Friday, July 12, 2013

Author Newsletters and Mailing Lists: Case Study

I sent out the newsletter to my mailing list on July 5, how hard could that be?
... so... yeah.

The first time I sent the email I attached a PDF with an excerpt of book#2 in the Knitting in the City series, Friends Without Benefits: An Unrequited Romance (which I will, for the purposes of simplicity, now refer to as FWB). I have no idea how many people received it and if they received the attachment. I do know that I received lots of emails, tweets, and facebook posts from people stating it never arrived.

What I learned: You cannot use *just* your email to send a newsletter or an email to your mailing list. You need to use a mailing list/newsletter webapp (otherwise it will be caught by a spam filter)

What I did: I shopped around for a mailing list management service and finally settled on 'MailChimp'. Here is why:
1. It is free as long as you send less than 2000 emails a month (each person on your list counts as 1 email; so, if you have 1999 subscribers to your mailing list you can send 1 email a month to all 1999 subscribers.)
2. You can create subgroups within lists
3. It tracks who opened your newsletter and what they clicked on
4. It manages bounce backs
5. You can create a webform for subscribers (ask them questions about themselves, etc.)
6. People can unsubscribe at any time
7. The newsletter wizard is wicked user friendly; in fact, the whole thing is user friendly.
8. You can schedule mailings
9. You can tailor mailings to subgroups
10. Need I go on?

Outcome: I asked a few of my readers to be guinea pigs for a test newsletter mailing; I wanted to make sure that MailChimp would actually penetrate the spam filters that had blocked my first attempt. About 20 people signed up; I know who has opened the email and who has not. I was able to reach out to those who couldn't and found out why. EASYPEASY PEEPS!

Conclusions: If you are going to have a mailing list (and I STRONGLY recommend that you do because it is the only way to ensure direct contact with fans of your books) then you need to invest the time into setting up a mailing list through a mailing list management software. I recommend MailChimp


  1. I got MailChimp last week. For authors who can't find the time to set up MailChimp themselves, there are virtual assistants who can set it up for you. (That's what I did.)

    1. Ohhh! Interesting! I didn't find it too cumbersome to set up but it did take some time...

  2. Have you resent the newsletter again? I went diving in my spam folders and still haven't found anything from you.

    1. Jordan! send me your email again. Pennreid AT gmail DOT com. I'll go diving in mail chimp to find out what happened!