This week saw some challenges in the form of issues with sending out my “monthly” email newsletter as well as the age old problem of doing everything I want to do, and when I can’t to at least focus on important tasks. But in less challenging matters, after my final pass pages for the second book in my series arrived, I was able to start working on the cover design for that book.
Mailing List Issues
I’ve had an email mailing list since my first published book came out in 2011. It was a pretty small list up until 2018, when I started getting more serious about self publishing, and the point was driven home by more than one self published author that a good email mailing list was a key to their success. I took Mark Dawson’s Self Publishing 101 Course and the point was made more than once by Mark.
So, I took some different steps and spent a fair amount of money to try and build up my mailing list. It’s now up to over 10,000 subscribers, which is great, but my own view is this is an imperfect list, as I can tell by opens this isn’t the most engaged mailing list out there. But that’s a subject for another post.
Since I first started my mailing list I’ve used MailChimp to manage it, and when I was starting out this free service was exactly what I needed. But as my list grew, I then had to pay for MailChimp’s services, and a little while back MailChimp decided to reinvent themselves as more than simply mailing list software but as a marketing and advertising service, and clearly this was all aimed at bigger brands. With this reinvention came a steep price hike. I probably should have parted ways with MailChimp then, but that was a huge undertaking, and I was busy and it was just easier to keep everything I already had set up in place.
I’ve found that as MailChimp has shifted their focus, the email services (all that I use them for) have become less reliable, while at the same time I’m having to pay them more and more money.
I send out my newsletter approximately once per month. I say approximately because truthfully it’s probably closer to every two months because time has a tendency to slip away from me. Anyway, I definitely haven’t been making the best use of all the money I give to MailChimp each month, and I knew it was time for a change.
Then the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back came this week, when I was working on getting the latest edition of my newsletter out. Part of the blame lies with me. Because even though I know better, I still went ahead and wrote the copy of my newsletter right in my MailChimp newsletter template. I didn’t quite have time to finish it up. So, I saved everything with plans to get back to it the next day. Alas, there was some sort of glitch and everything I wrote disappeared. I was understandably annoyed because I had wasted a lot of time and because I had been really happy with what I had written and now it was gone forever. So, yeah it’s my fault, but also I lay some of the blame with MailChimp who has made it increasingly difficult to send out an email newsletter while charging me more money for the privilege.
So, this week on top of everything I’ve been trying to do to get my book ready for publication, I also found myself looking around at other email mailing list providers. I think I’ve found one that will work, and now have begun the arduous process of switching things over. I’ll have another update and report when I have things up and running.
In the meantime, I did go ahead and rewrite my newsletter copy (grumbling as I did so, naturally) and sent out my newsletter to my list.
Keeping My Focus
Looking for a new mailing list provider was not something I planned to be doing this week, and there were some other things not related to publishing books that came up this week as well, which meant that time was in short supply and I found that I couldn’t get done everything I had hoped to. The truth is most days I’m a little too ambitious in what I expect to be able to accomplish, but this week did feel especially like a week when I was falling further and further behind.
Part of the reason is that sometimes I’m easily distracted, or find myself focusing on trivial things that could easily be dealt with at another time. For example, this week, I did a cover reveal for the second book in my series (more on that below) and I wanted to update my author website with this information. As I was doing that, I noticed some things on the homepage of the site that I wanted to modify. So, I went ahead and started making some modifications. Already, I had gotten off track.
Then as I was making some modifications to the site, I noticed that the thumbnails for the “news” section on my website cropped the featured image to a rectangular shape, and I thought it would look better as a square shape. So, I started Googling information about how to change the aspect ratio for featured image thumbnails for blog posts on my particular WordPress theme, and as I was sitting there reading a lengthy post about coding changes I could make to change the aspect ratio of these images I asked myself a series of questions. Did I have time for this? No. Was this really that important? Also no. Would anyone visiting my website other than me really care about this? Probably not. And so, I decided to let this go.
Perhaps someday when I find myself with a lot of time on my hands, I’ll get into making these changes to my website, or maybe not, because as I had already established it really isn’t all that important. So, if you are like me and have a habit of focusing on things that don’t matter when you are short on time, I encourage you to do some internal dialoging of your own to try to get yourself to focus on more important issues.
Cover Reveal for Book 2
Above, behold the cover for Factory Girls, the second book in my series. If you’ll recall the cover for Up the Creek, which I showed you a couple of weeks ago, this cover is in the same vein in that the image is fairly spare and minimalist with white (in this case smoke) against a black background. The same font styles are used, but in this case the colored lettering is pink as opposed to the blue I used on Up the Creek.
The title fits the book, as there are several women who were all employees at the same factory who die in suspicious ways and a young journalist who goes undercover as an employee at the factory in an attempt to uncover the truth. But just like with Up the Creek the title is a bit generic and cliche. As my dad pointed out there’s a Rolling Stones song called “Factory Girls” and more importantly there are multiple published books that share this title as is the case with Up the Creek.
My thinking with these short, simple titles is that they’ll fit the genre and the spare style I’m using for the covers and also like the covers will sort of go together to give a sense of unity to the series. Will I run into difficulties marketing non entirely unique titles or will that work to my advantage? Will not entirely memorable titles prove to be an issue? I don’t know. I’ll have to find out.
Once again, I was super impressed with the speed with which Amazon was able to get a proof copy to me. So, hats off to them for that. I haven’t even begun working on my Ingram Spark covers. Though, part of that is deliberate as I’m hoping to be able to add some advance praise for Up the Creek to the back cover copy on Factory Girls. So, fingers crossed that happens!
I’m hopeful that this coming week won’t prove to be quite so hectic, but I do have to complete that mailing list transfer, and I’m guessing that will take more time than I expect it to take. These things alway do. I’ll do my best not to become hung up on the minutiae.