poor author is desperately trying to follow all the rules and put together a magazine-type publication. Trouble is, everybody has plenty of those already, so it's just one more thing to delete. If it just said "Hey--I've got a new book. It's on sale right now!" that's great. But all the fluff is just spam in the inbox.

August 9, 2015 at 12:30 PM  
Blogger Gigi Wolf said...

Good info, and it confirms what I've come to believe, and learned from an Amazon ebook: An author doesn't need a 'platform'. Social media, newsletters, even blogs, are all a waste of time. Nothing is as valuable as great content, showcased by a professional cover, and a few certain tips he gave in his book. His book is consistently number 1, and he doesn't do any of the other things.

I subscribe to blogs only, too. Your subscription service works, and so do two others. There are a few more I have to remember to check in with, because their service doesn't work.

Regardless, just reading a few posts and leaving a well-thought out comment, takes a lot of time. But, bloggers are told to do this, and in a few cases, like your blog, for instance, I enjoy it. I like keeping up once or twice a week with Facebook, because most of my network are former Pan Amers, and a few others with whom I've made friends.

The advice given to bloggers in particular, is getting tiresome and repetitious; write for 20, promote 80; find a niche, niche, niche; guest post (Ha! You and one other blogger are the only two who've answered my emails), grab emails, blah, blah, blah. I've stopped reading 'helpful' posts of this type.

BTW, I appreciate your lists of contests. I've spent my summer writing hours on at least five or more of these contests. By the time I have them written, I might even have part of my planned memoir done! I won the Jon Morrow contest this summer and was so stoked, I decided to keep on entering contests. It's very motivating,

August 9, 2015 at 12:58 PM  
Blogger Kessie said...

I'm subscribed to three different authors' newsletters because I like their books and I want to know when they come out. They very rarely send anything out, so when one pops into my inbox, I'm pleased.

I have a tiny newsletter sign up, but I don't do pop ups. When I have a book coming out, I give it to my newsletter subscribers for free as a thank you gift. You know, bribes. :-D

I'd rather blog than do any other social media. I can archive my posts and find them years later. Want to find stuff from five years ago on FB or Twitter? Good luck. :-p

August 9, 2015 at 1:14 PM  
Blogger Sasha A. Palmer said...

Thank you for the post, Anne.

I enjoy getting Hope Clark's and Erika Dreifus's newsletters. (Found both through your blog.) Lots of useful info.

But I get many more that are nothing but spam.

I guess if it's done right, it works. But in general the idea of relying heavily on email lists just doesn't seem right to me. The Golden Rule violation.

August 9, 2015 at 1:31 PM  
Blogger The Bigger Picture said...

Really liked your article! When I go to some sites and they flash up their email chart before I have a chance to look at the value of their content I leave on the spot. My thought is if they're going to block me from even reading they're almost saying their precious content is so important I've got to pay the price first by allowing myself to be spammed. Nope! They're not that important. I smile and click away ...Gone forever. :)

August 9, 2015 at 1:46 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Melodie--So true! That's also true in my actual hometown. None of my neighbors--even ones trying to write--will read my blog or my books. I'm just the lady down the street. How could I know anything?

August 9, 2015 at 2:13 PM  
Blogger Barry Knister said...

Anne--Another thoughtful, real-world post, for which I thank you. My hopscotch approach to the Internet is currently inclining me to think that what's going to be more and more important is making e-writing easily available, not to e-readers, but to phones and tablets. Apparently, the wave for e-readers has crested, and more and more people are reading on hand-held devices. But this kind of reading has nothing to do with books that call for attentive, focused readers, so goodbye books for grownups, hello fragments for millenials.

August 9, 2015 at 2:20 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Gigi--I don't think I'd have any readers without this blog. Before social media, my two books with my first publisher just sat there. I'd be lucky if I sold two a month. With this blog, I hit the bestseller list (with one of the same books).

Another thing I did was add my middle initial. Google couldn't find me when I was just "Anne Allen". The two most common middle names in the US are "Ann/e" for women and "Allen/Alan" for men. Sigh.

It's true that a lot of subscription services don't work. The one that comes with Blogger stopped working for me a couple of years ago.

And I disagree with that "niche" advice for author blogs. I'll be writing more about that later this month.

I'm so glad to hear you find the contests useful and congrats on winning Jon's contest! That's awesome.

August 9, 2015 at 2:22 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Kessie--When authors just notify you of a new release, and they aren't cranking out McFiction every week, it can be a big help. (You can also subscribe to notifications of new releases via Amazon.)

Giving your new book free to subscribers probably works to get reviews. But when you get really popular, it might not be cost-effective. :-) But it's a great way to get subscribers!

