2018- The Year of the Series.

ghostintheparkkindlecoverGhost in the Park and the second book in the series, Ghost at the College, have been published and are available on Amazon, Kindle,  and in Kindle Unlimited.  Click here for more info

2018- The Year of the Series.  Last year, my leap into self publishing went well.  I published six books, have the seventh in re-writes, and have begun Ghost on the Downs, the third book in the Unruly Ghost Mysteries.  This year I am forgoing standalone stories and working on my series.  More books in the Unruly Ghost Mysteries, a brand new action-packed ghost series, and a sequel to Crucible Station.

Big plans ahead.  My first six novels are available on Amazon and Kindle.  All my books are in Kindle Unlimited.

Just click the tab above that says “My Books” for links and information.

My newsletter has a free short story for signing up.  Haunting Bryce is a story from the world of Ghost in the Park. Click here to get a free copy of Haunting Bryce.

Comments are always welcome, but please note that comments are moderated.  I have an entire herd of bogus folks making spam comments, so I prefer to screen and delete before these comments get to the page. Thanks!

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Sci-Fi Free Reads!

I don’t know how many of you have explored Instafreebie, but it’s a great place to pick up some free reading material.  From full length novels, to novellas and shorts, there is a ton of stories to choose from.  You can even find some sneak peeks for current novels.

From now until the end of the month, there’s a great science fiction giveaway going on.  My own novella, Winter, is part of the giveaway.

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Just click the banner, and away you go!

Make sure you check it out!

Winter promo

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Crucible Station’s Free Days

Today is the big day. Crucible Station is free on Kindle from now until the 3rd. Make sure you grab your copy while it’s free.

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This book is not my usual style. My favorite thing to write is ghost stories, and I intend to keep that my primary genre from now on. However, every now and then, a writer gets a plot bunny nipping at their heels and they simply can’t ignore it. That’s what happened with Crucible Station.

I have written dystopian once before, when I wrote my novella Winter. I also enjoy reading tales like Hunger Games and Stephen King’s Running Man as well as his The Long Walk. When I got the plot bunny for Crucible Station, I could not get it out of my head. So, I wrote a book.

CS is not as grim as my Winter. Like many of my plots, there’s a great deal of hope running throughout. It also draws heavily on my experiences working with displaced children in a therapeutic residential setting. Most of the kiddos I worked with had issues with violence–and with the abuse they had suffered, it was perfectly understandable. When CS’s main character, Marj, is taken from her family and put in a government home, I used my own experiences to add a touch realism to the tale. However, that does not mean The Home in my story is a replica of where I worked.

Now, I’m happy to get back to work on Ghost on the Downs, and looking forward to beginning the first of the Ghost Chaser’s series, The Man with the Ax. It’s going to be big fun.

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There’s only one way to escape the city

Life in New Liberty is tough, but it’s the only life Marjoram has ever known. At fourteen, she lives with her parents and wears a breathing mask to survive the polluted city streets on the way to school. Crucible Station offers a better life to any citizen smart enough to receive an invitation, but Marj won’t leave her family. When she is thrown into a detestable government home because her family can’t feed her, Crucible Station is the only way out–if she is clever enough to pass The Trials.

A dystopian tale set in post-apocalyptic America.

Get Crucible Station here.

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Book Review- Kyle Harrison Movie Star

Kyle Harrison Movie Star (Kyle in Hollywood Book 1)Kyle Harrison Movie Star by Robertson Tait

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Big fun prequel

As always, Tait’s story is delightfully character driven with a dry and witty humor throughout. I read Scot Free in Hollywood first, and I truly enjoyed this tale of how Hollywood’s rising star, Kyle Harrison, got his start in the movie business. By the time you finish the book, you feel like you know Kyle and would enjoy hanging out with him. The descriptions of how everything works in movie making are fun and interesting. Looking forward to more in this series.

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2018- The Year of the Series

In 2017, I decided to jump into self-publishing with both feet.  I had several books ready to go and wrote several more to go with them.  I had a goal of publishing 6-8 books, I managed 6 published, the 7th is in re-writes, and the 8th is started.  Not a bad year for my writing.  Not bad at all.

