Regarding Newsletters

Are newsletters effective in today's digital age of Twitter and Facebook? Hard to say. Just as Twitter and Facebook get updated constantly, people's email inboxes get flooded, so what are the chances a newsletter will have any more effect than any other social media? The reason I bring this up is because earlier this week I sent out my very infrequent newsletter with news of The Inner Circle’s upcoming release. Last year, I never thought a newsletter would be worth it, and who knows, maybe it still isn't. But then around the holiday, when my sales started picking up, and more and more readers started contacting me, I figured it wouldn't hurt to start a newsletter. So I did it the old fashioned way -- I created a form on my website where people could put in their name and email address and click submit, and then I would get an email notification, after which I would manually add their name and email address to a special address book in my email client.

As you can imagine, it wasn't my best idea. I knew there were several options for newsletter providers, but the trick was finding the right one. Most of the newsletters I get are for magazines or journals, very few author newsletters. And the author newsletters that I do get ... their quality varies drastically.

Anyhow, after much consideration, I ended up going with Your MailingList Provider. They seemed to provide just what I needed in a basic email newsletter. Initially you can sign up for free, but it's a limited service. I soon upgraded, though my upgrade wasn't by much (the price of the plans increase by how many email addresses you have on your list).

How does one get on my newsletter? By simply signing up. I know some authors will just add people to their newsletter if so-and-so emails them, but I've never liked that approach. Just because I email such-and-such, doesn't mean I want to be put on their newsletter list without my permission. So if someone does email me, I usually encourage them to sign up if they want to be the first to know about upcoming releases (or to have the option of getting advance copies of certain titles, such as The Inner Circle -- see what you missed by not being on my newsletter!?).

I'm sure many of the newsletter providers have some really cool features, and I'm sure they're basically all the same. The newsletter I sent out earlier this week was actually my second newsletter of the year, so I haven't really utilized the features much. Like, it tells me how many people actually opened the newsletter, how many clicks there were per open, what links were clicked and how many times. Even more, it tells me where in the world the newsletters were opened. The United States and United Kingdom and Canada are the top three, which weren't surprising to me, but apparently I have subscribers in France and Japan too. Say whaaaat? Finally, I can also tell what email programs were used to open the newsletter -- Yahoo, AOL, Outlook, even if the newsletter was opened on an iPad.

My point in mentioning all this?

Because it's friggin scary, is why. Talk about Big Brother. Only this is for some silly newsletter. Imagine the other tools used to spy on people on the Internet. I have Google Analytics running on this website, but I haven't checked it in over a year. I remember being fascinated by it, though. Like how it can give the location -- sometimes very specific location -- of vistors, and what kind of browsers they used, and whether they were on DSL or cable modem or mobile. Like I said, scary stuff.

Anyway, so far I'm quite happy with YMLP, though again, my experience is pretty limited. I am curious to know, though, does anyone think newsletters really work better than, say, Twitter or Facebook? Or even posting updates on this blog? Discuss.