I agree that blogs are the most useful type of social media--for many reasons. Archives are certainly one of them. FB, Twitter, Instagram, etc--those are only for the moment.

August 9, 2015 at 2:27 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Sasha--I'm so glad you're enjoying Hope and Erika's newsletters. I read Hope every week. But it's almost like a magazine. She even pays her guest writers. I'm glad you agree with me on most newsletters. Spam is spam.

August 9, 2015 at 2:28 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Bigger--I'm 100% with you there. It's like a merchant blocking your way when you try to walk into his store, demanding your phone number. Who would do that? And why? Especially when there's a store right next door where customers are welcomed.

August 9, 2015 at 2:31 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Barry--It's true that the growth is in phone and tablet reading. But that doesn't mean people won't read book length fiction. At least I hope not. Instead I think they'll read short chapters or episodes, like binge-watching TV shows. So shorter chapters that are easy to skim will appeal to them more. (And yes, the skimming part is depressing, but it's the new reality.)

August 9, 2015 at 2:39 PM  
Blogger Debbie said...

You did it again, Anne! You had me chuckling and nodding my head throughout this post, which is one of the reasons I choose to sign up for some blogs (like yours) and not others.

Another benefit to using social media and blogging is that it allows us to actually connect as human beings, rather than spam bots. The author interview blogs I've done have opened up a whole world of connection to like-minded people throughout the globe I'd never have "met" before. That's cool. Besides, as writers, don't we want to write in order to connect with others via our written words? At its best, that's what blogging and social media does.

I'm a Boomer too (yup, and proud of it). I get lots of funny looks from family and friends who ask me why I bother with social media if it doesn't help me sell anything. My answer is simple; Because I care, because I can, and because maybe, just maybe, what we write and share matters to someone else. Heck, it's even free!

Great post. I'm sharing it. 😊

August 9, 2015 at 2:47 PM  
Blogger Sasha A. Palmer said...

What's the title of the e-book by the mysterious "he"? :-) Could you share, please?

August 9, 2015 at 2:56 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Debbie--Thanks for spreading the word!

A lot of our fellow Boomers don't get it. But they may spend all their time doing crafts that they sell for less than the price of the materials :-) so they can get out and meet people at craft fairs. We're doing the same thing with our blogs, only the material is free and we meet lots more people!

I agree that doing interviews on a blog is an especially good way to meet people and also get your own name out there.

August 9, 2015 at 3:04 PM  
Blogger Phyllis Humphrey said...

As I wrote in this week's blog post, I'm an introvert and don't "play well with others." So I write a blog once a week, not a newsletter, and I \m choosy about whose blogs I read and comment on. Thanks for always providing helpful info on yours. I heard about mailing lists a year ago and have exactly two names on mine now. Looks like readers will have to find me via my books.

August 9, 2015 at 4:05 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Phyllis--You found out the sad truth--people don't want to sign up for more spam! They'll sign up for a blog that has good content, because they can look at the blog and sample the content. But a newsletter is a pig in a poke. You have no idea what you're in for. Why sign up?

Thanks for being a regular reader/commenter here!

August 9, 2015 at 4:31 PM  
Blogger Patricia Lynne said...

I tried a newsletter once, but deleted it because I had nothing of interest to share that I didn't share on my blog. I've considered it from time to time and won't rule it out in the future, but I'm holding off right for one reason: I don't read newsletters myself I don't sign up for them and when someone gets my email and starts sending, I unsubscribe. (And I did have someone who signed me up and didn't have an unsubscribe letter. Twice I had to ask her to stop sending them.) I just figure if I don't enjoy them myself then mine might not have the passion in them that my blog posts do.

August 9, 2015 at 5:21 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Patricia--I think your experience is the same as 90% of authors. And like me, you seem to want to follow the Golden Rule. Don't newsletter unto others if you don't want newslettering done to you.

I usually feel really bad when I ask people to unsubscribe, because I know they're working hard on those things, but they just stuff my inbox. Now I have arthritis in my fingers, every delete counts.

August 9, 2015 at 5:28 PM  
Blogger Patricia said...

Always interesting, Anne. And like Debbie said, I laughed while reading this post. You are too funny. What a kick! Thank you for this information. I know when I was starting out in this writing world, I was made to feel that I had to "do it all". Well, I quickly found out that was impossible. I now interact with people on FB. Period. I dropped my blog posts because no one was interested in what I was posting about - animals and endangered species. I'm hoping the release of more books will help me make a "name" for myself. Thanks for this.

August 9, 2015 at 6:16 PM  
Blogger Sarah Brentyn said...