Then the holidays hit, and I got a bit overwhelmed.  My dad passed a few years ago and I still miss him terribly.  I also got hit with some hormonal depression due to my not quite being menopaused yet.  I stopped writing for a bit.  I shouldn’t have–nothing was so bad that I couldn’t keep on with my writing–but I took a bit of a break and thought about where I want this writing journey to go next.

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Scamper loves Christmas.

And I made some decisions.  I’m done with Kindle Scout, at least for the foreseeable future.  I got some lovely feedback from one of the editors there, but it isn’t quite the direction I want to take my writing in now.  Some of his advice I am certainly going to take to heart, and adapt things accordingly.  It is lovely to know that a professional editor at a publishing house sees no fatal flaws in my writing style.  My plots style could use some tweaking, and I will continue to nurture it and let it grow.  However, I’ve come to realize that my style of writing is never going to be quite what KS is looking for, and that’s all right.  It was a great way to grow my readership and it has accomplished that.  Now, I feel it’s time to fly on my own.  I can get as much attention by a little paid promotion at launch as I could through KS.

I published some stand along books in 2017 and started my first series, the Unruly Ghost Mysteries.  2018 is the year of the series for me.  My goal is to get the next 2 books in the Ghost series published.  Along with that, I will start the next series I’ve been very excited about.  It will also be ghost stories, but this one will me more action oriented.  Think the TV show, Supernatural, but only the ghost side of things.  I’d like to get the first 4 books of that series published.  They will be slightly faster reads, so I think it’s doable. In addition to those goals, my upcoming book, Crucible Station, needs a sequel.  I am not certain if there is enough of the story to make it a trilogy, but there is certainly enough for a sequel.  That’s 7 books planned for this year.  We’ll see how I do.

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Brian needed an “ugly Christmas sweater” for work.  This one is so perfectly Brian that I can’t look at it without snickering.

I also need to begin thinking about the advertising side of writing more.  Now that my writing is making some money, it’s time I start figuring out what paid promotion I should undertake and carry it out.  That side of the business is still a bit murky, but there’s great advice out there on how to get started.

That’s it.  Those are my plans for the shiny New Year.  Now that the holidays are over and I’m feeling replenished, I can’t wait to get started!

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We had lights outside this year!  And little trees made of tomato cages and tinsel.

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Big Fun Dystopian Giveaway

Love Hunger Games, Zombie Apocalypse, Mad Max, and other tales of our post apocalyptic anti-utopian world?  Have I got a deal for you.

My Dystopian novella, Winter, is in a great big giveaway!  The Sci-Fi/ Dystopian giveaway goes from now until the 25th.  There’s a great group of books and novellas in this promotion, so if you enjoy a good end of the world as we know it tale, this is the giveaway for you.

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Just click the pic!

About Winter:

Traveling through the bleak world after the explosions that caused the sudden decline of civilization in North America, Charlie must find the supplies that she and her family need to survive.  In a world where nothing grows, and every other human she meets is a possible danger, Charlie’s once normal life has become one of monotony and caution.  Though the people in the city are a threat, Charlie’s own ignorance of what has happened to the world frightens her far more.  With that in mind, Charlie undertakes a dangerous journey to acquire the books she needs to learn what has happened to America, and what she can expect from the future.

Winter promo

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Superheroes for sale- Cheap!

Superheroes for sale- Cheap!

There’s an awesome book promotion going on now through the 15th.  Superhero books are on sale for $.99, including my own Nick of Time.  DN Promotions is heading up this super sale, and David always does a good job.  DavidNethBooks.com/Promo

Stop buy and get your own superhero today!

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Nick has to save people. Every. Damn. Day.
Nick Callaghan’s life has become an exhausting series of strange coincidences. Wherever he goes, Nick finds himself in a position to help others when they need it most. From foiling an armed stalker to grabbing a child in a broken roller-coaster car, Nick’s life is constant chaos. He has no idea what sort of force could have turned him into the world’s guardian angel, but he wants it to stop. There’s only one person who knows what Irish legend he’s fallen afoul of, but Grandmother isn’t talking.

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Because it’s MY Blog, That’s Why.

I moderate all the comments on my blog.  I have a small herd of spammers trying, time after time, to comment about my improving my SEO by giving them money, etc.  Spam has no place on my blog, comments from people do.  Since I began this blog, back in 2012, I have never screened comments for content.

Until today.

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Until today it was all sunshine and sunflowers.

