Starting a Newsletter Serial Novella

_ NEW _

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 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.

 

Please Join My Launch Team

Six days into 2018, and I’m finally solidifying my writing goals. The focus of this year will be on my Angels of Sojourn series, which includes Blood & Holy Water and four other stories.

I’m getting some fabulous covers for this series, creating some memorable characters, and trying to gain some new readers & fans.

To do all that, I need your help. I am looking for people to join my launch team. People who will help spread the word of these stories by purchasing the book(s) when they’re specially priced at 99 cents, leave reviews, or help share Facebook posts.

of sojourn

Here’s my (ambitious) plan for the year:

  • Blood & Holy Water: New Cover in Spring
  • Fangs & Fairy Dust: Publishing February 1st in the Darklight & Daydreams anthology, then republishing as a stand-alone novella in May.
  • Fur & Feathers: Publishing late spring/early summer
  • Untitled Novella: Publishing in the Unleashed anthology in August, then republishing as a stand-alone novella in December.
  • Lily & Grimm (or some other titled): Publishing late fall/early winter

And then that may be the end to this series with new things for 2019.

Please join my launch team HERE:

Here’s my tentative calendar.

January

1/15/18: Hexes and Ohs Published

February

2/1/18: Darklight & Daydreams Published (Fangs & Fairy Dust)

March April

Relaunch Blood & Holy Water?

May

Publish Fangs & Fairy Dust independently

June

Publish Fur & Feathers

July August

8/20/18: Unleashed Anthology Published (untitled novella in Angels of Sojourn world)

September October

Publish Lily & Grimm

November

 

December

Publish untitled novella from Unleashed independently.

How about you? What are you focusing on in 2018?

My Book Marketing Plan

After releasing four books, I’ve tweaked and retweaked my new-release marketing plan. I’d love feedback on ways to improve it, but here’s what I have so far.

First, I release a first in a series at 99 cents for 8 days, though when I release Fur & Feathers, I may try a release at full price ($2.99). The reason for 99 cents is to encourage sales and hope that the Amazon algorithms pick it up to be “sticky.”

Here’s my advertising plan:

Paid Promos: Schedule about $100 of paid promos (This also helps with Kindle unlimited page reads) I learned that more promos is not worth it, as you end up hitting the same readers over and over.
Newsletter Swaps: Participate in as many newsletter swaps as possible – make sure to have a sign up and require proof they shared. Also, send a reminder/confirmation, otherwise, sometimes I think the other authors forget to do their end of the swap. Honestly, I think with the right network of authors & newsletters, you could do a release solely on free swaps.
Multi Author Cross Promo: Sign up for as many KU or 99 cent sales as you can find.
Create your own KU & 99 Cent Cross Promo if not many are available during your release week. I did this, you can see what they looked like HERE (99 cents) or HERE (KU)
Daycause campaign: Create & ask for support. I used to use Headtalker, but they went out of business. Thunderclap is another one, but you need so many supporters, I fear I’d work hard and my campaign would never be published.
Social Media: Post on all channels you utilize. I think, at some point, I need to break into you tube.
Schedule twitter & facebook posts
Blog Post
Boost Facebook Post: People who like your page & their friends. This has been the most effective for me.
Genre Targeted – I haven’t found much success with this yet.
AMS Ad: Begin selecting keywords early.
My Newsletter: Send on day 2 or so. Resend in 24 hours to non-openers or do the below.
Non-openers (a thank you on my new release) – Day 6
Non-openers (gmail-repeat last email) – Day 8
Other Bookbub email – automatic, work on gaining follows
Amazon email – automatic, work on gaining follows
KDROi promos
Misc Ideas Goodreads Giveaway
Amazon Giveaway
Sample Chapters on Instafreebies
Schedule a Facebook Hop
Blot tour?
Post on reader facebook pages?
Goodreads Lists?

So what does it all look like? Here’s how my release of Hidden: A Pregnant Fairy Godmother’s Journey went. I don’t follow the plan above perfectly, but it serves as a guide. Of note, I couldn’t promote using some of my favorite paid promo sites because of my story being a novella or they were booked when I contacted them. Also, some of the paid sights below, I wouldn’t use again due to lack of sales.