Your entire "Why I Like Blogs Better than Newsletters" section is great. I won't pretend to know much about any of this (though I know more know, thank you) and I've never had a newsletter and I don't sign up for newsletters anymore, but I love this post. Whew. That was all one sentence. Yikes. You make some really good points here, though. Thanks, as ever, for sharing. I'll be looking for your carrier pigeons and smoke signals. Because. That would be fun. :-)

Love this: Twitter is a loud, shallow waste of time...if you only talk to loud, shallow people.

August 9, 2015 at 6:32 PM  
Blogger Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

I do a newsletter, several blogs including my own and Facebook, Facebook groups at times, and a tiny bit of Twitter. My newsletter is about what I've been doing the previous month--family and writing wise--and a bit about what's coming if I think people might be interested. Some of my subscribers write me back like the letter was just to them. I get subscribers when I'm out selling my books--so most are readers. I love Facebook and I almost do it like a diary--what I'm doing--and I respond to lots of people's posts. I do it because I like to do it.

August 9, 2015 at 6:47 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Patricia--There are people who don't "do it all" who are paid handsomely to guilt trip the rest of us... to get us to pay them to do part of it for us. It's all about certain types of marketers justifying their existence, I fear.

You may not have given your blog enough time, or done enough blog visits and guest posts. But writing more (good) books is definitely the real key to success. And patience. Lots of patience.

August 9, 2015 at 8:06 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Sarah--Actually, that was going to be the title of the post, but I thought I should be more positive. :-) Although we should probably never underestimate the power of smoke signals in marketing. I mean, who has proved they don't work? Let's see some recent studies!

August 9, 2015 at 8:08 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

August 9, 2015 at 8:11 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Marilyn--You're a pro and you know how to do it all! I wish I had your energy. Good for you that you know how to reach your demographic and keep them happy!

August 9, 2015 at 8:22 PM  
Blogger venkyiyer58 said...

Thank you. You have just helped me resolve some questions that have been plaguing me in recent days.

August 9, 2015 at 10:52 PM  
Blogger Lisa Ricard Claro said...

And, yeah...I found you through Twitter. :)

August 10, 2015 at 2:52 AM  
Blogger Michelle Dear said...

1/2 (I ran out of characters)

I'm a digital and social media marketing strategist for authors and publishers, so if I get started, I'll never stop. :) I do want to say one thing, however. If anyone puts you on their email list and you haven't subscribed, they have violated the The CAN-SPAM Act of 2003, which is a serious violation. In addition, if there is no unsubscribe option available on their newsletter, that is another violation.

Please take the time to let them know. We do end up being a smaller community the more we know each other, so it can be hard to turn someone in. But if someone absolutely refuses to do so, please don't hesitate to get in touch with me, as I can gently explain technical stuff to laymen well.

Also, I have noticed that authors tend not to have ToS (terms of service) and Privacy Policies on their sties. Guys, you have to have this. It doesn't have to be fancy. Just grab one from any old site out there, customize it for your needs, and pop it out on your wordpress or blogger site.

Honestly, I could write a book on what Anne said, and she's right about a lot of things. There are many ways you can do a newsletter right with the correct target market (your readers--not other authors) in a creative way so that you can fuifill whatever your current goal is, but I won't go into it here for fear of boring you.

In addition, as for Twitter referral traffic to Google, it's actually Twitter traffic to your site that you are getting from Google Analytics--not Google search results. But you can get a boost to Google's SERP if people are clicking through to your site from Twitter links because Google is registering the number of visitors that are visiting your site (as long as they stay there) and considering your content higher value.

I recommend posting to G+ anytime you post to Facebook, because right now, Google still takes that into account for SERP. That may go away soon or in the near future with the breakup of the now disparate parts of G+, but you might as well post to both since we all use automation tools for posting anyway.

As for best times to post, start with recommendations, then use FB insights to find your best times for your audience, and use Twitter analytics to find out which times your audience is on per day. You'd be surprised--I just reanalyzed for one of my publishers yesterday and I was like, 3 am? Anyway...

I always recommend using Twitter for peer and colleague networking, and FB is fantastic for authors because obv, it's an entertainment and social venue, so books are integral. Go for shares, because the more shares you have, it places you higher in the feed with the changes in the algorithm. Don't focus on likes anymore. Engagement is good too, but exposure is what you want, which means shares.

Look at your audience. Look at what they share with their friends. Whatever you share should be a reflection of them--it should connect with them, so that they share. E.g: I don't post publishing articles for our authors, because they aren't going to share those with their audience (readers). I share contextual articles, videos, memes and other visuals I create that have to do with the genres they write in, because it resonates with who they are, and they can share it with their peers and with their readers.