I’ve had comments from folks who didn’t agree with me on some point or another.  I’ve had comments from people who didn’t seem to like me too much.  I’ve had comments from people who didn’t like my writing style.

I approved them all.

I write a blog and I often discuss my opinion of something.  I don’t expect everyone to agree.  I have a conversational tone than sometimes gets a bit snarky and humorous.  I don’t expect everyone to dig that.  I’m a chainsaw-owning, opinionated woman, I don’t expect everyone to like me.

And that’s okay.  Rock on.  I love every single one of you.

But today, I had a comment that went quickly from someone who disagrees with me on an issue to someone that thinks one subset of human beings is inherently superior to another subset of human beings.  They actually used the word “superior.”  Out of habit, I almost approved the comment and responded to it. Then I stopped myself, thought for a moment, and put it straight in the trash.

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Baby swallows judge you, superior dude.  They do not approve.

If you want to spout your “My people are superior to all the other people” nonsense, you can get right the fuck off of my blog, you judgmental twat.

I will post all sorts of comments on my blog, but I am not going to post any sort of hate speech, whether it’s blatant or thinly veiled.  I’m not certain why this person thought I would post that comment.  I am not a member of the “superior” human group this person was going on about.  Even if I was, I would never buy what this twat was selling.  I know all sorts of people who are in that group and the vast majority are not douches.

I love all the peoples, in all their beautiful diversity.  This God fellow, he must love variety, he made so many different kinds of us.

Twatface also seemed like they hadn’t even read the post they were commenting on.  They missed the entire point.  I’m not surprised.

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Billy also judges you, douche-canoe.  He finds you wanting.

So, there you have it.  I used to never screen actual non-spammy comments.  Now, I almost never do.  Comment away, gentle readers!  Unless you post some crap about one group of people being all better than everyone else, I will probably approve your comment.

But if any trolls want to make free with the hate speech, they can pedal that crap somewhere else.

Because it’s my blog.  That’s why.

 

 

Crucible KS promo

Crucible Station is in the middle of a Kindle Scout campaign. I could really use some nominations. All it takes to nominate is an Amazon account and sixty seconds of your time. It’s easy peasy. All nominators will get a free copy of the e-book whether it is selected by Kindle Press or not. If it is not selected, I will announce the free dates here shortly after I publish it. If it is selected, nominating it will be the only way you can get a free copy.

Click here to see Crucible Station’s Kindle Scout campaign.

 

 

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So you have to write a blurb for your novel.

The blurb.  That tiny bit of writing that stands guard at the gate and decides if people will buy your book or not.  I’m in a small herd of writing groups and folks are always asking for help with their blurbs.  It’s understandable.  First, a writer has to have a good cover to get people to click on it and then they have to have an engaging blurb that convinces readers they must read this book.

It’s difficult to write an effective blurb.  That’s exactly why I read so many that are not doing their job.  Do yourself a favor before you write your blurb.  Do some research on what makes a blurb effective and go to the top sellers in your genre and read some examples of good blurbs.

I’m going to start this rodeo by attempting to write the worst blurb ever and then I’ll pick it apart and tell you why it sucks.

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It’s over a hundred years in our future and Earth doesn’t look at all like itself.  The planet has become so polluted that few things will grow and those plants only grow in a few scattered domed enclosures. People either work on various food and energy farms, or they are shoved into giant metropolises the size of America’s former states. The city governors rule everything and if you break the rules you are put to death, which they call recycling.

Marj, her mom Daisy, and her dad Hawk live in a tiny apartment in a skyscraper in the city. Her mom has lost her job and there isn’t enough food to go around. Marj often has to skip meals, but her teacher, Ms. Cherry, is very kind and tries to slip Marj food during lunchtime at school. Eventually, Marj is taken from her family and shipped off to The Home. At The Home, a nasty teacher named Miss Hyacinth is the bane of her existence. If it wasn’t for her friends Crocus and Hosta, and a nice staff member named Mr. Badger, Marj wouldn’t be able to stand it.

A lucky break comes in the form of unrest amongst the wards of The Home. Marj jumps at the chance to abandon ship and sneaks outside as quietly as a mouse. But Miss Hyacinth has an ax to grind and drags Marj back to The Home just as she was about to cowboy up and accept an invitation to The Trials at Crucible Station.