**Note: I had a 3 month pre-order period. For Amazon, this does nothing to help your ranking, but does help build also-boughts for some free advertising a little later.

Date Price Promo 1 Promo 2
11/7/2017 still on pre-order Reader’s Gazette 1 Author Newsletter Swap
11/8/2017 pre-order
11/9/2017 $0.99 Facebook
AMSMy Kindle Unlimited Promo
KDROi (until the 14th)
1 Author Newsletter SwapBookbub Email (automatic)
11/10/2017 $0.99 Book Sends/eReader IQ
Amazon New Release Email
Choosy Bookworm
My Mailing List (List 1 – 1st 1/2)
11/11/2017 $0.99 Book Runes My Mailing List (List 1 – 2nd 1/2)
Resend Mailing list 1 (1st) after 25 hrs
11/12/2017 $0.99 Romancing the Dragon Blog Post
Resend Mailing List 1 (2nd) after 25 hrs
11/13/2017 $0.99 Fussy Librarian Author Newsletter Swap
11/14/2017 $0.99 eReader Café 3 Author Newsletter Swaps
11/15/2017 $0.99 Awesome Gang 2 Author Newsletter Swaps
11/16/2017 $0.99 BK Knights 1 Author Newsletter Swap
11/17/2017 $0.99 My 99 Cent Promo My Mailing List (list 2)
1 Author Newsletter Swap
11/18/2017 $0.99 My 99 Cent Promo
Light UF Promo
My Mailing List again (list 2)
11/19/2017 $0.99 My 99 Cent Promo
Light UF Promo
11/20/2017 $2.99
11/21/2017 $2.99
11/22/2017 $2.99

How am I doing so far? Okay, but I have four more days to go at 99 cents. Someday I’d love to discover the secret formula, but I think massive sales takes a bit of luck as well. Here are my Amazon sales charts so far:

hidden release

And don’t forget, I hit #1 in a category (humorous fantasy) and earned the elusive Amazon best seller ribbon. Both of which are a huge win for me!!!

Hidden #1Hidden best seller

Oh, and I saw my name on the same page with two of my favorite authors, Patricia Briggs & Robin McKinley. You can’t put a price tag on that one.

schultz mckinley briggs.png

So, what marketing am I missing? What’s worked for you?

Four Books Later, I Finally Hit #1

That’s right. I finally did it!

Hidden #1

Hidden: A Pregnant Fairy Godmother’s Journey hit #1, and I received the elusive Amazon Best Seller orange tag!

Hidden best seller

And it didn’t take many sales. The day it hit number one, I sold 50 copies.

The key was a good cover, a little bit of the right advertising, and picking the correct categories for the book. Here are a few tidbits:

  1. The right cover: I’ve finally given in. I did make my Hidden Cover, but moving forward, I think I’ll be hiring cover designers. I reached out to one of my favorite designers to work on redoing Blood & Holy Water & making one for book 2 & 3 in this series.
  2. The right advertising: Having a group of authors that help support this project has helped me bring in sales (if you haven’t read my blog about the “Hidden” project, check it out HERE.) I’ve also developed a new release spreadsheet/plan that works on multiple angels of advertising, including paid promos, newsletter swaps, social media, cross promo with other authors, and Amazon/Bookbub notifications. Someday, I’ll write a blog about this — if you want a copy sooner, just comment below.
  3. The right categories: Yeah, this makes all the difference. There’s a whole mess of sites about getting into specific categories, but what I do is just browse every ebook category on Amazon, write down which ones I want, then contact Amazon (thorough author central) to add my book where I’d like it. This article has been helpful. I go right to step 3.

Oh, and a bonus to all of this…my reviews are coming in better than I expected. I have 18 reviews so far (it released three days ago,) and I’m currently averaging a 4.6 stars!

Now, my next goal: figuring out how to get “sticky” on Amazon. First, I’ll have to write more books!

Thanks for sticking with me & my writing journey.

Talk to you again soon!