Post twice a day to your FB page. Pick 4 hours once a week. Schedule it all out for the week during that scheduled time (for FB and G+). If you share vids, memes and stuff on Twitter, schedule that too. Then, maybe 10-15 minutes a day, pop on Twitter to talk to a few peers. Pick 1-2 twitter chats to get hte most exposure you can. I get the most leverage out of twitter chats--not posting, not auto "doing anything."

(end 1/2)

August 10, 2015 at 3:57 AM  
Blogger Michelle Dear said...

2/2 (cont'd from above)

And for the love of all that is whatever, please do not autorespond. No matter how much you try to make it sound human, you won't. So take another 10 minutes every day to thank people for follows, include something personal that shows you read their bio, and if you're just starting out and have a small following, thank people for favoriting and thank people for retweets. (I stopped doing all that now because it would take me a thousand years, but when you get to that point, hire someone!)

If you have any questions, just find me on Facebook (Michelle Dear, the one with the pig/bunny cartoon). I'll be more than happy to answer whatever you have. I'm not being promotional. I'm just nice. :)

PS: I did not read this for editing. So if there are problem, I blame lack of coffee.

August 10, 2015 at 3:58 AM  
Blogger Annie Kate said...

That is so true! Even my husband won't read my blog unless I send him a link to a specific post. Some of my real life friends do, but only a few. LOL

I was so pleased to read that I'm not the only one who hates newsletters. The only one I read regularly is Amy Lynn Andrews' UseLetter, and that's one of the first things I do Saturday mornings. I don't even always read the homeschooling newsletter I contribute to!

August 10, 2015 at 5:01 AM  
Blogger Jane Steen said...

I have a newsletter that's meant only for fans of my writing. It's strictly opt-in, I don't bribe people to sign up, and I don't think I'll ever do pop-ups because they annoy me too. I put material in my newsletter that never goes anywhere else, and this is where I offer free books and so on.

It can be hard to build relationships with fans on social media because of the way feeds and timelines work. Most people I know don't follow blogs on a blog reader, as I do, so they have to deliberately check in. So I use blogging and social media to make wider connections, but email to keep in touch with those connections.

August 10, 2015 at 7:25 AM  
Blogger Michael Kelberer said...

Hi Anne,
A lot of good stuff here. My take:
1. Newsletters are not different than "social media" - just another outlet. Just as the "where to engage" rule for Twitter, Facebook etc. is "where are your readers?" - if your readers like newsletters, you should probably do one.
2. Like other social media, there's are really bad way to do newsletters - which you describe quite well :-) Like other social media, if you're going to do it, do it well, which includes "being in conversation" and observing the 90/10 rule.
3. Newsletters do have two things going for them that other forms of social media basically don't: (1) it's a direct communication with a focused audience and (2) it's available for the still large number of readers who don't know how to subscribe to a blog.

And the data don't like - email works, if you do it well.

August 10, 2015 at 7:58 AM  
Blogger Chris Syme said...

Thanks again for the good stuff Anne. I think a lot of authors cultivate a mailing list simply out of fear that someday Amazon might make it difficult for indies to get discovered on Amazon. Their rules change so often, you never know what they're up to. I agree the new "follow"button there should have authors rethinking their newsletter blasts. The problem is, there is no way to know exactly who is following you on Amazon...yet. I think it is worth promoting the button though--maybe in a newsletter. :) Certainly put it in the marketing mix on social.

August 10, 2015 at 9:37 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Ven--I'm so glad to hear this helped!

August 10, 2015 at 10:01 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Lisa--Twitter is very useful when you use it right!

August 10, 2015 at 10:02 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Michele--Thanks for putting an entire primer on Social Media in two blog comments!This is all advice I often give to my readers, but I do it over many blogposts. I also have lots of this information in my book HOW TO BE A WRITER IN THE E-AGE. But this is a great, concise run-down of how to use social media effectively. Thanks!

August 10, 2015 at 10:09 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Michelle--(Sorry I deprived you of one of your "l's" in that last reply)

This is something I hammer people about in nearly every blogpost: DM replies to follows are almost never welcome. And autoreplies are the worst.

August 10, 2015 at 10:13 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Jane--I think once you have a large, established fan base, the newsletter can work (as long as people really sign up for it) But a blog with a subscription service like MailChimp does the same thing, plus it allows new people to discover you.

August 10, 2015 at 10:15 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Michael--There are definitely people who won't go to a blog or a website and don't do social media. I have a neighbor who's in her 80s who only uses her computer for email, so you could only reach her via email newsletter (or snail mail.) So you're right that it depends very much on your demographic.

