Wednesday, January 30, 2013

GUEST BLOGGER VALERIE COMER: Where There's News, There's a Letter! (And Giveaway!)

Noooooooooooo!!!!! Don't give me ANOTHER promotional thing to worry about, please!!! 

Sound familiar? Julie, here and yes, I can hear groans from all over the Web, silent screams from writers who just want to write. Not blog, not Tweet, not pin, and not banter on FB, for pity's sake. And for the love of chocolate, NOT put out a newsletter out on a regular basis OR cultivate a newsletter list.

Well, good news here. I have discovered that putting out a newsletter is not only one of the BEST ways to promote you and your books, but it's also one of the least time-consuming promotions an author can do. Of course, I only put mine out twice a year, but that's only one day of my time at the most twice a year, which is chicken feed next to the hours and hours and hours I spend on FB, Twitter, my Journal Jots blog, or e-mails. So, settle in, folks, and let Barbour author Valerie Comer pass on some great information about the why's and how's of newsletters. Without further ado, I give you newsletter guru, Valerie Comer!

Where There's News, There's a Letter!

Once upon a time I felt guilty for not signing up for all my author friends' newsletters. I was pretty sure I'd find out their exciting reports on either Facebook or the ACFW loop--or possibly a Seekerville post! But like most of you, I'm friends with so many awesome authors that my inbox could become permanently jammed with newsletters if I signed up for each and every one.

And really? I hate to say this, but I thought some of you probably had too high an opinion of yourself. Did you really need a newsletter? Maybe the best-selling authors did. You know, the ones who actually get fans waiting in long lines for books to be signed. For the rest, it seemed a bit presumptuous.

Then I sold a novella to Barbour. A novella, mind you, not a novel, but still, my Real Life friends were so impressed. They begged me to let them know when it would be released, where they could buy it, and if they could help.

These weren't my author buddies. These people don't read the ACFW loop. Many of them rarely go online. Some of them aren't even on Facebook. Can you imagine? They're busy just doing real people jobs and leading real people lives and taking their kids to hockey at 5 a.m. (I'm in Canada; it's got to be hockey here). And yet they wanted to be kept up to date on my writing world.

A teeny tiny light bulb came on in my head. Ohhhh! It's for people like these that newsletters were invented. Not for my author friends (though of course they're welcome to sign up!) Not for people I see every day, either on the job or online.

And so I began looking at electronic newsletter programs and discovered there were quite a few. Some free, some paid. Some ugly, some beautiful. Some easy to use, and some that required a degree in html to produce. How could an author ever decide, when she'd rather be writing or reading a book than evaluating software?

Always looking for content for my blog, I devised a set of questions and began asking my author friends if they'd be willing to share their answers as related to their service. I figured that if everyone had the same basic framework, I'd be able to evaluate the results more easily. It would also give me content for my blog, give my friends a bit of free publicity, and provide a body of reference material for other inquiring authors. Win, win, win.

Here are the category results and here are the individual results:
Mailchimp with Melissa K. Norris
Mad Mimi with Carrie Turansky
YMLP with Nicole O'Dell
Vertical Response with Sharon Hinck
Aweber with Janalyn Voigt
Constant Contact with Cheryl Wyatt
Gmail with Grace Bridges
World Responders with Phyllis Wheeler
Trafficwave with Shelley Hitz

Okay, so I'd become convinced I needed a newsletter, and found a program to use (YMLP). But what to write about?

Beyond "Hey, my book is coming out" and "Hey, my book is for sale" and "Hey, my publisher put my ebook on for $2.99" I had nothing. If a person has nothing to say, it's best if they say, well, nothing.

Oh, but then there's platform. We've all been hearing tons about that, right? For me, ACFW conference 2012 was all about platform, from Michael Hyatt's keynote to the classes and media coaching appointments I signed up for.

Platform. Platform. Platform.

Writers these days flounder without one. Mine had been staring me in the face for a couple of years, but I hadn't stepped on it with a megaphone. It seemed kind of rickety. Like many reading this, I'm an introvert. I dislike confrontation (unless it's between my characters--then, bring it on). When I'm in front of a group, I always wonder if I'm busy making a fool of myself. If there's a real expert in the crowd shaking his or her head. If I am making a mountain out of a mole-hill, or--just as awkward--making a mole-hill out of a mountain.

Am I credible? Why would anyone care about my two-cents-worth?

