The conference had perfect timing being early in November.  This week we had our first snowfall—usually we don’t see any snow until January and February.  I’m glad I wasn’t taking the train in that!

This was only half a day, but the panel below had a lot of notes:

The Jeopardy Approach: How to Find Thousands of True Fans

Short summary: Email newsletters.

From last year’s conference, I picked up one piece of advice on newsletters: Just because you’re overwhelmed by email doesn’t mean everyone else thinks the same.

This workshop was stepping off into the deep end.

What is marketing?

“Marketing is getting someone who has a need to know, like, and trust you.” – and buy books.

Email builds the relationship with the reader over time while they’re waiting for the next book to come out.  Consistency, of course, is key.  If people come to expect your emails, they’re more likely to read it.  If you fall off the schedule, the rest of the world fills it in…and when you send out another email again, they’ve forgotten that you’ve signed up and get annoyed. (This part is not from the workshop, but my thinking on it).

The basics

Be human

I think that’s the biggest problem when writers try to figure out how to market.  They don’t see any sales, so they go onto Twitter and start sending out tweets for “Buy my book.”  A writer friended me on Facebook.  I should have looked at what she was posting because her first three were “Buy my book.”  Spam makes the rest of the world think you’re a robot.

Be consistent

This is like a TV show…same time, same day.

Schedule it all in advance

Just plain time management 101. It’s hard to be consistent if you’re in constant reaction mode (not to mention stressful!).

Use monthly themes

This helps with coming up with ideas for the newsletter.  Themes can be focused around releases.  I’m going to do a digital organization in February and do a release of a book called Digital Minimalism: Reduce Clutter on Your Computer Now (there’s a specific reason for this month, but more about that when I go into Joanna Penn’s keynote speech in Part III).

Provide positive value

I think this one is really important.  When I have subscribed to writer newsletters, I end up just getting an announcement of the next book coming out.  Contrasting that to FundsForWriters, which has two short articles about writing and a list of markets, plus any new books coming out by the writer.

No rants!

I think this is pretty self-explanatory.  I personally would add no politics to that.  You can turn off a reader really fast with politics.

Recommended newsletter schedules

Five days a week

Which isn’t as scary as it sounds.  The proposal was about 100 words, or 3-4 sentences, just like a Facebook post.  Follow a topics schedule:

  • Monday – Inspiration
    Tuesday – How to
    Wednesday – Links (two, with a sentence about them)
    Thursday – longer question
    Friday – Podcast or video


Explore this world—drama, humor, self-help, education.  I think it is tough for fiction writers though because it doesn’t have the same neat fit that a non-fiction book does.

Create a buzz

This newsletter is like a TV season, for example: Game of Thrones.  Do a story in email over three months and spend the rest of the year creating a buzz.

It’s interesting that nowhere on this list are the two most common mailings…once a month and when there’s a release.  In this fast moving world, those may be too little.

Based on this panel, I’m going to start an email newsletter December 1.  I’ll be doing the five days a week option.

Part III of this will be next Tuesday.