Technically email isn't "social media" because it's in an email program, not a social site like FB, Twitter, G+ etc. It's an older type of technology. And as you say, some demographics are more comfortable with older technology.

August 10, 2015 at 10:22 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Chirs--That is a very good point I hadn't thought of! Authors are 65%-100% dependent on Amazon for their income. If Amazon suddenly boots us off for a perceived violation, we have no safety net without that mailing list. If you have a mailing list for your blog, it could work the same way (plus the followers in your RSS feed) but we DO want a safety net. So if you don't have a blog, you really do need to have a newsletter mailing list.

August 10, 2015 at 10:26 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Chris--I apologize for the typo in your name! I'm typing with my new arthritis compression gloves and they're making my fingers do all sorts of weird things.

August 10, 2015 at 10:28 AM  
Blogger Chris Syme said...

No worries on the name thing, Anne. :)

August 10, 2015 at 10:37 AM  
Blogger Patricia said...

Another helpful post, Anne ... as per usual. I have learned a great deal from you through the past few years. Thanks so much! I am commenting though, in defence of newsletters. My mailing list consists only of people who have subscribed of their own accord and I receive many personal emails each month after I send the letter out. These are the equivalent of blog comments, I guess. I know my newsletter reaches many more people than my blog and it has a high percentage of "opens". I do write to a boomer-ish demographic and I know many of my readers are not involved in social media. My "unsubscribe" button is highly visible but I have had very few (around 12) people use it. I have new subscribers joining on a regular basis. I don't push marketing but always have a giveaway (usually another author's book), share a recipe along with my photography and information about France. I feel it's my personal connection with people who enjoy my work and I love writing one every month. As you indicate, different strokes for different folks and I thought I would share this with you. For some of us, our newsletter mailing list is a very good thing and, most importantly, respected.

August 10, 2015 at 8:44 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Patricia--Thanks so much for sharing your experience. You have exactly the right target audience for a newsletter and it sounds as if you're doing everything right!

Doing give-aways of other writers' books is wonderful (As long as you can afford it.) You are obviously offering real value with photos and travel info. And you're reaching an audience you might not find on social media.

Personal replies do give a one-on-one connection that may be more powerful than a blog comment. Blog comments create more of a community, since everybody who reads it can join in and read each others' comments. But I know a lot of my Boomer friends find commenting on blogs intimidating, so the email probably works better for you.

Congrats on having such a successful newsletter and thanks for showing us how to do it right!

August 10, 2015 at 9:23 PM  
Blogger Nina Badzin said...

I'm not selling books, but this post still inspired to get rid of any extra (other than one) areas of my blog letting people know they can sign up for the newsletter. It is truly annoying.

I use mailchimp, but it's not automatic. I send one about 3 times a month with the latest happenings on my blog and what I've liked on other sites. I have to craft each one. I find that people don't tend to subscribe to feeds so much anymore. Although I do use bloglovin, which is the best way to keep up with blogs (in my opinion). That's where I clicked on this post!

August 11, 2015 at 6:08 AM  
Blogger Christine Ahern said...

Thank you for this. I am hesitant to sign up for anything for fear of the possible avalanche that could result from my email address getting on just one list that gets shared with the whole world. A bit paranoid? Ha! But, I like opening my email every morning and not having to scroll through crap to find my few favorites. Like yours! My all time favorite.

August 11, 2015 at 8:39 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Nina--I had to have somebody help me sign up for MailChimp and it somehow automatically sends out the blog every Sunday at noon, but I don't know how that was done. I guess you can opt for auto-posting or not.

A lot of blog feeds simply don't work, which is why I think people sign up for email notices instead. I have to admit I hardly ever visit my feed any more. And I haven't figured out how to delete dead blogs from my list. Over half are dead. That may be what turns people off to feeds.

I do think newsletters are fine if people actually sign up for them, and as I said, certain demographics just don't do much online except read email, so that's the only way to reach them. Clicking through to a blogpost feels scary to them. I've had lots of people tell me they're afraid of clicking through to websites because they heard once that's how you get viruses. It's too hard to explain to them the difference between my blog and a scam identity theft site. Those people NEED newsletters.

And it's fine to have a sign-up on your blog. What I don't like are the pop-ups that block your text and even bar anybody from reading the blog who doesn't give up personal information. That feels like bullying to me.

August 11, 2015 at 9:54 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Christine--I'm with you on the avalanches. So many of those sites sell your email address. I used to sign petitions sometimes, if I really cared about the cause. But each petition puts you on dozens of mailing lists. There was a time I was getting 20 emails a day from somebody running for Congress in New England--all begging me for money. I unsubscribed from 100s of political newsletters and stopped signing any kind of petition.