The various presenters and specialists at conference challenged me to brace up my platform and climb its steps. To focus my website and my blog. To kick the "occasional" newsletter into something regular with a purpose. To do my homework and step out in faith that I can be a voice used by God. Whether he chooses to establish a large following or a meager one is up to him. My job is to be faithful in proclaiming the passions he's challenged me with.

So as 2012 pulled to a close, I completed all the book reviews I'd promised to place on my blog--future ones will go directly to Amazon, CBD, and Goodreads. I wrapped up all the ongoing writing and marketing series, such as the one on newsletters. There are authors out there excelling at this type of focus for their blogs. I'm not. I need to find my own readers.

And who are they, you ask?

It's pretty simple, really. I believe in organic, real, local food. I believe in small farms and gardens and communities and farmers' markets. I believe Christians should care about creation and the environment.

So, my tribe will consist of Christian women who want to read romantic fiction in which the characters grapple with real-life environmental and food issues. Oh, and my readers have to want to laugh--that's a given.

Yes, I'd also like to find a publisher who embraces these topics. Right now, that's up to God and my agent. My job is to write the stories God has given me passion for then edit them to the best of my ability. My other job is to build the platform through which God can work.

My monthly (gulp!) newsletter is part of that platform. God's Green Acres shares my personal journey in farming, gardening, and eating responsibly. There will be a seasonal recipe and--yes!--information about my current writing projects.

I'd love for you to join the conversation. There's a free download called "Seasons from My Kitchen" for each newsletter subscriber. Just go here and push the Big Red Button.

Do you have a newsletter? How did you decide to focus it?

Are you thinking of having a newsletter? What is holding you back?

Do you read author newsletters? What features do you enjoy in the ones you receive?

Two lucky commenters anywhere in the world will receive an unsigned copy of Rainbow's End, a collection of 4 novellas featuring a geocaching adventure in the spectacular Lake of the Ozarks wilderness, with Lyssa, the reluctant volunteer whose former nemesis is now her chief sponsor; Madison, a city girl paired with an outdoorsy guy who gets on her very last nerve; cautious Reagan, who meets an equally cautious guy; and Hadley, who doesn’t know enough about guys to realize she’s met a womanizer. Will they find the treasure they’re looking for. . .or something else entirely?

's life on a small farm in western Canada provides the seed for stories of contemporary inspirational romance. Like many of her characters, Valerie and her family grow much of their own food and are active in the local food movement as well as their creation-care-focused church. She only hopes her imaginary friends enjoy their happily ever afters as much as she does hers, shared with her husband, adult kids, and adorable granddaughters. Her first published work, a novella, was released in the collection Rainbow's End from Barbour Books in May 2012. Visit her website and blog to glimpse inside her world.


  1. I don't have a newsletter, but I love to read and keep up with author's through their newsletters. After I read a book and like it, I will review it on Amazon, Shelfari, Goodreads, Library Thibg, Faceboo and any blog that is appropiate. Rainbow's End sound like a great rea
    rbooth43 at yahoo dot com

  2. Great post Valerie, so good to see you on Seekerville!!

    I love getting author's newsletters, it's such a personal way to interact and gives me a chance to get to know them better. I also enjoy giving feedback, polls, and even though giveaways are never necessary they do bless me. I have never considered newsletters a nuisance and I appreciate the efforts that are put into them. I don't have a favorite feature from author's newsletters but I do like to see what information authors include based on their personality and their book content (family photos, recipes, excerpts, upcoming book releases, scripture, researching facts, etc). The more behind the scenes information the author shares about their writing experience, the better!

    Thanks for including the link to yours, Valerie, I signed up! Would love to win a copy of your book, thanks for the giveaway :)
    hugs and blessings, Kara

  3. Rebecca, I'm curious what you enjoy about the newsletters you receive.

    Kara, thanks for signing up! And that's a great list of possibilities for newsletter content.

  4. I never thought about a news letter. And I'm not sure what my platform is just yet. Of course, I don't think I'll need one for a while. My first book doesn't come out for almost a year.

    I love that you are into the environment. I've always wondered why more Christians weren't as active in caring for God's creation.

  5. Hi Valerie!!

    We were just talking about this a few days ago!

    I love newsletters and love getting them, but I don't know what I would put in my own.

    Thanks for all the great tips!

