by: JA Andrews, Guest Author
It’s officially time for Indie Author Task #347: Set up newsletter swaps.
Your book launch is on the horizon, and the time has come to get newsletter swaps organized.
Easy enough. People are always posting about swaps in the AuthorsRUs group. You scroll past a few bad choices, and suddenly, lights shine down from the heavens above, and angels break into song.
Ima Ryter is looking for newsletter swaps for her new release, “WereVampShifter Stolen Brides of Pemberley.” Ima Ryter!
You’re so excited you have to fix six types in your comment that you’d be happy to share hers, in exchange for her promoting your book, “Love on the Pickleball Court.”
You reread to make sure you sound professional, and not like an author overawed by another author’s incredible success, but when you aim for that Return button, a tiny woman appears, sitting on the top of your screen.
“Don’t do that.” She’s in a smart pantsuit. Not as feminine as it could be, but reasonably stylish. And she’s wearing glasses severe enough to put a crabby librarian to shame.
You stare at her. “Are you real?”
“I’m the Newsletter Fairy.” She doesn’t sound like a fairy. She sounds more exasperated than magical. “And don’t send that comment.”
“But I want to.”
“You don’t know if you want to, because you haven’t thought it through.” She sighed. “And because authors are easily distracted by shiny things. If they’d just focus, they wouldn’t need me, and I could get a better job. Like the Five Star Review Fairy.”
“I’m not always distracted by—” you start.
The fairy snaps her finger and a silver pendant flashes into existence, dangling from her fingers. It’s like a sparkling, shimmering star and it’s gorgeous.
“Ooooh,” you breathe. “That should be in a book! It could be a family heirloom. but there are no daughters to hand it down to, so the son—who’s a football player—wears it, but keeps it under his shirt so no one will make fun of him and—”
The fairy clears her throat and you refocus on her.
“Ah,” you say with a guilty smile. “Easily distracted. I see what you mean.”
“The Plot Twist Idea Fairy tells me it’s good for your creativity, but…” She snaps and the pendant disappears. She points back at the screen. “Don’t send that comment.”
“Because you’re launching a new book.”
“I know! And this is Ima Ryter! If I had a tenth of her audience, I could quit my soul-sucking day job at Et Tu Brûlée’s, and never make another crème brûlée. Ever.”
“Ms. Ryter does have a lot of readers,” the fairy says, “but what does Ima write?”
“Spicy werevampshifter regency romances.”
The little fairy gives me a flat, patient look that isn’t actually all that patient. “And you write…?”
“Sweet sports romances.”
“How much crossover do you think there is between your audience and hers?”
“A lot,” you say. It sounds a little defensive. “Probably. At least some…Maybe.”
“But…but her romance audience is huge. Someone in there might…you never know who—”
“Bigger isn’t always better,” the fairy says emphatically. “Especially if it isn’t a good fit.”
You grin at her. “Are we still talking about newsletters?”
She rolls her eyes and mutters something about romance authors. “Let me put this in a way you can understand. When you publish your book on Amazon, you’re setting it up on a speed dating binge. Your Pickleball love story will hopefully come face to face with many, many readers. Depending on how those readers react to your book, the Book Recommendation Engine for Ebooks—I call her BREE—on that giant bookstore website will learn things.
“BREE likes love stories. If the first fifty people who are set up with your book fall in love enough to buy it, then BREE starts to put a profile together of your book’s perfect date. She then branches out to find other perfect dates for you out of the bazillion readers she has access too.
“But if the first fifty lookyloos are Ima Ryter’s readers, and they see that ‘Pickleball’ isn’t a euphemism, they’ll click away to find the next WereVampShifter of the Jersey Shore book. Then BREE will assume no one likes your book, and recommend it to no one. Ever. That does not lead to a happy ending for Pickleball love.”
She points to the screen. “Keep scrolling.”
You scroll lower in the feed and another book rolls up onto your screen. There’s a handsome looking baseball player smiling broadly on the cover. “This one? Her subscriber list is not very big.”
The fairy raises and eyebrow.
“But…she writes sweet sports fantasy,” you admit. “So if I set up newsletter swaps with this baseball cutie, then the right sorts of lookyloos will go to my book page.”
“So, I can scroll through here and find every sweet sports romance writer I can find and set up swaps—” You stop at the fairy’s tight-lipped head shaking.