Thanks! I'm glad you like getting my blog notices.

August 11, 2015 at 9:59 AM  
Blogger Tyrean Martinson said...

I have a newsletter that I meant to start and didn't. I only had four people sign up, and that just seemed . . . well, awful. Plus, I didn't know what I would put in a newsletter that I didn't put in my blog. And, would anyone want the thing? I'm not sure. I have a tendency to unsubscribe from newsletters.

August 11, 2015 at 1:39 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Annie--People who know me in real life all seem to be the "saddle up old Bessie" types who think the Internet is a passing fad. Sigh.

I think we all have a few newsletters we enjoy, but we're all overbooked. To read another one, we'd have to give up one that we do read. That means it has to be pretty spectacular. And most author newsletters aren't.

August 11, 2015 at 2:02 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Tyrean--Rewriting your blog to send it out to four people doesn't seem like a great use of one's time, does it? I guess if those people are so set in their ways that they can't click on a blog link it might be worth it.

But they can still get the whole blog in their inbox if they subscribe. I don't get it. But lots of people are telling me newsletters are useful because so many old people can't read blogs (presumably even if the blog is in their email inbox.) But are they going to be buying books? Certainly not ebooks!

August 11, 2015 at 2:06 PM  
Blogger The Teacher said...


I don't bother to unsubscribe. I just flag as SPAM sites and/or newsletters, etc. that I'm not interested in and delete the SPAM folder first thing every morning without looking at what's in it----The SPAM is usually numbered in the 100s. I wouldn't have time if I wanted to go through it.

August 11, 2015 at 8:22 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Teacher--I envy you your spam program. My gmail puts all my important financial and personal emails in spam and puts all the promos in my main inbox, no matter how often I report it as spam ans star the important ones. I think people pay Google to put promos in your inbox. I can't think of any other reason. It's infuriating

So reporting for spam in gmail doesn't work for me. But if it works in your program, it sure beats having to unsubscribe by email. They always write back and guilt trip you. It's time consuming as well as invasive. Sigh.

August 11, 2015 at 9:42 PM  
Blogger Jane Steen said...

I've tried to unsubscribe from this thread several times with no success...talking about spam!

August 12, 2015 at 7:55 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Jane--I didn't know that Blogger won't let you unsubscribe from a thread. I've never tried that. It might be easier for you not to hit the "notify me" button in the future and just check in the next day for your reply. Sorry. I didn't know Blogger did that.

August 12, 2015 at 9:54 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Jane--I do get your point that email is more personal. Especially if you send email to readers individually. I do get emails from readers and answer them personally. I know that helps keep the connections, as you say.

And again I apologize for Blogger's inferior "notification" function that doesn't seem to turn off. That's the big drawback to a Blogger blog. We have no control over what the Blogger elves do.

August 12, 2015 at 11:19 AM  
Blogger Jane Steen said...

I haven't got the Notify Me button checked--it unchecked itself after I tried to unsub. But I still keep getting the comments by email. I've had a Blogger blog for years but am going to kill it mostly because of the way Google has messed about with the commenting.

Oh well, I guess people will stop commenting eventually :D

August 12, 2015 at 12:56 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Jane--It's all very mysterious. Last week people complained they couldn't get email notices of the comments even if they checked the "notify me" button. So there seems to be a glitch. I hope they'll clear it up soon!

August 12, 2015 at 1:34 PM  
Blogger Frances Caballo said...

Love your common sense advice, Anne. And you're right about Guy Kawasaki's advice: 90%/10% is his suggestion. He says that writers should be like NPR and dispense plenty of bits of wisdom in their social postings.

August 14, 2015 at 5:56 AM  
Blogger Beth Writes said...

These are great thoughts. Pros and Cons to every point made... I see some I like some, eh. :D But, for me, I don't see much difference between a Newsletter and a blogpost/subscription except that I get LOTS more blogposts in my inbox than Newsletters. And, if an author is at all savvy, they aren't using pdf to send out newsletters. They are using programs like Mailchimp, where an author goes in--writes a post and hits "publish," which is about what you're doing here on blogspot when your post goes out to all your subscribers and hits their inboxes.

Newsletter "Junkies" (for lack of a better word) send a post out once, twice a month? Bloggers typically are on and posting 2-3 times a week. I probably have hundreds of subscriptions to blogs that now go to my convenient "social" tab in gmail and almost never get seen. Where as, Newsletters come to my primary tab and I see them... a few times at most a month.

