Everyone says, “You’ve gotta have a newsletter!”

Newsletters are a vitally important tool that authors can use to connect with readers.”

An author newsletter is an invaluable tool for authors.”

The data is in, and the guidance is out there, easy to find. Every Indie author needs a newsletter. So, yes, it’s clear. I’ve gotta have a newsletter.

Email “envelope symbols” above an electronic tablet visually describe sending emails.
Photo from Bigstock Photos, via The Book Designer blog.

As a former direct marketer, I already know this. Back in pre-Internet days, I was one of the people trying to convince tight-fisted small business owners to create a newsletter (and, incidentally, to hire me to produce it!).

So, then. Why haven’t I created one till now?

Because: Reasons.

I tried to set one up almost a year before I released my first book, What’s Bred in the Bone. I went with MailChimp, which is a reputable service that several friends use. The service starts the small folk out for free. I installed their plugin . . . and nothing happened.

Since I apparently had no one to send it to, I never wrote a newsletter. Then I got busy with several dozen other things. I always meant to come back to it, but it seemed a low priority. Zero subscribers, and low energy to go out and pursue any, kept that project on the back burner.

Finally, another friend who understands coding a lot better than I do looked at it. She’d tried to sign up and it sent her into cyber la-la land. It had done that to me, too, but I had no idea how to fix it.

She discovered the plugin interface was corrupted. She also found evidence that several hundred people had tried to sign up–but instead of going to my landing page, they took the same “nowhere” trip she had.

Oops! Is my face red!

If you’re one of the several hundred, I’m really sorry about that! Yikes. We uninstalled the plugin, I said goodby to MailChimp, and I vowed to try the whole thing again in the future “when I have more time.”

At that point I was hip-deep in creating a small press, Weird Sisters Publishing, with my sister. Also, getting What’s Bred in the Bone into print, which at the time I compared to wading through a swamp. (So far, alas, I’m still not a very adept Swamp Thing, but practice does help).

Book covers for “Deep Ellum Pawn,” “The Other Side of Fear,” and “Deep Ellum Blues.”
Deep Ellum Pawn and Deep Ellum Blues cover art © 2019 and 2020 respectively by Chaz Kemp. The Other Side of Fear cover art © 2020 by Lucy A. Synk.

After that I got busy making the rounds of conventions (this was before Covid-19). After that, producing Deep Ellum Pawn.

And then working on A Bone to Pick and The Other Side of Fear.

And most recently, producing Deep Ellum Blues.

So, why now?

Because it’s way past high time. Since I didn’t start one several years ago, the next-best time is now. And besides, I’ve started getting all these cool pictures from my artist friend, Lucy A. Synk.

Lucy Synk has painted four of the male Pack members in running poses.
Portraits of (L-R) Tuxedo, Victor, Razor and Rex are all © 2020 by Lucy A. Synk.

Lucy and I have embarked on a mission to create portraits of all the XK9s in the Orangeboro Pack (I inform and finance; she paints). This has been a dream of mine, ever since I first realized how beautiful the Pack would be, all assembled together. Each has a unique coat color and personality. I can’t wait to introduce them to you visually!

That starts with this newsletter, but introducing Pack members is only the beginning.

What’s in the newsletter that you can’t get on the blog?

I’ve created blog posts about working with artists to develop cover artwork for Deep Ellum Pawn, The Other Side of Fear, and Deep Ellum Blues.

But glimpses of the “backstage” part of my work don’t show up too often on the blog.

In the October newsletter, Jan describes her efforts to visualize the environment inside Wheel Two of Rana Station.
Models and photos © 2017-2020 by Jan S. Gephardt.

They’ll be a regular feature of the newsletter. I’ll talk lots more about my works-in-progress. I’ll offer glimpses of ideas I’m developing for future work, character sketches, maps, and timelines.

I’ll also get a little more personal about what’s going on in my life, and how it informs my work.

Early glimpses and preview-previews

Lucy Synk painted a calico cat with a sweet expression.
This not-quite-finished
painting of Kali (for
one thing, no whiskers yet)
is © 2020 by Lucy A. Synk.

Newsletter readers will get the “scoops.” The early glimpses. First looks at early scenes, ideas, and more. And newsletter readers will get to tell me what they think, especially if there’s something I haven’t yet decided, and I’m not sure which way to go.

For instance, when I was deciding on a name for Hildie’s cat, I asked my Facebook followers for ideas, and they voted (her name is Kali). Readers will get to meet her in A Bone to Pick.

From now on, I’ll be asking my newsletter readers such questions, instead.

Newsletter readers also get the first crack at presales and special offers, whenever I or Weird Sisters Publishing come out with something new. So. Are you interested? I sure hope so!

Shall we try this again?

I’m really doing it this time! I’ve signed up with a different mail service, ConvertKit, this time. Their interface makes more sense to me, and I think I’ve gotten all of the components loaded and turned on. I not only gotta have a newsletter, I now have the first one written!

It’s full of information on several current topics, including a look at some of the models I’ve made, to help me visualize the environment inside Rana Station better.

I have lots more things to share in future months, and I’d really like to include you in the audience I share it with! Will you please sign up for my monthly newsletter?