  6. Christina, you might want to get a newsletter started "soon," before all the other pressures of your first release begin to pile up! It's one of the things you can do well in advance and begin to gather fans/subscribers.

  7. Virginia--start with what makes your stories or voice different from those around you. Part of it's your personality, and how it seeps into your writing. The things you're passionate about. You'll find a niche!

  8. Firstly I have read the book so dont enter me.
    I do like newsletters but a few I am one come out to often. I like reading the whats happening, not so big on recipes but thats me. I love contests. But I like it when an author states who can enter. Many forget that with the internet they will have subscribers from other countries. I know I have had to emailed the author to check sometimes and it would be handy if they put who can or cant enter.
    I subscribed to a few newsletters I basically dont read but feel bad unsubscribing. these are ones that are to frequent and and have any new news.

  9. Hi Valerie! YES! I sign up for author's newsletters and YES I do read them. I enjoy reading what the author is working on now, what they have just released or are about to release. I enjoy the personal touches such as pictures of family and recipes. Some even offer giveaways which are always nice. What I do like on most of them is they come personally addressed to me. Now I know the software allows that but as I read each one it is like they are speaking just to me. I enjoy them.

    Would love to be entered into your giveaway. Thank you for your generosity.

    Smiles & Blessings,
    Cindy W.

    countrybear52 AT yahoo DOT com

  10. Valerie, good morning!!! So nice to have you on that side of the fence, and your words of wisdom....

    I will admit I haven't done a newsletter yet... But I like to think of Yankee-Belle Cafe as a newsletter, to let folks see what we're cookin'... talkin' bout.... laughing over....

    I'm just fairly sure I'll mess it up until I have more free time but in the meantime, I'm going to study your tips and these different sites and see what they look like. You have inspired me to go that far!

    Coffee!!!! I made fresh and I brought Danish and Croissants for breakfast. Feel free to drop off food, peeps!!!!

    Valerie, I haven't read your book yet, but I can't wait to. I'm so stinkin' proud of you!!! Happy dancing in upstate NY!

  11. If I were trying to think about my platform this morning it would be about all those people who woke up and just really want to go back to bed. I think that would get me a large following.
    Is it Friday yet? (okay so I wake up even earlier on Saturday, but I CAN go back to bed if I want!)

    Valerie, you have given us a lot to think about AND the resources for digging in. Thank you so much!

    So, what kind of weather are you sending me this week? I know that whatever Anita Mae has I'll get about four days later...

  12. Valerie!!!!!

    I love Valerie. She is my go to person for all things healthy and creation oriented. Talk about a niche!

    The main reason I get newsletters is they often give me first hand news of new books to put on the pre-order list. If the author is not one I follow on FB or who is fairly inactive on FB, I make sure to sign up.

    Peace and see you on Pinterest, Valerie!


  13. Hi Valerie,

    It's so good to see you on Seekerville. I signed up for your newsletter. You are so smart, you're background is even green.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Jackie L.

  14. Thanks for today's post! I do read author's newsletters, and I'm usually very interested in where the author will be for book signings and readings and such. It's also nice to read short briefings on the author's personal life. I love that :)

  15. Valerie,

    This is such an informative post. Love that you researched the software. The few author newsletters that I subscribe to primarily promote the author's books. I stopped reading them. Sometimes they promote friends of the author's books.

    Confession: I once had a newsletter sign up tab on my blog and got maybe two subscribers. I didn't send out a newsletter.

    Most authors send newsletters out randomly, which doesn't help.

    Would love to win the book.
    cathy underscore shouse at yahoo

  16. Hi Valerie and welcome to Seekerville. And what a great topic.

    I love your platform- I am so into that-well not the gardening but the environmental issues. And who doesn't relate to FOOD?

    Thanks for joining us and for the great advice on newsletters and reminders to build that platform.

  17. Valerie,
    Great food for thought this AM...all green, of course. BTW, I had broccoli for dinner last night. Yum! :)

    Like Ruthy, I haven't jumped on the newsletter bandwagon, although I keep thinking it's something I want to do. Finding the time is the problem.

    Thanks for providing great info.

    A platform, eh? Hmmm....

    Storms rolling through Georgia today. Hoping to stay online.

  18. Great post today Valerie! Thanks for the research and encouragement. Clarity about why and who a newsletter is for--also helpful.