And, I gotta say, they are not usually the in-your-face buy-my-book advertisement that Newsletters have the reputation for here. Most authors are seem to be aware that the newsletter is a place to share and get to know. As a matter of fact, with the exception of my August newsletter, every newsletter I put out has a Q&A giveaway... and I always ask what people are up to. What's hitting their hotspot? How is summer going? Tell me about your....whatever, first kiss. It's hardly ever about the books. It's a blog post...

OTOH, I find most interesting blogs through FB at this point. I think that might be where I picked up this one. I also can't imagine people signing strangers up for a newsletter...just because they interacted with the author. *ouch* That's awful.

In any case, as you said, what works for some won't work for others...and we all just have to keep working at it until we hit a sweet spot.

PS down to the Transparent Newsletter Subscription Form that pops up, either when I get to a webpage or when I move my mouse toward the X. That one is really creepy, because it's....watching!

August 14, 2015 at 7:28 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Frances--I do like Guy Kawasaki's "NPR" model and I try to follow his advice myself, but I know some marketers balk at that 90% so I kept with the more common 80% informative/entertainment content. But I'd like to see more authors move to 90%. Thanks!

August 14, 2015 at 9:24 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Beth--You make a good point that a once-a-month newsletter might be preferable to a three-times-a week blog subscription.

I'm kinda confused that you find a newsletter more interactive than a blog though. Do people send you private responses to the newsletter and then you post them in the next newsletter? Or you just have private conversations with each subscriber? That seems way more complicated than a blog comment thread, and I wouldn't have the time. I think a lot of the value of a blog comes from informative comments (like yours) and it would be a shame if nobody saw them.

But I do enjoy some newsletters if 1) they are not PDFs, 2) they are only sent to subscribers 3) they have real content instead of 100% advertising, bragging and begging.

I do get some excellent newsletters like Hope Clark's and I look forward to reading it.

I agree those popups that follow you around are the creepiest! Also the ones that pop up when you try to click away and say "are you sure you want to leave this page?" Not only do I want to leave, I NEVER want to go back.

August 14, 2015 at 9:35 AM  
Blogger Beth Writes said...

Oh right. Yes, replies go to your email/an email/whatever email you choose. :) So I get replies from people and we chat like old friends. Of course, that would happen less the more people who were doing it.

I should say I love Blogger and do wish we could all go back to those great blogging days when all I had to do was hit my reader page. Where was that? I think on the blogger home page. And I could just scroll through who had posted and click whatever looked interesting, which...as usual, is another argument for having the perfect first paragraph written! haha.

Yeah. I miss blogging. Maybe I'll reawaken the old blog. I recent moved from my blogger blog to my webpage blog, in an effort to streamline my online presence. Your followers DON'T follow you. Well, mine didn't. I assume it's people are too busy, people don't want to jump around online, and they definitely don't like change. :D

So, keep blogging!

August 15, 2015 at 3:46 AM  
Blogger Jeffrey Richards said...

Great post, Anne. Thank you for synthesizing this social media etiquette so concisely. I'm on Twitter but it's daunting sometimes because there is so much noise over there that you feel you'll never get heard (occasionally I do but most often I'm just screaming into the void like everyone else). Therefore, my tweeting comes in fits and spurts. I personally get more traction from Facebook friends (and friends of friends) so concentrate my efforts there. I'm new to this world (first book out on Sept. 5th) so have a lot to learn!

August 15, 2015 at 5:36 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Beth--All of that still exists in Blogger. You just go to "my blogs" and "reading list" to see all the blogs you follow.

I do understand why a lot of authors moved from Blogspot to a self-hosted website. Blogger can be annoying and there's no tech help. But Blogger is owned by Google so a Blogger blog is a lot more visible than one buried in your personal website. It may be that your followers lost track of you.

You did exactly what all the marketing experts tell us to do, but I wrote this post to urge authors to think twice about dumping a blog for a newsletter.

I do get personal replies to the blog every week, of course, but only maybe 10 or 20. If I had personal email conversations going with our 5000 followers every single week instead of in a comment thread, I'd not only have to stop writing books, I'd have to stop eating and sleeping start making funeral arrangements. :-)

I think a comment thread also does more to create community than 1000 personal email conversations. And also it does a whole lot more for SEO, which no longer seems to be in vogue.

But I realize I'm in the minority. Marketing gurus think authors should stop blogging and send emails instead, no matter the cost to visibility, community, or your personal health.

