A couple of weeks ago I invited you to participate in a survey I was conducting about writers’ newsletters.
Some of you subscribe to my blog via email. Someone asked me privately if that was what I meant by a newsletter. No, when you subscribe to the blog, you get an email from WordPress each time I post with that post’s content. A newsletter is something in addition to that, with additional news or thoughts not posted on the blog (though it may contain links back to the blog as well.)
I’ve been told that some publishers put great stock in the size of one’s newsletter list. As a reader, I don’t subscribe to very many newsletters myself, from either bloggers or authors. So I wanted to discern how other readers felt about them in order to know whether I should start one as I finish my book.
31 people responded to my survey. Here are my questions and their answers:
1. Do you subscribe to newsletters from authors or bloggers? How many?
- Yes, a few: 17
- Yes, several: 5
- No: 8
2. If you don’t subscribe to any, why?
- I don’t want any more email: 12
- I already follow their blog or other social media: 8
- Not interested: 4
- Other: 4
3. What’s the ideal frequency of newsletters?
- Weekly: 5
- Monthly: 10
- Quarterly: 5
- A couple of times a year: 1
- Only when a new book is coming out: 6
- Other (please specify): 4 responses:
- not daily, only if you have a new book on sale. Weekly or whatever makes sense to you.
- whenever the author feels the need
- None thank you
- Bi monthly
4. What do you like to see in newsletters? Check all that apply.
- News about upcoming publications: 16
- Chatty news about the author (family, travel, hobbies, activities, etc.): 12
- Interesting background information related to book: 16
- Sales: 3
- Bonus material: 11
- Quotes or reviews from other readers: 2
- Upcoming events (speaking events, book signings, etc.): 9
- What books the author is reading or recommends: 11
- None – would rather read this on blog: 10
- Other (please specify): 5 reader responses:
- I am glad to see this blog with info about your book/s as they happen.
- Summaries with links to make it easy to choose what you want to read.
- Material relevant to my interests. I don’t have time for a bunch of fluff.
I subscribe to a few newsletters from bloggers who have “subscriber freebies”, mostly homeschool materials. But I don’t generally read the email except to find the password to the subscriber page. I generally dislike getting extra email and prefer to read content from blogs I can subscribe to in Feedly.
- Giveaways (there should be some sort of perk for the reader)
5. What don’t you like about newsletters? Check all that apply.
- Too frequent: 20
- Too long: 15
- Too repetitive (sharing information already seen on blog or other media): 17
- Not enough information: 3
- Other (Please specify): 8
- dull colors; find some other color than gray for your background
- I don’t want to read a blogpost – I’d rather have the feeling of being an “insider” into their real life.
- Repeated items for sale. I don’t mind sales, but I don’t like to keep getting it in my inbox over and over. That’s annoying. Perhaps just a reminder that it is there if you want it, but not being pushy about it.
- Always trying to say me something (perhaps “sell” was meant?)
- I find them presumptuous.
When they are interesting I want to share them, it’s more difficult than sharing a blog post
- I don’t like a cluttered inbox. I prefer to control what I read.
- Too much bragging in general
6. Have you ever bought an author or blogger’s product directly from their newsletter or as a result of their newsletter?
- Frequently: 1
- Occasionally: 16
- Never: 14
7: What is your preferred way to hear from a blogger or author? Check all that apply.
- Newsletter: 11
- Blog: 24
- Facebook: 11
- Twitter: 4
- Instagram: 5
- Other (please specify): 2
- I use all of the above 🙂
- their website
8. How do you feel about a writer’s offer of free downloads, booklets, printables, prayer guides, etc., on their blog or newsletter?
- Great! I download lots: 4
- It depends on what it is. I download occasionally: 20
- Not interested: 5
- Other (please specify): 2
I like downloads as do others. But the danger for you is that people like free things and just because they take your free things, doesn’t mean they will pay for stuff. And if you give too much free too often, then there isn’t a reason to for me to buy your book.
I don’t prefer them. I feel they are gimmicky and I cringe at them.
9. Have you ever subscribed to a newsletter just to enter a contest and unsubscribed later?
- Yes, frequently: 5
- Yes, occasionally: 14
- No: 12
10. If your favorite writer has a blog and a newsletter, do you read both?
- Yes, I do for several writers: 3
- Yes, I do for a few: 15
- No, I only read their blog: 9
- No, I only read their newsletter: 3
First of all, thank you so much to those who responded! Your feedback is helpful and I really appreciate it! The survey was set up so that I have no idea who took it or who shared what responses, but I appreciate each one.
As you can see, opinions vary. People are pretty much agreed that they don’t want just sales flyers, a lot of repetition, or an excess of mail. Of course, if a writer has followers across several outlets, some of those followers will only follow on one. So some repetition is inevitable. That’s why I generally just choose one way to follow each writer.
But other preferences differ. Each blogger or author will have to experiment to see what his or her particular readers like, what they have time for as writers, etc.
I probably should have put more distinction between newsletters of bloggers and authors. But these days most publishers want authors to have a platform before submitting a manuscript, so a lot of book authors started out as bloggers.
I only subscribe to one blogger’s newsletter, because it’s part of a reading challenge. I prefer to keep email for correspondence. With email, there’s an understated urgency to handle or answer whatever it is. I prefer reading blogs through Feedly. Plus, so many bloggers’ newsletter share a list of their blog posts from the last week or month, which I’ve already seen.
I don’t subscribe to many authors’ newsletters, and I have unsubscribed to those that have arrived weekly or monthly. One that I subscribe to comes out quarterly. Most of the rest are occasional, just whenever there is an update (which is my preference.)
My favorite author blog has maybe ten authors, so each only posts once every other week. I read a few of them, so when the other authors that I don’t read post, I often still skim over their writing. This is where I find a lot of newsy posts, background information about books, personal details, etc.
So as a general rule, as a reader, I prefer blogs to newsletters. One respondent mentioned web sites: I should have included that as an option. I was equating blogs with web sites, but usually a blog is one part of an author’s web site. I only follow a couple on Facebook because the information there generally comes too often for me.
As a writer, well, I am still trying to decide what to do. I’ve thought about starting a newsletter with information about what I am writing, where I am in the process, how you can pray, if you’re so inclined. It would probably come out no more than quarterly unless there’s exciting news (like landing a contract! 🙂 ). On the other hand, I could just put that information on the blog.
Some good posts I’ve found on the subject:
- Author Newsletter vs. Author Blog: Five Reasons I Prefer a Blog, and Six Reasons You Might Not
- Newsletters and Discoverability
- 14 Content Ideas for Author Newsletters
I’d love to hear your thoughts about writer newsletters, either as a reader or a writer — or both! Please share in the comments.