  19. Christina: about the pressures. I didn't mean anything. There are no pressures when your first book comes out. NONE at all! It's like a bubble bath, nothing but sweet-smelling relaxation and warm feeling all over. Enjoy :D

  20. VALERIE!!! WELCOME TO SEEKERVILLE, my friend, and WHOA, girl, you're up bright and early ... uh, at least I hope "brighter" than me!!

    BLESS YOU, RUTHY, for setting up the coffee and food ... you get up WAY before I do and WAY before most people do, so I appreciate it!!

    In addition to Ruthy's gracious offering of Danish and croissants (dear Lord, PLEASE let the Danish be cheese ...), I've got a tropical array of fresh, sliced fruit (mango, pineapple, kiwi, starfruit, papaya), a peach cinnamon kringle and DONUTS fresh from the oven, including ooey-gooey white and chocolate iced cake donuts -- YUM!!! And since I brought my Keurig today, you can ANY flavor coffee you want, so just name it!!



  21. Jenny brings up a good point about giveaways. As a Canadian, I am ostracized almost as often as an Aussie. All you authors, what if I told you how you could make your international readers happy? There are two ways:

    1. The Book Depository is a FAB UK website that carries pretty much all of our books. And will ship to over 100 countries. For free. No minimum order. Often on sale. (This means you have to order a book and have it drop-shipped, but it's not that much more expensive than buying a copy from your publishing and paying shipping.) (This also means it is not a signed copy. Which makes it easier to donate to the church library later, quite frankly...)

    2. Offer digital copies internationally (preferably not .pdf). This works for me as my eyes aren't what they used to be, and digital allows me to enlarge the font to a readable level.

    As Jenny said, with a worldwide readership these days, please specify if the giveaway is only for USA--but do look for other options first, as above.

    **Now getting off my international soapbox**

  22. WOW, I have to admit, I'm pretty surprised at all the folks that say they like newsletters because I would think with all the stuff that hits our inboxes today, that would not be the case, but good to know!!

    And, KARA, you have an EXCELLENT point about "getting to know" an author better through their newsletter. I, for one, feel like I can really let my hair down in a newsletter (I know, I know ... that's a scary thought to those people who think I already DO let my hair down in public ...), so I feel like my newsletter subscribers get a clearer picture of who I am.

    CHRISTINA SAID: "*GULP* What other pressures?"

    LOL ... oh, honey, are YOU in for a surprise, right, Val??? And I agree with Val that you might want to get a newsletter going (it doesn't have to be often, maybe once or twice before your book comes out) because THAT WAY you can keep readers/friends in the loop on its progress AND advise them when it releases. Besides ... it's good practice, sweetie!


  23. Cindy, Annie, Anne--thank you for sharing what you like about newsletters. Hugs--thanks for being here!

  24. Valerie--"roomie"--so good to see you here! I so appreciate your post here on newsletters. I'm still trying to find the time to begin my own blog, and starting a newsletter now seems crazy for ME. Thanks for sharing your journey to beginning one. I'm holding onto this post for that day when I feel ready to take this on. :)

    DEBBY--someone I love is in Georgia today on a trip. Thanks for the heads up to pray. Adding you to the prayers. :)

  25. LOL, JENNY ... no recipes ... got it!!

    DEB MARVIN SAID: "If I were trying to think about my platform this morning it would be about all those people who woke up and just really want to go back to bed. I think that would get me a large following."

    LOL ... you bet, sweetie, and I'd be the first to sign up for that newsletter once I rolled out ...

    CATHY SAID: "Confession: I once had a newsletter sign up tab on my blog and got maybe two subscribers. I didn't send out a newsletter."

    LOL, smart move, girl until you can build that list a wee bit ...


  26. Debra--a going-back-to-bed platform might get you a LOT of followers. You could provide tips on down vs fake pillows, Egyptian cotton sheets vs 180-count percale, what temperature is best to sleep at.

    Oh, and how to turn off the brain to return to Slumber Land.

    Why yes, I think you have a winner.

    As for weather, from Southeastern BC, Canada, today, we're sending fog with sunshine later, a few inches of old snow on the ground, and temperatures hovering around freezing. So far we're having quite a nice, average winter.

    I love winter, so long as I don't have to drive in it the weeks we get a foot of snow, then rain, then freezing, then more rain, more snow... Nasty. A few times in my life I've called in to work slick.

