About Joynell Schultz

Writer & lover of all types of speculative fiction. I'm shivering in northern Wisconsin. Learn about my novels here: http://Author.to/JoynellSchultz

Starting a Newsletter Serial Novella

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For about a year, I’ve been wanting to write a serial novel for my newsletter where I release one or two chapters of a new story at a time. I had gone so far as polling my newsletter subscribers to see if they were interested (which the majority of the respondents said they were.)

I had two big barriers to doing this…

  1. Finding the time to write something extra with all the stories I already committed to and fitting this in with the work I do at my family zoo business.
  2. My Newsletter only goes out monthly — that’s a lot of time to wait between releases.

But this summer, I’m in need of sending out a weekly newsletter due to all the new material I have coming out and other commitments. I thought it would be a great time to try this serial newsletter idea.

So, starting today and running until the end of August (or mid-September, depending on how the story goes) I’ll be releasing a weekly newsletter filled with one or two chapters of my current work in progress, The Superhero’s Husband.

This story is not written yet. I’m writing it as we go with hopes of receiving feedback from readers. I did take a day or two and outlined it with quite a bit of detail — which is needed for clue planting as all my longer stories have elements of mystery.

I’ll update you in a few months… My fingers are crossed that this is successful!

To see how I introduced this concept in my newsletter, click HERE.

To subscribe to my newsletter to follow along, click HERE.

To read the first chapter of The Superhero’s Husband, click HERE.

Author Newsletter Content

It’s been over a year that I’ve been sending out an author newsletter. I used to get so nervous on my content and had a touch of paralysis on whether to send it out or not.

Now, I’m a little more confident, but still wonder if I’m on target. I subscribe to lots of author newsletters, trying to see which interests me most, but each one of them is so different. I’ve learned what I don’t like in a newsletter, but still have questions:

Are my subscribers reading mine? Do they like the content or are they expecting something different?

To answer these questions, I created a survey and asked my readers what they like, hate, and wish was included. I sent this survey out in my monthly newsletter and incentivized survey completion with a $20 Amazon Gift Card prize given away to one lucky respondent. Here’s what that newsletter looked like.

Overall, I received 535 responses to my survey. 🙂 This is what my readers had to say:

  • 52% have read at least one of my books
  • 50% appreciate that my stories are clean, while 30% don’t care, and 9% only will read clean stories (I recently had two subscribers upset about an anthology I was in that wasn’t clean. My story was, but the other author’s stories weren’t. It made me realize who some of my readers are.)
  • 59% like a monthly newsletter while 19% like every other week and 17% would like weekly (Other authors do weekly and say it works great and is what their fans want. I was curious, as a more frequent newsletter would allow me to participate in more group promotions.)
  • 71% of my readers enjoy fantasy books, 70% mystery, 56% romance, 56% science fiction, and 20% would read anything I wrote. 😊 (I love you!) I didn’t realize how many mystery readers I had.
  • 50% are happy with a diverse newsletter while 25% would like one tailored towards their favorite genre
  • 59.4% like a subject line that has a peek to the content while 32.5% enjoy a consistent one so they know who the newsletter is from (Mine used to all say something like: April’s “Hidden World” Newsletter. I recently changed this to try to get higher open rates, and was wondering if readers missed it. It appears this was a good change.

Of what I currently put in my newsletter, I learned my readers are most interested in my new release updates, followed by updates on my writing progress & stories. Group promos & contests, and other author books are the least favorite, but still 54% say they enjoy this section.

I then asked the survey respondents what would they like to see in my newsletter that’s currently not there. The most requested was fun stories about my personal life that ranked in at 47.5%, followed by sneak peeks & excerpts and exclusive content such as character interviews or deleted scenes. Hearing about book sales and the life as a writer also had quite a few votes. The least votes came to hear about what I’m blogging about and a serial novel.

Then I read everyone’s comments, which is where you get the best feedback. Here’s some of my favorites that I’ll be incorporating into newsletter revisions:

  • More on Zoo Animals!
  • More on where you get your inspiration
  • Too many promotions at the end of the email
  • Table of contents
  • Don’t need to include all categories every month
  • Advanced reader copies of books

Overall, this was a fantastic exercise to do with readers. I learned that I’m currently on target with content, but still gave me some tweaks I can do to improve my newsletters further. To see how this all came together, take a peek at my April Newsletter where I started to make some changes. More to come.