No one is allowed to interfere with an invitation to The Trials. Citizens who pass The Trials get to work on The Project, which is said to be for the benefit of all mankind. Will she pass The Trials and get to work on The Project? Will she fail and be shipped off to work at a farm? Or, even worse, will The Trials end up killing her? You’ll never know unless you read Crucible Station!

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If that was my blurb, no one would ever read my book.

Right. I must say, that is perhaps the worst blurb I’ve ever written in my life. I’ve done it in paragraphs and highlighted a common blurb faux pas in each one, so let’s take them in order.

Paragraph 1-Too much world-building.

The easiest way to lose your potential reader is to bore them to tears with far too much world-building. Yes, if your book is set in a dystopian world, or on a spaceship, or in a rabid wombat habitat, you have to let your readers know. This should not take more than a sentence or two and you get bonus points for combining that bit of world-building with something that tells the reader a little bit about your main character. Sentence after sentence of world-building has no place in a blurb. It’s boring and you will lose your readers.

Paragraph 2-Too many characters.

Oh my goodness, could I have added any more character names to that paragraph? Let’s count them up, shall we? Good golly, there’s eight of them. Even if you don’t shove them all into the same paragraph, too many characters take time away from your main character. Your top job in writing a blurb is to tell your readers why they want to read an entire book about your MC. You absolutely cannot do this if you have an entire cast of characters in your blurb. Each added name actually make’s your blurb less interesting. The meat of your blurb should be about your MC and you could add another character to that, two at most. More than that will confuse and bore your reader.

Also in this paragraph, too many details. A few details are a good thing and can make your blurb more interesting. Too many details will do the opposite. I don’t need to say it’s a tiny apartment, and that it’s in a skyscraper, and that it’s in the city. You wouldn’t expect a skyscraper to be out in the woods, nor would you think a tiny apartment was a one family dwelling. To be honest, it isn’t important where the family lives at all, that’s just useless and boring information. I also go on and on about Marj not having food when one small mention is enough. Your readers are not stupid, you don’t have to spoon-feed them every detail.

There’s also a cliché that I slipped in there.

Paragraph 3-Too many clichés.

This is my favorite paragraph. I tried to stuff as many clichés into the short paragraph as I could. Clichés give a writer a false sense of excitement where their blurb is concerned. Instead of looking for engaging language that is specific to their book, they jot down an overused cliché thinking that it makes the blurb more exciting and gives the reader more information than it actually does. Clichés do not add excitement, they are old hat for a reason. (See what I did there?) Look through your blurb and kill clichés with fire. Find your own engaging language, which is pertinent to your particular story, and leave the clichés in the trash where they belong.

Paragraph 4-Too many questions.

In a blurb, a single question can be a quite effective means of grabbing the reader’s attention. For each additional question you add, this effect is greatly diminished. Personally, I try to avoid questions in blurbs altogether. I try to keep my blurbs short, engaging, and tight. I can’t do that if I throw questions into the mix. An engaging and interesting blurb will cause the reader to ask their own questions. Once again, you don’t have to spoon-feed them. Let the meat of your story speak for itself.

In addition to having too many questions, this paragraph of the blurb revisits the arena of too much information. The last thing you want to end your blurb with is a load of world-building.

There’s also the dreaded plea for readers, complete with exclamation mark.  No.

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Less is more, except when it comes to sushi.

So, you seem to ask, what should I put in my blurb?

There’s a simple formula of questions a writer should ask themselves when writing a blurb. Keep in mind that the answers to these questions need to be written in a logical order while using language which engages the reader.

Who is the MC?
What does the MC want?
What stands in the MC’s way?
What will happen if the MC fails to get what they want?

These questions are a tried and true method of getting to the meat of your story without a ton of unnecessary and boring details. To illustrate this method, here is the actual blurb I wrote for Crucible Station. Is it the awesomeness blurb ever blurbbed? No, I’m sure it isn’t. But it’s not bad and I have already had some readers say that this blurb makes them want to read the rest of the story. That’s the blurb’s job. The only job a blurb has is to get readers to want to read the rest of the story.


Life in New Liberty is tough, but it’s the only life Marjoram has ever known. At fourteen, she lives with her parents and wears a breathing mask to survive the polluted city streets on the way to school. Crucible Station offers a better life to any citizen smart enough to receive an invitation, but Marj won’t leave her family. When she is thrown into a detestable government home because her family can’t feed her, Crucible Station is the only way out–if she is clever enough to pass The Trials.


