Tag Archives: writer

For Fiction Writers: How to Start Your Email List

I’ve been talking to a lot of you about book promotion lately, and I’m hearing that most of you know you could be be a lot more successful if you had a newsletter for your fans…

…but you’re not doing it.

Because you’re afraid:

  • it’ll take too much time
  • it means learning a bunch of complicated technical stuff
  • it’ll be expensive
  • you don’t think anyone will sign up

I understand. I procrastinated on creating my own email lists for months. For exactly the same reasons.

But once I was finally forced to do it…I realized that none of my fears were accurate.

So I’ve recorded a short video for you, where I show you how to create an email list in 15 minutes.

I could’ve done it in about 5 minutes, but I slowed down to be sure I was explaining everything completely.

In this video I show you:

  1. How to create a campaign (i.e. tell your service that you want to create a list for a particular purpose)
  2. How to create a signup form that asks people for their name and email address
  3. How to put that signup form on your blog or website
  4. How to set up a welcome message that each new person receives when they sign up
  5. How to send a newsletter to your list

I used Get Response, which I’ve been using for 9 months and have no complaints–their interface is simple and clear. It’s as easy to mail 400 people from my Get Response account as it is to email a friend in gmail.

I’m not recommending them and I’m not an affiliate, I’m just letting you know that’s what I use. I spent $15 a month for their cheapest plan, and I have no problem covering that from the royalties I make each month from my kindle sales.

Other writers tell me that they love MailChimp and aWeber. If you’re not sure which one is right for you, pick the cheapest one. Or ask a friend and go with whatever they’re using. The difference between the autoresponder services is not big enough to be worth stressing over if all you’re doing is emailing your readers once a month.

That brings me to the fear that it’ll take you too much time to publish a newsletter.

You want to keep your newsletter simple. Remember who you’re emailing–people who’ve already bought and read one of your books. They liked that book enough to sign up for your list. In other words, they’re already fans.

You don’t have to sell them anything.

All you have to do is keep them up-to-date. Once a month, let them know:

  • what you’re working on right now
  • what you’ve published since your last newsletter
  • if you’re giving away a freebie or running a contest or have a book deal for them

That’s it.

You can do more if you want. You can send them recipes. Or pictures of your cat. Or explain why you believe Pluto should be a planet no matter what astronomers say.

But you don’t have to. All you have to do is give them a short, sweet update. Once a month.

That’s twelve emails a year, and two-thirds of those emails will be blurbs for your latest release and your upcoming release. Which you have to write anyway.

Now, let’s talk about the fear that no one will sign up.

The standard advice is to write a short story related to your paid books, and give it away for free to people who sign up for your mailing list. That’s great advice.

But you don’t have to wait until you’ve got that story written to start your mailing list.

I just started publishing books in a new genre under a new pen name. I don’t have a story to give away yet. But I created a list on Get Response and then put the link to the signup page in both of the books that I released this month.

In the first three weeks my books were available on Amazon, 8 people signed up to be notified when the next in the series releases.

If you’ve got one book on Amazon–or you’ve got one that you’re preparing to publish right now–take 15 minutes and set up your email list. A year from now, when you get your royalty statements from Amazon, you’ll be so glad you did!

Short Story Q&A Webinar (Plus PDF Slides)

I did a short story webinar last night, where I talked about incorporating short stories into your writing career plan in a variety of ways (and being strategic about it). Topics covered included approaches for novelists wanting to promote with short stories vs short story writers who want to build income through Amazon Short Reads, and much more.

Here’s the replay, and a PDF of the slides:

Short Story Q&A PDF:  Short Story Q&A – May 14 2015 – Lynn Johnston



Do You Have a System for Getting Unstuck?

Last week, we talked about how systems make it more likely that you’ll achieve your goal.  Today I’d like to talk about creating systems for overcoming the obstacles that we all hit at one point or another.

In other words, systems for getting unstuck.

Because we all work a little bit differently, one size doesn’t fit all here.  What helps me might not help you.  The first step in creating your “unblocking” system is to take a few minutes to think about how you’ve written in the past. Continue reading

What’s the best way to get inspired?

get inspired get started-med-150

Know someone who could use a little inspiration?  Pass it on!

Why New Year’s Resolutions Don’t Work (and What Does)

The idea that next year could be different–that we could be different–it’s almost irresistible, isn’t it? Next year could be the year we lose that weight, get organized, and write the novel that’ll make us famous.

So many of us set ambitious goals for ourselves in December, only to drop them before the end of January. The goals we dub “New Year’s resolutions” aren’t enough.

Sure, you start with the goal. Write a novel. Or a non-fiction book. Or a collection of short stories. Or a memoir.

That’s the “what.”

But you also need to create a system to help you achieve that goal. Continue reading

Editing for Story, Part 3: Scenes

Welcome to the third video in the Editing for Story series!

Today we’re talking about questions to help you evaluate the content of your scenes and look for overall patterns as you create your revision list.

The Editing for Story videos are a companion to the Editing for Story ebook–don’t forget to download your free PDF after you watch the video.

Editing for Story, Episode 2: Non-Traditional Plot Structure

Welcome to episode two of Editing for Story!

Today we’re talking about how to analyze the structure of a story or novel that doesn’t fit into one of the traditional plot structures, or where the structure is so complex that traditional structure is difficult to identify.

This method is a little bit outside the bounds of the advice you’ve probably already heard about editing a rough draft, but it gives you a clear picture of how conflict and stakes are generating organic “plot points” in your story.

Next episode:  how to make sure your story’s scenes stand up to scrutiny!

The 30 Day Novel: NaNoWriMo Series, Day 30

Welcome to Day 30, the final day of NaNoWriMo!

Today we’re talking about your story’s resolution and how to tie up all those loose story ends, as well as the emotion that you’ll end your story on.

Thanks for stopping by! Come by tomorrow–we’ll talk about what to do next and how to get started on editing your novel.

The 30 Day Novel: NaNoWriMo Series, Day 30

Welcome to Day 30 of NaNoWriMo!

Today we’re talking about what makes for a great resolution, how to end your story on the right emotional note, and–you knew it was coming, didn’t you?–EDITS.

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Congratulations on making it to the end of NaNoWriMo!

Next week, we’ll be talking about some things to consider when editing a first draft–I hope to see you then.

The 30 Day Novel: NaNoWriMo Series, Day 29

Welcome to Day 29 of NaNoWriMo!

Today we’re talking about the defeat or victory of the protagonist during the climax of your novel and how to make it pay off in the biggest way possible, as well as handling endings in a book that’s part of a series.

Thanks for stopping by–come back tomorrow for Day 30 tips!