Sunday, October 19, 2008

Newsletters - Communicating with Readers

(taken during drive to work this week before the sun came up)

Hello, friends and writers.

I hope this week has been good to you. Have you been able to write a lot? Or have you just soaked up life as you darted from project to project? Either phase is an important part of writing. Whether you're pounding out the chapters, or absorbing the beauty of the fall landscape that will later become a backdrop to your next love, chase, or murder scene - it's all part of the process, isn't it?

I've been babysitting my dear infant granddaughter overnight for the past four days. Wow. I forgot how hard it is to get up at 4-5 o'clock for bottle feedings! Wait a minute. My wife breast fed, so I never HAD that memory to recall!

She spoiled me. I helped in all the waking hours before and after work, but Dale always took care of our three girls overnight. Anway, I'm falling head over heels for my little Isabella. What a doll she is.

We also had a lovely but too short visit with Melanie, who came home from Cambridge for the weekend. Poor kid, I couldn't stop hugging her. ;o) We had lots of walks in the woods and some memorable meals together. Such good times. And of course, good fodder for future scenes in my LeGarde Mysteries. (grin)
In addition, like many of you, I've been reeling from the beauty of the autumn landscapes here in upstate New York. I don't recall a season this rich in color in many years. It's just overwhelmingly beautiful. Calendar beautiful. Knock-you-senseless beautiful. Know what I mean? The apples are clustered thick on the trees, just begging you to bite into them.

(see that layer of fog in the distance? It's hovering over the Genesee River)

Okay, now on to literary business.

I thought we might talk about communicating with one's readers via newsletters today. Dean Koontz regularly sends out a print newsletter from his dearly departed dog, Trixie. It's filled with tidbits about Dean's new books and observations from Trixie, from the great beyond. It's a common practice, and a wonderful way to share the latest scoop in an author's world.

And I, your humble mystery addict, send out the LeGarde Mysteries Newsletter via email just about every quarter. Or, when something particularly "newsworthy" comes along, such as a new book release. I like to include family news as well as literary news, since when folks read my books, they often like to hear about the whole package. And if they don't - well, they can always skip ahead! Ha. (if you'd like to sign up for the newsletter, just email me at and put "newsletter" in the subject line.)

Newsletters are a wonderful way to stay connected with your readers. Not a published author? Not a problem. I'll bet you have friends, writer's circles, critique partners, and family who DO read your stuff and care about your progress. Right?

Start with them and get into the practice of summarizing your progress on a regular basis. You'll be surprised how much you actually do accomplish in a few short months. (and if you haven't accomplished anything, don't be too hard on yourself. Roll up your sleeves and make a new plan!) Of course, be sure to ask if your subscribers want to hear from you (you don't want to be a nuisance!). And provide a little note at the bottom of your newsletter to let them know how to unsubscribe if they get sick of you!

Once you become published, provide a sign up sheet at your book signings so you can stay in touch with folks who buy your books. If you receive mail from your readers, politely ask if they'd like to subscribe to the newsletter. And add a link to your website so it's easy for them to sign up.

As an example, today I'd like to share the newsletter we just issued for our Murder by 4 blog. As you all know, it's not just about mysteries. This is a blog for readers and writers of all sorts. SW Vaughn blogs on Tuesdays, Marta Stephens posts on Wednesdays, Kim Smith shares on Thursdays, and I chose Sundays. We also feature guest bloggers twice a week (Mondays and Fridays) and have had a wealth of guests, from publishers to editors to world famous authors. Matter of fact, check us out tomorrow, October 20th, when renowned author Warren Adler stops in to treat us to a piece about where his ideas come from!

So, whether you are a published author, or just starting to stir up interest in what will soon become your best seller, consider newsletters as a powferful vehicle to stay in touch with your readers. Here's our current newsletter - and please be sure to comment if you have time on the newsletter blog. We LOVE comments!

Murder by 4 Newsletter


Jodi Lee (Morrighan) said...

LOL! Timely content, indeed. On Friday, I posted a poll on my site, asking visitors if having both blog and newsletter was too much.

It came on because I realized I'd not sent out a newsletter in months, even though I'd hoped to keep it as a monthly thing. I just end up putting everything out there on the blog. :)

s.w. vaughn said...

Great post, Aaron! There's a post on Dear Author today that talks about the effectiveness (or lack) of online advertising for novelists, and they come to the conclusion that repetition is the most effective way to possible book sales. A newsletter is a good way to keep your name in front of readers so they're more likely to remember you when they spot your book(s) elsewhere.

And Isabella is gorgeous! :-)

(Hi Jodi! *waves*)

Kim Smith said...

Aaron, I look forward to your posts all week. The pictures, the insights, ah. Thank you Aaron for promoting us, and yourself with such fervor, and just know I am a huge fan. kim

Aaron Paul Lazar said...

Thank you, Jodi, S.W., and Kim! So lovely to hear from you all!