That’s it. Short and sweet. The only characters are Marj and her family. The blurb centers around Marj at all times. We learn a little about the world of Crucible Station by seeing how it affects my main character. Every sentence in this blurb is about Marj. It isn’t about the world, the city, the hardship, or even Crucible Station. It is from the point of view of the main character, but not in first person.

My biggest critique of my own blurb is that the stakes (what does the MC want?) Are a little wishy-washy. The primary stakes are that Marj wants a better life. Her secondary stakes are that she doesn’t want to leave her family, but she has to do so in order to improve her life. It’s difficult to manage a blurb for sci-fi dystopian story in five hundred characters or less so that it can be used for Kindle Scout. Considering that five hundred character limit, I think I did a good job.

In fact, I think this is a great way to get to the meat of your blurb and simplify it. Write your blurb and then cut it down so that it is five hundred characters or less. It is a very effective way to discover what is actually important in your blurb. Once it’s cut, you can carefully add back anything that you feel truly adds interest and clarity.

Crucible KS promo

Speaking of Kindle Scout

Crucible Station is in the middle of a Kindle Scout campaign. I could really use some nominations. All it takes to nominate is an Amazon account and sixty seconds of your time. It’s easy peasy. All nominators will get a free copy of the e-book whether it is selected by Kindle Press or not. If it is not selected, I will announce the free dates here shortly after I publish it. If it is selected, nominating it will be the only way you can get a free copy.

Click here to see Crucible Station’s Kindle Scout campaign.

Posted in Crucible Station, Fiction, Self Publishing, writing, Writing Advice | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Guest Blogger- Author Lincoln Cole

Today’s Blog is by awesome guest blogger, Lincoln Cole.  I met Lincoln through my involvement through the Kindle Scout program and if any of you want to know about Scout, Lincoln is the guy to ask.  His blog and the guide he has written about Scout are full of useful information and stats.  Overall, Lincoln is well on his way to being a successful and very marketing savvy Indie author.

Lincoln Cole

In addition, Lincoln has written a book I truly enjoyed, Raven’s Peak and has a new release right now that I pre-ordered because I was so excited about it.  The Everett Exorcism is available on Amazon and you can grab a copy right now for $.99.

 

Guest blogger- Lincoln Cole

When I launched the first several books I wrote, basically all I did was hit the publish button and hope for the best. My books weren’t edited as tight as they should have been and I had no marketing strategy or goals. To be honest, they actually did fairly well considering how unprepared I was for all of it, and I learned a lot of lessons since then.

The next stage of my career was actually releasing a book through Amazon’s Kindle Scout program after I won a contract, and that changed things quite a bit. For one thing, it meant my book was exclusive to Amazon and I didn’t have any control over the pricing. It also meant that Amazon would put a lot of work into the marketing, at least early in the process, and as a result, it has done fairly well and sold around ten thousand copies across the series.

But, with my newest book I wanted to try things a little differently. I wanted to take my time, prepare a lot more, and put everything I had learned through my first few book launch attempts to use. I set up landing pages, promotional marketing campaigns, requested reviews from everyone I could find, and more. As of now, I have dozens of new release promotions planned during the launch (a horror book out around Halloween) and about four-hundred people reading advance copies to leave reviews around the launch. It’s my most ambitious launch by a long shot and hopefully it will pay off in results.

If you’re curious about reading my launch plan, you can it here. I’m running it like a Netflix style book launch with book II coming out a week after book I (and right on Halloween) with the pre-orders for all three books linked on the site before it goes live.

If you want to check out The Everett Exorcism and the rest of the World of Shadows series, you can find it here.

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The Top 4 Pitfalls of Running a Newsletter

At first, I was resistant to having an author newsletter.  After talking to some readers who told me of their love of author newsletters, including a friend who subscribes to over twenty of them, I changed my mind.  My newsletter has been live for a few months now and I have to say that I love it.  I love writing it and more than that, I love hearing from readers.

There’s all sorts of articles out there about how to write an effective newsletter, how to set it up, and which service to use.  I’m not going to go into any of that.  This article is specifically to address some of the pitfalls that those who have a newsletter can fall into, or even do on purpose.