Thanks for reading!

–Joy

Feel free to share any author newsletter experiences you’ve had. I love learning from each other.

My 2018 Publishing Schedule

My dad always says, set your goals at 110% and then be amazed when you accomplish more.

That’s been the story of my life.  It adds pressure and stress, but when you do reach (or exceed) your goals, it leaves you with an amazing feeling of accomplishment. The key is to sometimes take a break from always pushing yourself farther.

This year, I stumbled into some great opportunities that I couldn’t pass up…so I set my goals at 110%…at least for the first part of the year.

Currently, I’m working on writing five projects that have deadlines sometime before May 20th.

  1. My novel, Fur & Feathers: Angels of Sojourn – Book 2. Progress: First draft is with two beta readers.
  2. A short story for a permafree Angels & Magic collection. Progress: First draft is complete and is being reviewed by its first beta reader.
  3. THREE different novellas
    1. Angels & Magic box set. Currently writing. Will have the first draft done by the end of the week, then I need to find some beta readers.
    2. Unleashed – PNR box set. Story is outlined, will write next.
    3. Legend of the Veil – fae box set. Story is outlined, will write after “Unleashed.”

And all this will come together in the following publishing calendar.

May:

  • Fangs & Fairy Dust: A spin-off novella in the Angels of Sojourn Series. Publishing May 21st. (Currently available for pre-order or in the Darklight & Daydreams anthology.)

June:

  • Angels & Magic Permafree Anthology (A stand-alone Angels of Sojourn Short Story)
  • Angels & Magic Box Set (A stand-alone Angels of Sojourn Novella)

June/July:

  • Fur & Feathers (Angels of Sojourn, Book 2) – this book is written and with beta readers. I’m also waiting for the cover which will be done in April. It may release sooner.

August:

  • Legends of the Veil: Summer of the Supernaturals Anthology (A new story in my Hidden: A Pregnant Fairy Godmother’s Journey world)
  • Unleashed: A Paranormal Romance Anthology – This will be the first book I’m in with a bare-chested man on the cover. My story will still be quite clean. 😊 I’m blushing just thinking about promoting this one.

October through December:

  • The Secret Life of a Superhero Husband Novella (Superhero Wives World)
  • Angels of Sojourn, Book 3 (About Lily & The Angel of Death)

2019:

  • The sequel to Love, Lies & Clones (Yay!)
  • A new series (Another Yay!)

Oh, how I wish I could write faster, but that dang day job. Too bad those animals at the zoo need care every day. 🙂 (If you missed it, that was a joke. No worries. I love our animals.)

Is there something else you’d like me to spend my time on? I’d love to hear!

 

I Love Anthologies!

I do. I love everything about them.

I love reading them. I love writing stories for them. I love meeting new authors and characters through them. I especially love holding one massive book in my hands. (Take a look at the size of these two anthologies I was recently in compared to a standard, mass market paperback:)

anthologies

As a writer, a multi-author anthology is great for introducing your writing style to new readers. I always gain new mailing list subscribers, book sales, and comments through social media from new fans.

As a reader, anthologies are a great way to taste many different writers work. The best part is they are inexpensive AND you don’t have to invest a lot of time to determine if you like how an author writes a story. If I loved something, I always go on to find more by that author. (My biggest pet peeve is when a story does not get wrapped up in a satisfying way. Many people may go on to read another book, but not me. I’m not that patient.)

This week, a 20,000+ word novella of mine, Fangs & Fairy Dust, was published in the Darklight & Daydreams Anthology. This one is my second charity anthology I’ve participated in. Here, all the proceeds will go to Puerto Rico to help them recover after hurricane Maria hit last year.

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I also have a cozy witch story just in time for Valentine’s Day available in the Hexes and Ohs Anthology.

Hexes and Ohs

So, due to my love of this form of book, I may have over committed myself for 2018. I have a handful of anthologies coming out this calendar year.

