Mailing lists – why?

I’d been planning on doing this blog for about a month, now, because next month I’m a part of a number of different promotions aimed at increasing my mailing list.

Does that feel like icky marketing stuff to you?

Because it did to me for quite a while – give me all your information so I can pester you with buy links! – and I’m coming around on this being a lot more than that, and nothing like as scammy and sell-y as I thought it was.

Stick with me on that.

The reason the timing is… interesting… is the ‘pocalypse going on among a bunch of the Amazon-exclusive authors right now. I’m not going to talk a lot about it, because it’s business-y and it’s highly data-driven, and… well, a lot of the authors involved are kind of struggling not to sound whiny, despite some very sound data running around to support them. I try very hard to keep my positive voice on, when I’m in public, because the internet is forever, but you can’t blame them, when they’re seeing a business model potentially impode on them.

And that’s the part that’s relevant, here.

I write books. I think they’re pretty good. Some other people – some of whom I don’t even know – think they’re pretty good, too. That’s cool. Hard truth is that I wouldn’t spend anywhere near as much time writing as I do if I didn’t think I was building toward supporting myself as a writer, someday. I’d watch a lot more TV. I’d play video games. Online gaming is fun. The people out there are my tribe, and I miss ‘em. Sincerely.
I’d start a book once or twice a year and pick at it until the sparkle died, and then I’d start a new one when I got energetic. I can’t tell you for sure that I’d ever finish another novel.

Does that disappoint you? Make me a bad person?

My books are a vivid, intoxicating world that I live in. Sometimes I run the same piece of plot a dozen times over, a little different each time, because that plot point is so much fun. It’s how I’ve gotten to sleep at night for as long as I can remember. Writing, though, is an act of taxidermy. Whatever live creature was living in my head, I hunt it down, kill it, and then try to preserve as artfully as possible its most important features. It’s work, and while it’s satisfying work (the shelf of raw pages I have in my office of all of my editing copies is something I am darned proud of), it’s still work. I’d rather be hunting down dragons and making Sly fussy at me. (I abandoned a group of gamers to really take writing seriously. I’ve been thinking about them today. Shout out to Ace, Tin Man, Sam, X, Pen, the other Sam, and all the rest, past and present. We made it through some rough stuff, but real life always wins, doesn’t it?) I can go live in my stories any time I want. I write them down because it’s hard, and I like finishing hard things, and because there’s this idea that someday I could be an author whose books are her career.

And that’s so exciting. Don’t get me wrong at all. Writing isn’t some commercial drudgery I do like bagging groceries while I wait for a magic movie deal. It’s a passion, and I love it.

Best job in the world.

But this is my intended career, and I look at it as such. And a career all by myself (plus JJ) means I have to have a plan. And a business model. It would be silly to assume that either the plan or the business model would ever stay written in stone, but when one of them implodes – to pick a number for the sake of argument, not to bring the current situation into it – say, by dropping predictable income by 75-90%… well, you need to have a better plan waiting for you.

Hello, mailing list.

So this post is well-timed, but the fact that I need a mailing list to create stability in my writing career is totally not the point of the post. Just kind of opening up with a long (surprisingly long) explanation of why I have mixed interests here.

Let’s take it as a pitch, instead.

Why should you sign up for my mailing list? What should you expect from it?

My mailing list is how you hear from me about anything that I have finished and headed to market. I will probably always post similar information here, but unless you’ve subscribed to my blog, you won’t get the update unless you remember you wanted to check in. And while I try to be interesting enough on a predictable interval that you might come check in, anyway, a lot of my sales are only going to be 3-5 days at the longest, and some of my promotions will only be 1-2 days long. There’s a potential that you’ll miss out.

I also offer my mailing list opportunities to beta read (before anyone else gets to see a new novel, a chance at having an impact on how they turn out) or review advanced copies (free books that aren’t for sale yet). I will also be offering free short stories, novelettes and novellas to my mailing list, and I absolutely don’t rule out free novels. I just don’t have any planned, right now.

Amazon will tell you when I have a new book out (sometimes… I subscribed to get updates for myself and haven’t gotten any, so I am still working on what I need to do in order to get this to work, or if Amazon chooses its own timing for sending out new release notifications) but a lot of authors are making different decisions for the future on where their books will be available. If you prefer other retailers, I can tell you when my books go up for sale on iBooks or GooglePlay. Or if they are coming off of Kindle Unlimited in the near future (which I keep planning on doing for Sam & Sam, but keep finding one more thing I want to do before I officially drop out), or if I plan on enrolling them sometime soon. I try to keep my availability changes up to date with my mailing list, so that they can make decisions in advance for when and where they want to get my work.

When you sign up for my mailing list, you’ll get a set of options for which parts of my mailing list you’re interested in. If you just sign up for one of my pen name mailing lists, all you’ll get from me are release notices and any specific sale and availability information that is relevant to titles by that pen name. If you sign up for promotions, though, you’ll get notices about any group sales I’m participating in. Most of these are going to be $0.99 or free sales, so if you’re in the market for work that is in the same genre as mine and currently available for cheap, I can help you find big groups of active authors who are creating a lot of content that you might enjoy. I’ve got three of these coming up in November, so I’m looking at potentially hundreds of titles that will be discounted or priced cheaply for the events.

Because of the work I’m putting into #ProjectNovember, my mailing list is getting an extra helping of activity from me, but in a normal month, I might have one release or promotion that I participate with. Sign up for promotions and decide you don’t have as much time to read new stuff as you thought? Just let me know, and I can drop you back to just the pen name e-mails.

Because a mailing list is an invitation to talk to me.

No kidding.

I love hearing from readers, and I often include invitations to contact me for specific things. E-mails come from my e-mail address (which will be changing soon, because gmail and a few of the other big service providers think that it’s hinky when a big block of e-mails come from an @gmail address) and you are welcome to hit the reply button to contact me directly. I’ve got a contact form here (look up… yup, further up… yeah, that one) and that works just as well, but I get that it feels impersonal, like filling out a form at the grocery store to get your shopper card. I felt weird using it to send myself a test e-mail to make sure it worked. (Is that weird?)

I may not always be able to open into an in-depth conversation with you, depending on how my deadlines are stacking up and how full any given week gets, but I will do my best to answer questions as quickly as I can and to tell you how much I appreciate hearing from you. Because I do. I can see when someone buys my book on Amazon, and I can see when they read it through Kindle Unlimited, but it isn’t really a real person like that. Having real people (who don’t know me!) read and enjoy my work… Well, I may be a cold-blooded capitalist in this for the money, but it really does make my day.

So that’s my pitch. You can click the mailing list button up on my top menus (next to that ‘contact me’ one, or you can click here. It’s going to take you directly to the signup form, and you should hear back from me soon after that. Welcome aboard!

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