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Don’t send multiple newsletters a week.

Nothing frustrates a newsletter subscriber more than getting multiple mailings every week, sometimes several in one day.  I once got on the mailing list of some company that sells flower bulbs. Oh, hell no.  The sheer number of emails I got from that company not only had me hitting the unsubscribe button, it made me vow that for as long as I continue to exist on this big blue marble, I was never, ever, going to order one damn thing from that company.  Ever.  Want to piss your readers off so that they will never read another one of your books?  Send them too many emails.

Do send regular emails.

According to the readers I have spoken to, the sweet spot for how many newsletters you send out is once a week to once every two weeks.  Readers do enjoy hearing from you on a regular basis.  Those writers who only send out an email once a month are going to have subscribers that forget who they are and then stroll down to that unsubscribe button.  Once every week or two, with the very rare extra newsletter about a special or release, is a good rule of thumb.

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I love my small town P O Box!

Don’t set up a virtual P O Box.

To comply with United States anti-spam laws, any company or person that sends out newsletters with commercial content must have a physical mailing address on every newsletter they send.  Writers, for obvious reasons, don’t want to use their actual home address.  Browsing this issue online, you will see a plethora of folks telling you to just use some free service that gives you a virtual snail mail address.  That’s an oxymoron in itself.  A virtual address does not make you compliant with anti-spam laws.  The law is very specific. You need a real snail mail address to comply with the laws.  Those who ignore this law can be prosecuted.

Do get a real physical address.

It’s truly not that hard or that expensive if you are willing to shop around.  My personal research sent me straight to the good old United States Post Office.  If one isn’t too picky about what town one buys a P O Box from, this was by far the cheapest option.  I have relatives in a nearby small town.  Small?  We are talking the tiniest cutest little town ever.  I love that place.  Their post office is only open a couple hours a day.  My P O Box costs about $40 a year.  Far cheaper than in my hometown. I love my small town P O Box!

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Best spam-blocker ever.

Don’t share your subscriber list. Ever.

I keep reading about innocent folks who end up on newsletter lists they never signed up for.  Often, they suddenly find themselves on fifty newsletters they never signed up for.  How did this happen?  Well, it all starts when you share your subscriber list’s emails.  While newsletter swaps (writers sharing other authors’ information in their own newsletter) are common and awesome, the instant you share your subscriber’s email addresses with another writer or even worse, a service, you are breaking privacy laws.   To have a newsletter that is compliant with anti-spam and privacy laws, you must post a privacy policy.  Know what’s in that privacy policy? A statement that you will not share people’s personal information, like their email, for example.  To follow the laws, subscribers have to actually decide to subscribe and people who send the newsletters have to keep private information private.

Do use lawful means to build your newsletter subscriber list.

Use places like Instafreebie to build subscribers.  Use newsletter swaps where another writer puts some information about your newsletter in their own newsletter.  They share your information rather than anyone exchanging private information about your subscribers.  Run from any person or service that asks you to provide the email addresses of your subscribers.  It is absolutely wrong to share your readers’ personal information.  Build your list in compliance with the anti-spam and privacy laws.

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So many ads.

Don’t have nothing but ads in your newsletter.

If your newsletter is nothing but:
Buy my book!
Buy my friends book!
Look at these promos!
Book release!
Advertising, advertising, advertising!

Nothing is going to turn your readers off faster than each newsletter being chock full of nothing but advertisements.

Do have some actual news in your newsletter.

What’s going on in your life?  What are you working on right now? What book have you read lately and what did you think of it?  By all means, tell your subscribers when you have a new release or a sale going on, but don’t let that be all your content is.  Have some news in your newsletter.  Write a short story that’s only for your subscribers, or a short that they get to read before anyone else. I don’t just mean sneak peeks of upcoming books, though that is great on occasion. Give them a real reason to keep opening those emails from you.  Advertising your books and other people’s books should only be part of your content, not the entire shebang.

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I hope this article helps answer some questions you have about newsletters and I hope it helps you steer clear of practices that will put you on the wrong side of the laws protecting readers’ privacy and helping us keep our email boxes from being filled with more spam than they already are.  The true secret to building a subscriber list is having a newsletter people enjoy reading and getting the word out in an upfront way.  That’s all there is too it.

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