Is There Such a Thing as Autumn Resolutions?

Maybe there should be! I’m lucky enough that my boys are in school this fall – though with cases in Poland rising, that might be the case for much longer. I take every day as it comes – what else can you do? – and keep a plan in my pocket for the inevitable days they’ll be virtual schooling instead. It hasn’t happened yet – but I have no doubt it will.

But back to my point: I’m trying to get better about newsletters. Until now, I’ve been very low-key about my newsletters, sending only a few a year, when there are things going on. I’ve started rethinking this strategy – because really, it’s not much of a strategy at all. I want to be better about communication on the whole – and having a more robust newsletter game seems to be tied into that.

So I’ve been plotting to revitalize my newsletter strategy.

Part One of my plan has been to add a Reader Magnet. At one point, I thought to use the various short stories and free reads as a reader magnet – have them all located behind a lock that only newsletter subscribers could access. But trying to set that up proved to be far more trouble than it was worth (at the time, anyway), and I hate the idea of having so many things behind a lock. Besides, I don’t have short stories or freebies associated with every book, and I couldn’t see why someone would register for a newsletter to get a freebie for a book they hadn’t read.

Of course, that meant I had to write something specifically as a reader magnet. It took a while – and I won’t lie, a website with a bunch of ideas about possible reader magnets – but then I stumbled upon the idea of writing a gamebook.

Even if you don’t recognize the term, you probably know what a gamebook is. When I was a kid back in the 1980s, there was a series of books written in 2nd person POV. Each book focused on a specific setting, or historical event, or fantastical adventure. You’d be reading along, happily pretending you were in the action, when on the second or third page, you’d be faced with a choice. Turn left or right? Trust the alien or not? Jump from the plane or roll under the desk?

And depending on what you chose – you’d turn to a different page and continue the story, with different things happening based on your choice. Sometimes you’d succeed, sometimes you’d fail, sometimes you’d turn into a vampire, sometimes you were killed by aliens or a runaway train or dysentery. It was a huge amount of fun – and when you were done, you could go back and try again.

That’s a gamebook – essentially, you’re playing a game. I can’t use the name we all knew those books by, though, since the term is under copyright protection and the owners are way protective of it.

The original suggestion was to use an existing book and write a gamebook based on that. But I’ve had the start of a story sitting on my hard drive for a while now, and didn’t know where to go with it. Amazingly, once I decided to go everywhere with it, writing was a snap. I wrote a 50,000 word game book in about three weeks. Which is just ridiculous.

(Then again – so’s the gamebook. Hopefully it’s more ridiculous fun than just plain ridiculous.)

The Twitter ad for the book. There’s an animated version of it that just cracks me up.

With my Reader Magnet in hand (and waiting to be downloaded – if you’re a current subscriber, check your email for the link, or shoot me a line and I’ll help you out), now I’m ready to move on to Part Two:

Actually make sure I produce newsletters.

Obviously, I subscribe to newsletters myself, both from other authors and other subjects. I’ve noticed that everyone approaches them differently. One newsletter I follow is weekly, a lengthy email of funny stories about parenting fails and successes, and always ends with a “buy my book!” One is monthly, and basically rounds up a month’s worth of best-in-show of various recipes. One is more like my old standard: I only get this newsletter when there’s something to purchase.

I know I can’t do a weekly newsletter. Given that I went almost a whole year without any kind of newsletter, doing something that often seems like too much of a leap.

But I also know that I can’t keep doing the old version – only when I have something to sell – and expect anyone to remember I exist. Or want to buy my books when they do.

So I’m thinking to try something in the middle. Monthly, or maybe mostly monthly. I have a few ideas for what I can include (sneak peaks, sale info, talking about the marketing side of self-publishing, I even saw a suggestion to record myself reading portions of my book, which is intriguing).

The idea, as I understand it, is to make readers used to getting my newsletters. Even excited about them – so that when I do put out that call for a new book, or a new sale – they are already set to open the email announcing it, and eager to click that link to buy.

From a pure marketing standpoint – it makes all the sense. It’s free ad space to a receptive and willing audience. What could possibly go wrong?!?!

(Never say that to someone with an imagination, by the way.)

I used to blog all the time. Before the kids, even when my oldest was small. I was always writing journal entries, on at least a weekly basis.

It shouldn’t be… but even this much feels a little bit daunting. What if there’s a month when I can’t think of what to say? (Or worse: what if I think all the things to say, and no one wants to hear them?)

Nope! Positive thoughts only. My kids are in school, my grocery delivery arrived on time, my house is clean, and my cat has forgiven me most of my transgressions.

And besides – I have a whole month to figure out what to put in the next newsletter anyway. Scads of time, right? Right.

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