  27. AND CATHY ALSO SAID: "Most authors send newsletters out randomly, which doesn't help.

    I'm not sure I agree that "random" newsletters don't help because to be honest, anytime you remind someone about you and your books is a good thing, even if it's sporadic. And quite frankly, I think people are WAY too busy today to notice you haven't sent out a regular newsletter. At least I sure wouldn't notice!!

    JULIE H.S. SAID: "The main reason I get newsletters is they often give me first hand news of new books to put on the pre-order list."

    OH, I like how you think, girl, and actually that's an EXCELLENT reason because with all the free downloads these days, your favorite authors can advise you of that in a newsletter so you don't miss it. I know I intend to do that in my next newsletter since I just found out that A Passion Most Pure and A Hope Undaunted (and possibly A Light in the Window) will all be available for free download in the next month or so, so that way I can keep my reader friends posted ...


  28. Julie HS -- love you right back, girl!

    But here's a hint for you. While you certainly get my flavor on FB, my newsletter is not (just more-the-same. It's focused differently.

  29. Ruthy, thanks for the happy dancing! Love it. Yes, the Yankee Belle does offer your fans an additional perspective, for sure!

    Let's see what I can add to the food table. Here's a large pot of organic fair-trade coffee. You can take it straight if you have to, or you can grab a mug, add a pinch of cinnamon and a pinch of salt, a teaspoon (or so) of organic fair-trade cocoa, and a large dollop of honey from our family apiary. Add the hot coffee, give it a good stir, then add a slosh of cream. This is my one-cup-a-day version of mocha, so I have to make it a large one!

    I'll set up my VitaMix over on this counter beside the fridge and freezer so we can all make smoothies. I have frozen pumpkin, cherries, plums, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, peaches, and huckleberries to choose from. Sorry, out of organic bananas today, but the pumpkin gives a similar mouth-feel. My daughter-in-law made the yogurt, and the milk in the jug came from an actual cow. Add some local honey to your smoothie if you want.

    (I think it's breakfast time in B.C.)

  30. a wonderful posting, valerie...

    good morning, seekers :)

    kmkuka at yahoo dot com

  31. Welcome Valerie! I enjoyed your post today, and have to confess I LOVE author newsletters! However, I must limit myself also, because if I'm to focus on my writing (which is what I feel called to do in this season of my life) I have to limit my time in other areas (Facebook being a big time-gobbler for me *sigh*). Congrats on your novella, and thank you again for sharing with us today! Blessings from Georgia, Patti Jo

  32. Thanks for signing up, Jackie. Of course my background is green! :P My daughter is in charge of my graphics for website/blog and newsletter. She's the artist, not me. All I do is pull the colors out and spread them around :)

  33. Cathy, it sounds like you just need to find your niche. Also, those two people that have signed up for your newsletter don't know how many hundreds of others there might be. It's okay to send out a letter to two. Maybe even a good idea to practice in a smaller group.

    Just my thoughts. Your mileage may vary. :)

  34. Thanks, Ruthy...the coffee is fresh and hot. i love it. i am with Jenny and Val...if you are doing a giveaway, please say where it is good for. Ebooks doesn't work for me, though because the cost to download is horrendous when you live in the boondocks. i love reading about where the authors have been on vacation, scouting out locations and so on. Recipes? not so much. As a reader, i don't do newsletters, but i do have a blog where i occasionally post my diary and inspirational stories. In that case, i don't worry about sign ups. Once i sign up, i pretty much stay signed up, i may not read each one, depending on time, but i love the connection. Thanks for another great morning. i wish Barbour had a review system for books, as i said i can't do ebooks....

  35. Sandra said, "and who doesn't relate to FOOD?"

    Exactly! And I think with meat recalls and tainted spinach scandals and all, more folks are questioning the type of industrialized food system in place in North America. The price of food goes up while the quality goes down. Lose/lose.

  36. Debby, thankfully broccoli is only one of many green foods. I have nothing against broccoli, really, but give me kale any day of the week!

    Thanks for stopping by :) Hope the storms don't get you.

  37. Julie L, thanks so much for inviting me to Seekerville and for giving me such a great welcome here.

    As for mentioning freebies and good deals in a newsletter, my January letter mentioned that Barbour has most of the 2012 Romancing America titles (including Rainbow's End on sale digitally for only $2.99. If any of you prefer reading on your Kindle or Nook to a paperback (raising my hand), you might want to check those out. Here's the list for all the ones on sale.

