Not Shouting into the Void

I’ve been pondering creating a solo author mailing list recently. As the audience for this blog is likely to contain plenty of people who like my writing, I thought I’d ask you all about your experiences with mailing lists.

Currently, Simon Cantan and I have a joint list: however—while I believe readers’ tastes often bridge several genres—as my catalogue of work that isn’t humorous fantasy or humorous science-fiction grows, the possible gap between those mostly interested in our joint works and those mostly interested in my solo work also grows. Therefore, I’ve been pondering whether to create a solo list, and if so, what approach to adopt to mailings.

Not, perhaps, what one wishes from a mailing list
Public Domain

The Higgins-Cantan list is very release- and deal-focused: we send details of books that are about to be released, details of new releases, free stories, and deals on our books; we don’t send updates on our pets, reviews of films, or other non-book content unless it’s relevant to our books. However, that’s not the only way.

I read every email I receive from various author’s mailing lists (frequent readers of this blog will be unsurprised) and don’t consider any of the emails unwanted, but there are only some author’s whose mailings I habitually leave until I have time to read them properly rather than speed-read to see if that particular email is engaging enough to warrant extra focus. After a brief self-survey, my preferences seem to be for mailings that usually have several of the following:

  • Tells me about new releases and deals;

  • Contains something about the author rather than just books that are available;

  • Suggests other interesting books or items;

  • Isn’t extremely long and dense: I find reading a narrow column of text tedious after a while, so extensive paragraphs don’t hold my interest as well;

  • Isn’t extremely brief: while I don’t want to wade through pages of text, I want more than a reminder the author exists.

The more of these an author’s mailings usually contain, the higher the frequency can be without starting to feel overdone.

Those of you who subscribe to author’s mailing lists, what keeps you there? What content do you enjoy receiving from an author’s mailing list? What content don’t you enjoy receiving from an author’s mailing list? What makes you unsubscribe?

2 thoughts on “Not Shouting into the Void

  1. I unsubscribe fast if I get “too many” emails. For me that seems to be more than one a week, especially if they are all pretty similar.

    As for what keeps me there, my list is similar to yours: a feeling of connection with the author (usually through personal stories or candid pictures), brevity of the newsletter itself, and not too often. My preference for receiving is once a month, though I can deal with weekly if it’s interesting consistently enough.

    For my own author newsletter, I probably don’t send often enough. It ends up being about quarterly.


    1. Cheers for the insight.

      Part of my pondering is working out how a mailing differs from a blog or social media: from a sender perspective, mailing obviously puts a message in front of a recipient in a way that the others don’t; but, to be useful/entertaining/&c. to recipients, it needs to provide an experience that isn’t found by following an author on social media or following their blog. So, that suggests another good “rule” is to not just duplicate content from those sources.

      I had an “oh yeah” moment when you mentioned your mailing list, so I suspect it is a little infrequent to keep you at the front of reader’s minds; admittedly, I see you on lots of other sites so am probably a poor data point for judging how visible your list makes you. From what I remember, the content is engaging.


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