“That might be good for your book. You’ll get lookyloos from similar authors. But don’t forget that a newsletter swap cuts both ways. They share your book…” she waves a long, skinny wand into existence and taps the page down key on your keyboard. “And you have to share theirs.” She stops the page on a book with a pretty cover, then clicks to a preview, and you read the first paragraph of the book.
“Ooooh,” you say slowly. “That’s…not particularly well written, is it? And that is not the kind of scene I open with. That’s…is that anatomically possible?”
The fairy shrugs. “That’s not my department. My point is that you have a soft spot for sappy love stories. The sappier the better. Adorable meetings, ridiculous obstacles, the whole thing. This, despite the cover, does not seem to be that sort of book.” She gives me an expectant look. “Guess who else loves sappy love stories?”
You pause. “You?”
She stares at you through those narrow, black-rimmed glasses. “Do I look like I love sappy love stories?”
You shrug. “You look like you could be in one. You could be the uptight, too serious woman who’s been hurt before so keeps her heart locked behind her stiff, grey pantsuit, until the handsome, fairy man with the sunny smile is assigned as your Newsletter Whatever Partner and…” You hesitate. “Are there male fairies?”
“No.” she says bluntly, and it sounds like a “no” to more than just the final question. “Your readers like sappy love stories. But they want well-written ones. And not every one you run across will be up to a standard you’d like to recommend.”
“Do you mean I have to read every book I recommend?”
“Some authors do. Some read a portion of it and check the reviews. It’s really up to you. So, there are two things you need to stop and consider before setting up a newsletter swap.”
She flicks her wand at the sparkly pink paper notepad you have sitting by your laptop. Gold script appears on it in perfect cursive.
The perfect newsletter match answers yes to these two questions:
1) Is their audience a good match for your book? The closer the better.
2) Is their book a good match for your audience? Don’t commit to recommending books you don’t really recommend.
Don’t get distracted by shiny things.
You can do it!
-The Newsletter Fairy
“That’s fairly straightforward,” you say.
“I know,” she says dryly. “And yet…” She nudges the page down arrow again.
“Ooh!” you say. “Look! Luv Sells’ has her new book out and is looking for swaps! I heard she sold TV rights to her Aliens, Firemen, and Other Bad Boys series!”
You reach for the keyboard, but the tiny magic wand cracks down across your knuckles.
“Ow!” You glare at the little fairy. “If I want to set up a swap with Luv Sells, I can, you know. Her latest book is about firemen, and there is crossover between those books and mine” Yes, your voice sounds a little petulant, but this fairy is entirely too bossy.
“It’s your choice, of course,” she answers, “and if nothing else you should be getting to know Luv Sells and Ima Ryter, because they sell way more books than you do. The indie author community, while easily distracted by shiny things, is also a very generous place. If you want to learn how to succeed, follow the authors that do. Talk to them, ask them question, and then listen to their answers. But—” she taps the down arrow and the book description for My Hunky Firemen comes into view. “Please first take a moment to consider if you’re making a good decision.”
You read the first paragraph. “Oooh, right.”
“If there were a sweet romance sports field,” she says, “that would be out of bounds.”
You don’t even need to click the “See more” button to agree with that.
“All right. I will think before setting up swaps,” you say. “And then my reader will be glad I’m recommending the right books, and BREE the book matchmaker might get a good idea of who to recommend my book to.” You sigh at the computer screen. “So I shouldn’t ever swap with Ima or Luv.”
“That’s up to you. If you’ve had a book out for a long time, and BREE already does a good job matching it to the right readers, a shout out from an author a bit outside your subgenre might be good. That’s for you to decide. But while your book is new I highly recommend only sending the right sort of readers to it.”
“That makes sense.”
“Of course it does,” she says. “If there’s nothing else, I have a lot of other authors to visit.”
“Just one more question, really,” you say. “If there are no male fairies, how do you…”
She gives me a flat look. “Good luck with your newsletter,” she says in a voice as flat as the look, and disappears.
You look at the empty space on the top of your screen for a minute, thinking that if there were more male fairies, maybe the Newsletter Fairy one would be more interested in sweet romance.
But there’s a newsletter to tend to. You scroll back up the page. Where was that cover with the baseball player and the million dollar smile?