  38. Jeanne T: if you have a website (even with no blog) you've got a place to put a newsletter sign up. You might find it less pressured sending out a monthly (or whatever) newsletter than blogging three times a week for starting your platform. Just a thought. :)

  39. Thanks for coming by, Karen :)

    Patti Jo, I so hear you on Facebook gobbling time. Someday I need to go to AA for FB. But not yet. I enjoy the addiction too much.

    Which reminds me. Facebook is a fickle beast, friends. I'd advise you NOT to say that because you have an active, engaged following on your FB author page that you don't need them signed up to your blog or newsletter. Who knows what FB will do next? None of us. And it would be a crying shame to lose those great contacts if it goes kaput.

    Michael Hyatt says (in Platform) to focus on your personal turf that you control: self-hosted website/blog/newsletter, and to think of places like FB and Twitter (and Pinterest--sigh, how I love thee...) as embassies in a foreign land, subject to their whim-of-the-day.

  40. Marianne, I appreciate your input. I happen to love ebooks, but I know not everyone does. And yes, Barbour discontinued sending review copies to Canada a couple of years ago. It really is far more expensive for them and other publishers, but it made me very sad, too. I now have way fewer incoming books to donate to my church library when I'm done with them.

  41. I'm changing how I do my newsletter. No more nice long newsy funny newsletter.
    My spirit has been broken by my failures to get it done.
    I do notice I get what I think of as eblasts.
    Short sweet newsletters with announcements of new releases. I read those. They take NO TIME.
    So I'm doing that.

  42. Hi Valerie, I am a reader not a writer and I like to read the newsletters that come out from authors I read. it brings things that are happening for them to my attention.
    I would love to read your book and thank you for sharing today with your post.
    Paula O

  43. I have a confession.

    I've never read an author's newsletter. Not one.

    But I also don't follow author's on Facebook, except I think I have 2-3 as friends.

    I follow Seekerville and when the author's book comes out, I try to buy it, unless it's an ebook. I only read paper books.

    But I think I'm in the minority, and a little weird. A lot of readers like to hear about what's going on in an author's life and when their books are coming out. I'm almost afraid to start follwing authors and reading their newsletters. I already spend too much time on the internet!!!

    Since I never read newsletters, I won't offer any suggestions. When I finally get published, I'll come out of my shell.

  44. Valerie, thanks for this very insightful discussion of author newsletters!

    I also loved that comment about social sites like Facebook being our "embassies in a foreign land." It's true--our control in these venues is limited to what they allow.

    The advantage, of course, is that they're so public, like a big party where you might meet just anyone. For readers to visit our websites or blogs, or even sign up for our newsletters, they have to consciously choose to do so.

  45. And Valerie,

    Your novella sounds like fun. I'd love to win it, please put my name in the hat.


  46. JULIE, CAN YOU SEE ME? LOOK REAL CLOSE, BECAUSE VAL SAID IT WAS A BUBBLE BATH. I can do bubble bath, I can do a walk in the park. I can do FISHING with NO bait! Not that I'd catch anything, just saying....


    What aren't you people telling me?


  47. Mary, I do hope your voice will still shine through in your short newsletters. But I totally sympathize with having big ideas and no time to bring them to fruition, so they just don't get done.

  48. Welcome back to Seekerville, Valerie. Uh, oh,you mentioned the elephant in my room. I am so needing to do this and you've provided alot of research for me. THANKYOU!!

  49. Paula, thanks for your input.

    Just the opposite of Connie! Which goes to show that there is NO one-size-fits-all. And that's fine. :)

  50. Myra, YES! Facebook is like a big fun party. I love it. Spend way too much time there. I have to remember it's not my workspace but my playspace.

  51. Christina, enjoy that bubble bath. Really! You don't have to do anything but soak in that jetted tub. Publishers take care of EVERYTHING else. Always. Forever.

  52. Tina, so glad to be of help. We'll just tiptoe around that elephant for a bit then kick that big baby out the door when he's least expecting it.

  53. Oh my stars, a platform.....



    That's easy. I shamelessly exploit cute kids and small animals (and I'm not above using friends with dire diseases, too) to sell sweet, lovely reads at very reasonable prices.


    Whatever works, LOL!

    I love showing off the little monster babies.... and touching people's hearts and funny bones with their antics. And who doesn't love pics of newborn pups?????

    May I hear an "AWWWWW......"????