  • Hexes and Ohs: A collection of paranormal cozy shorts. Published January 16th. (Contains a cozy romantic witch story.)
  • Darklight & Daydreams: A charity anthology benefiting Puerto Rico. Published February 1st (Contains a spin-off novella in my Angels of Sojourn series.)
  • Angels & Magic: Short Story collection. Publishing in May. (Will contain a short story in my Angels of Sojourn series.)
  • Angels & Magic Box Set. Publishing in June. (Will contain a novella in my Angels of Sojourn series.)
  • Unleashed: A Paranormal Romance Anthology. Publishing in August. (Will contain a novella in my Angels of Sojourn series.)
  • Legends of the Veil: A Fae Anthology. Publishing in August. (Will contain a novella in my Fairy Godmother World.)

We have covers for all these sets, but I can’t share the unpublished ones yet. Keeping a secret is SO HARD!

Another thing I love about writing a story for an anthology is they are quite a bit shorter than a novel and are a much needed break from a bigger, lengthy project. Like right now, I just finished up Book 2 in the Angels of Sojourn series and can’t wait to get started on some shorter works.

As always, thanks for reading!

Faded Fall

Please share your love/hate relationship with anthologies.

 

A Novel in 4 Days – Day #3 — The End!

Today is day three of my journey to finish my novel over 4 days this week. I blogged about my plan HERE (10K per day for 4 days to equal 40,000 words) and the results of Day #1 can be found HERE and Day #2 HERE.

On Day #2, I hadn’t hit my goal. I only wrote 8200 words with a goal of 10,000. I was approaching the book’s climax and I got stuck. A little case of writer’s block. I put the story away and talked through my road blocks with my husband and daughter. Between the three of us, we came up with a few ideas on how to twist the story around.

Then yesterday, I had to work at the zoo, so I took the day off from writing. A little recovery time. 🙂

This morning, I was full-force back into it. Cranking out nearly 6000 words today before I picked my kids up from school…but then the story all came together and I wrote two special little words:

The End.

It’s a short first draft, as when I throw down a lot of words in one day the result is like a skeleton. Mostly dialogue, no description, pretty bad writing.

But now the fun begins — editing! Fleshing out my first draft into an actual story I can send off to beta readers.

Honestly, that part takes the most time for me. It’s when the real writing gets done.

Ernest Hemingway had said, “The only kind of writing is rewriting.” Time and time again, I prove this to be true.

So, how many words have I written this week so far?

  • Day 1: 10,157 words
  • Day 2: 8,201 words
  • Day 3: 5,798 words
  • Total: 24,156 words (bringing my novel up to 48,319 words.)

And I know when I’m done editing, it’ll be at least 60,000 words…or a lot more. Even though I wrote “The End,” I’ll still post how the editing goes tomorrow.

My take-home thoughts:

  • I am completely capable of writing 10,000 words in a day! I was skeptical of this, and it’s a great confidence booster to know your capabilities. (But writing 5000 words is much more manageable for life-balance, as I learned today.)
  • A break between major writing days is helpful for plotting when you’re stuck and for the little things…like telling your family you love them.
  • To write this fast, you need to have your major plot points already created. If you get stuck, you come to a screeching halt.
  • I discovered that I work best off a rough outline of plot points, rather than a detailed outline.

So, what will I try with my next novel?

  • Pick four days per month to write 5000 words.
  • Edit on days in between, so there’s not this daunting task of fixing an entire novel at the end.
  • Just get the thing done. Once the plot is down on paper, publishing the novel is so much closer.

And that’s a wrap. Thanks for joining in and all the encouragement. It’s amazing how I can not meet my exact goals, yet feel so accomplished anyway.

How about you? Do you write a little each day or have big writing days where you compose thousands of words?

A Novel in 4 Days – Day #2 — Urgh!

Today is day two of my journey to finish my novel over 4 days this week. I blogged about my plan HERE (10K per day for 4 days to equal 40,000 words) and the results of Day #1 can be found HERE.

Day #1 had gone fantastic. I frantically typed 10,000 words with no hiccups at all. They flowed, scene to scene, chapter to chapter.