August 15, 2015 at 10:03 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Jeffrey--Congrats on your upcoming launch! Catherine and I give lots of the information you need in our book HOW TO BE A WRITER IN THE E-AGE. It should still be on sale for a few more hours. It has many chapters on how to use social media effectively. Facebook is better for interacting and Twitter is better for news. I use Twitter mostly to follow links to important breaking news in the industry (and the world) and I follow people who help me keep informed. I use Google Plus for tech info and FB for fun hanging out with friends.

August 15, 2015 at 10:12 AM  
Blogger Rachel Leigh Smith said...

I hate blogging. I tried forcing myself to do it for several years, and it showed that I hated it. It took time away from my actual novel writing and I started resenting it. No matter how many times I've tried to come up with some theme or schedule to keep myself blogging, it never gets off the ground. So I quit trying. I'm a lot happier without that hanging over my head.

I also can't stand Twitter. It annoys the hell out of me and I don't like how I have less control of what I see than I do on FB. I'm someone easily drawn into political arguments and wasting time, plus I'm also not part of the majority of political views on Twitter. It makes more sense for me to not be there, and I'm happier not being there. It was a dreaded chore. I Tweet stuff occasionally, but I'm by no means regular about it and I haven't checked my feed in probably six months. That's how little I care.

But Facebook, that's where I thrive! I love it over there, and I'm very active as an author, a reader, and a regular person. I understand Facebook, and it's also where my readers find me. I've never had a reader follow me on Twitter.

I also have a newsletter that I'm modeling after Nalini Singh's. I LOVE hers and it's the first thing I read when it shows up in my email. She sends once a month, and often has short stories and little scenes/vignettes to show her fans what our favorite characters are up to. You can't read these anywhere else.

Newsletter subscribers in my genre tend to be superfans, and I want to reward them the same way Nalini rewards me. I sent out my first short story yesterday. On all of my signup stuff, on my website and in my books, I tell readers exactly what they're going to get when they subscribe. And I refuse to use popups. I hate them and it's a great way to make me leave a site and never come back.

August 15, 2015 at 10:47 AM  
Blogger Rachel Leigh Smith said...

What you mentioned with "authors" signing you up for email without your consent, or harvesting your email address, it's not just unfair usage. It's ILLEGAL. It's also illegal to not have anything at the bottom with instructions to unsubscribe.

I have no qualms about reporting that stuff as spam when I get it. Because that's exactly what it is.

August 15, 2015 at 10:52 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Rachel--You sound like you really fit into my category of writer who need newsletters. If you truly hate to blog, then a newsletter--especially one that only goes out once a month--is a fine alternative. And since you ARE on social media (Facebook) you are out and about and people can find you on the Internet.

August 15, 2015 at 12:31 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Rachel--Unfortunately, newbie authors don't know it's illegal, and most of the gurus don't tell them. They just say "the one with the biggest mailing list wins." It's like robocalls on your phone. They're illegal too, but reporting them doesn't do much to stop them. Sigh.

August 15, 2015 at 12:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is my first time visiting your blog. I am looking forward to returning! Great information.

August 25, 2015 at 5:22 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Anon--Thanks! I have just allowed anon comments again after many years of requiring an ID, because finally that CAPTCHA just requires checking a box, not getting magnifying glasses and a new pair of corneas. Yay!

August 25, 2015 at 6:37 PM  
Blogger Steven Rose Jr. said...

Thanks for these great tips, Anne. I find them really helpful because I'm in the middle of a marketing "crisis" myself with my books. I'm hearing so many different stories from marketers in which I'm learning that you just have to be choosy about what works for your own book because when it comes to marketing, one size doesn't fit all. Also, I'm not primarily a marketer myself, I am a writer, an artist. Marketing is merely a tool that should be used very selectively in the ways you indicate in your post. What's important is the communication with people for the sake of showing interest in them and not in merely your own goal of selling your book. Again, it goes back to the 20%, 80% rule. I especially like how you point out how you can distribute your blog as a "newsletter" because I've been having problems with the newsletter method and so have been very hesitant about going that route. Thanks, again!

September 25, 2015 at 12:42 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Steven--I'm glad this post is helpful to you. Most creative writers are not marketers and don't know much about business strategies, so we do what we're told has worked in the past.

The trouble is, what worked 2 or 3 years ago is not likely to work now in a saturated market, but everybody keeps preaching it. Which means we're doing the same thing and not getting the results we want.

Newsletters were great in the days before blogs. And they even worked at the beginning of the indie movement, but with so many people self-publishing, and all of them sending out newsletters, readers are on burnout. I know I am.

September 25, 2015 at 1:20 PM  
Blogger Steven Rose Jr. said...

Oh, yeah. I get burned out to when I see newsletters bombarding my email box.

October 3, 2015 at 4:23 PM  

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