    That's my platform. Folks who get annoyed by kids are probably annoyed by my books, so if I capitalize on my life in conjunction with the stories, it seems to work.

  54. Ruthy, cute kids and small animals ARE your platform. Your life is full of them, and so are your stories. They're your niche, really. Win win!

  55. "la la la la la la la"

    I can't hear you....

    "la la la la la la la"

    Oh, wait, maybe I should listen...

  56. Oh, hi Valerie!

    (you didn't hear that earlier comment, did you?)

    "Platform" is one of those things I'm trying to sidle up to...I'm like Mary, too many failed attempts has me gun shy. I don't want to promise something and then not deliver.

    But you make it sound doable - and not just as another voice shouting in the crowd.

    Thanks, roomie!

    (For those who don't know - Jeanne T., Valerie, Melissa Jagaers and I were roomies in Dallas. It was a fun room!)

  57. Jan, it WAS a fun room! The thing about newsletters is not to worry too much about how many subscribers, at least at first. If it's just a few people that you don't connect with often online, that's great, and gives you a way to speak into their lives. I know my Real Life friends are some of my biggest supporters. One friend who is rarely online pre-ordered six copies of Rainbow's End so she'd have plenty to give her friends. :)

  58. Welcome Valerie. I'm not at the newsletter stage yet, at least not with my writing. I first need to get published, although I do write a newsletter for my prayer partners who pray daily about my writing.

    Great post though - something I'll keep in mind for the future.

    Jodie Wolfe

  59. Val Thanks for mentioning the Book depository and digital suggestions.
    With the Book depository things like LI are actually cheaper to buy the book there than pay the postage.

    Julie its not I dont like recipes its just I am not that adventurous.

  60. CHRISTINA SAID: "JULIE, CAN YOU SEE ME? LOOK REAL CLOSE, BECAUSE VAL SAID IT WAS A BUBBLE BATH. I can do bubble bath, I can do a walk in the park. I can do FISHING with NO bait! Not that I'd catch anything, just saying....

    HA!! It's a "bubble bath," all right -- a "Calgon, take me the heck away from all this" bubble bath!!

    AND VALERIE SAID: "Christina, enjoy that bubble bath. Really! You don't have to do anything but soak in that jetted tub. Publishers take care of EVERYTHING else. Always. Forever."

    Uh ... unless your a truly anal type of CDQ like moi, and then you try to take care of things by yourself.

    So cheer up, Christina -- you're NOT a truly anal type of CDQ like moi, are you??? If not, then Valerie's right. If you are ... then my condelences, sweetie ... to both you AND your hubby!! :)


  61. JENNY ... I find it REAL hard to believe that an Aussie who travels halfway around the globe to tour the U.S. is NOT "adventurous," but then I guess you're talking cooking, right??


  62. Great postm, Valerie. So many new writers jump on all the communications bandwagons--newsletters, Facebook, Twitter, etc--and wind up marketing to each other. The real audience is the big one out there beyond the comfortable confines of the writing industry. Bookmarking this one...

  63. Hey, Julie, did you have to give me another acronym? OCD, yes. ADD, yes. Control freak, why yes!!!! Told a friend yesterday that I was already freaking out about how I'm going to get to conference. Uh, carpooling but I'll need some serious meds to chill me out.

    Valerie, you may be happy to know that I may have discovered my platform. Well, I didn't just discover it, but I did JUST realize that it could be my platform.


    Uncommon Grace, Uncommon Love,etc

  64. Thanks for coming by, Jodie and Patricia. :) Glad to help prompt the platform muse, Christina!

  65. Thank you for your (local) food for thought. You give good reasons for doing a newsletter. I hadn't thought of doing one because I didn't think I had any thing to say....a platform?!?! But I believe now that I do! I read a few author recipes and beautiful pictures. I'll check yours! Thanks!

  66. ▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓

    N E W S L E T T E R

    January 30, 2013


    Topaz Treasure

    “Stand up and Cheer” Ending of The Year!

    Hi Valerie:

    I read the start of “Topaz Treasure” on your website last night. This morning I rushed to download the book so I could read the rest of the story.

    That’s what I’ve been doing today! Reading your story.

    I’m almost a humanities professor! ☺ So I was really hooked! “Topaz Treasure” is one of the best novellas I’ve ever read! The only way it will not be nominated for a Carol is if it isn’t entered.