Now, we’re ending Day #2…and I’m calling it quits at 8201 words. I just can’t write anymore. Not because I’m exhausted or sick of it, but because I hit a huge wall. Writer’s block.

Urgh!

I even saw it coming, but the characters wanted to do something completely different than what I had planned for them…and I wrote myself into a corner.

Luckily, I have a day “off” tomorrow where I can step back and do a little more planning before returning to the project on Thursday. (Okay, I don’t have it off — I have to work at the zoo.)

So, the detailed play-by-play:

  • 5AM – Started strong, writing 1828 words by 6:30AM
  • 8AM – Wrote another 1838 words by 9:30AM. I even made breakfast for my husband and I. When I was done, I squeezed in that nap, since I had been up since 3:30AM for no reason at all.
  • 11AM – Wrote 2022 words, but I was starting to slow down. It took me 2&1/2 hours to get those words down.
  • 2PM – Wrote 2033 words off and on between getting the kids and losing track of where the story was going. Again, it took me 2&1/2 hours to hit that word count.
  • 5PM – Here’s where I flopped. I just couldn’t get the story to work out. I even skipped ahead and it still didn’t flow. I decided to go out to dinner and give it a rest. We’ll do some plotting tomorrow and play catch-up on Thursday.
  • Total today: 8211 words. Current word count of novel: 42,852 words. Bright side: The end is in sight.

Lesson learned: Taking a break between major writing days to plot and ensure you’re on track may be good. I know I need one.

Only 2 more days to go! I hit the half-way point. 🙂

A Novel in 4 Days – Day #1!

Today I started my journey to finish my novel over 4 days this week. I blogged about my plan HERE (10K per day for 4 days to equal 40,000 words.)

As I stated in the first blog post, I’m not writing an entire novel in 4 days (even though, by some definition 40K is a full novel), but I’m finishing my novel that had about 20K written, adding another 40K to equal 60K. That’s about all I do for a first draft because in all my edits, the thing becomes bigger and bigger. This one will weigh in at about 85K when I’m done.

So, how did day 1 go?

Awesome.

Need I say more?

(No, but I will anyway. 😊 )

I broke up my 10,000 word goal into smaller steps that I knew I could accomplish.

So, my plan and goals were the following:

  • 5AM: I wake up early, so thought I could pound out about 1000 words while sipping on my cup of coffee.
  • 8AM: After the kids are dropped off at school, I wanted to sit down and put 2000 words down on paper.
  • 11AM: While my lunch was in the oven, I thought I’d write another 2000 words.
  • 2PM: Again, 2000 words (one chapter) down on paper…or rather eInk.
  • 5PM: A final chunk of 2000 words today…then just a little more to hit the goal.
  • 7PM: Finish the day with a short 1000 words. This should be easy compared to the rest of the day.

And how did it go?

  • 5AM – Goal of 1000 words – DONE! 1079 Words.
  • 8AM – Goal of 2000 words – DONE! 2071 Words (by 9:21AM – then I took a 30 minute nap.)
  • 11AM – Goal of 2000 words – DONE! 2415 Words (by 1:25PM – but I stalled and ate lunch and worked with my cover designer.)
  • 2PM – Goal of 2000 words – DONE! 2149 Words (started early (1PM) because I needed to pick the kids up by 2:50PM.)
  • 5PM – Goal of 2000 words – ALMOST! 1421 Words (Started early 3:30 – Kids came home. Much harder to write with distractions…then my husband came home, too.)
  • 7PM – Goal of 1000 words – DONE! 1022 words. Started at 6PM and now it’s 7PM and it’s finished & I’m writing this blog post (ha! Another 500 words.)
  • Total today: 10156 words. Exceeded goal! Current word count of novel: 34655 words.

And the best part? Something I didn’t expect?

Once I get writing, the story is all there in my head and the words flow. Each scene lines up like little toy soldiers, waiting for me to knock them down, one by one.

Also, with spreading the goals out like this gave me time to be domestic. Do dishes, pick the kids up, take my daughter to swimming, and go to the house my husband is rehabbing and give him some moral support.

Only 3 more days to go! I can’t wait to share with you how tomorrow goes.