    I loved the topic of the "Rainbow’s End” series. It’s fresh, topical, and fascinating. I’ve seen no other book like it. I also think you write the best ‘passage of time’ sequences I’ve seen anyone do. So easy, so sneaky. You make it look so simple. Wow. You also have great physical proxies: (Show don’t tell).

    “There was nothing between them. No reason remained to push him away. She leaned back against him, reveling in his nearness.”

    “She pressed her finger against the few remaining crumbs then licked them off. With the last deep-brown fleck gone, she said good-bye to Kirk Kennedy. Like the confection, he’d been a tantalizing pleasure while he lasted. Her gaze drifted to the dessert case. She could get another piece of cake, but her relationships wouldn’t be mended by indulging in more calories.” (A man as comfort food. That’s five sensing!)

    “The waitress reached for Lyssa’s plate, which was all but licked clean.” (Do we have to be told how Lyssa was feeling?)

    “He nodded, and his whole body relaxed. ‘It’s true we’re not all called to be the mouth. I forget that sometimes’.”

    All this is great but the killer is the ‘stand up and cheer’ ending! While this ending is as good as it gets, it would not work without lots of foundation. And the foundation is there in each chapter. (You provided the foundation for the ending in such a clever way that it makes it seem like the ending couldn’t happen up until it happens and then it seems natural. I loved it.)

    I writing a novella right now for the Genesis contest and “Topaz Treasure” sets a standard I didn’t even know was possible. Now that I see what can be done, I will try to extend my reach. “Topaz Treasure” is a true inspiration.

    Highest recommendation.

    Thank you.

    Thank you.


  67. Hi Valerie,

    Late to the party because of work, but I wanted to chime in anyway. My daughter just finished 3 months farming on several organic farms in Ireland and England. It totally changed her perspective about food, waste, etc. She's slowly starting to wear off on me so I'm excited to subscribe to your newsletter.

    Thanks for all the great tips.

  68. Thank you, Sherida and Mary. I look forward to sharing my newsletters with you.

  69. Vince--wow. Your esteem means so much to me. I'm honored and delighted you enjoyed "Topaz Treasure" enough to read it straight through and give it such high praise.

    Thank you. You made my day.

  70. To be honest, I enjoy SOME of the author newsletters I receive. What I don't like about many of them is they often sound like a sales pitch. ;) I do like learning a little personal information, and possibly what inspired their stories, etc..

    I enjoyed this post and appreciate the opportunity to win your book. :)

  71. Yes Julie talking cooking. im am adventurous in other avenues!

  72. I don't have a newsletter. I have one novella to my name, with nothing specific on theo horizon. I'm not exactly sur what I would do at the moment.

  73. I do love to read author newsletters. I find that the snippets they share about the world around them to just fascinate - as well as their books of course.

  74. I've been thinking about a newsletter for some time, but I haven't made the leap yet because I'm still brainstorming who and what for my newsletter. I've a goal this year to focus my blog topic more and get my newsletter going so I can connect with others more readily.

  75. CHRISTINA SAID: Hey, Julie, did you have to give me another acronym? OCD, yes. ADD, yes. Control freak, why yes!!!! Told a friend yesterday that I was already freaking out about how I'm going to get to conference. Uh, carpooling but I'll need some serious meds to chill me out.

    LOL ... then you and I must NEVER drive in a car together any distance because we would be all over the road, girl, with my acronyms!!! ;)

    AND CHRISTINA ALSO SAID: Valerie, you may be happy to know that I may have discovered my platform. Well, I didn't just discover it, but I did JUST realize that it could be my platform.

    UNCOMMON. Uncommon Grace, Uncommon Love,etc.

    LOVE IT, Christina!!!


  76. One of my goals - be well enough known to warrant a newsletter someday. Thanks for the tips Valerie.

  77. I'm so glad to read this. I am currently working on building my newsletter platform. I am doing a monthly giveaway for all newsletter subscribers - that helped start build it. I have no idea how long I'll do that - lol.


  78. I would love to win the book, "Rainbows End".
    The book would be a wonderful addition to the Church Library.
    Thank You!
    Janet E.

  79. Thanks everyone for the lovely comments. I'm so glad that many of you found helpful nuggets in my article, whether for current or future use.

    Hallee, a monthly giveaway sounds like a lot of work (to me). I'm planning for annual, myself!

    Christina, love the uncommon!