The Perfect Content Cocktail: Newsletter Curation & Creation

Organizing and sending out a newsletter involves more than just grabbing random pieces of information and sticking them into a Mailchimp template. Newsletters are a great way for a publisher to give subscribers new information about your titles or the press. As the publicity manager, one of my tasks is to send out quarterly newsletters. But getting people to read them is another story. That’s why I decided to change up how we do our newsletters while simultaneously giving some love to our backlist titles.

Sales-only newsletters do not do much in terms of creating excitement about your newsletter. They can often turn people off from reading because they are overly pushy. It’s okay to want to sell books through your newsletter, and you should. However, there should also be other content inside the newsletter your readers may find interesting or engaging. In short, you need to create the perfect content cocktail. This “cocktail” of content should strike a balance between created content, curated content, and sales materials.

So, what exactly is curated content? According to Stevie Snow, content curation “is the process of finding relevant content from external sources and sharing it with your audience.” It is important to consider that your audience may not always want to hear from your brand all the time. They will appreciate the occasional article or social post showing something else they may be interested in that’s still similar to your brand or company.

Original Content:

Content you or your team have created.

Original content includes blog posts, social media posts, images, etc.

Curated Content:

Content from external sources.

When using curated content, keep in mind these five simple rules created by Curata in 2016.

  1. Only use a small portion of the original article.
  2. Always give credit to the original creator and try to guide visitors to the original publication.
  3. Retitle the content you use.
  4. Add your own creativity and voice to the content you curate.
  5. Try to make sure your notes and ideas are longer than the excerpt you are reposting.

Need help finding relevant curated content? Here are a few sites that provide articles and posts you can save and share with your audience:

Pocket

Scoop.it

Feedly

Content curation is used to help with the creation of newsletters. Coming up with fresh, new content for every newsletter may be difficult. The content curation strategy assists with “putting time back in your day, filling up your content calendar, making a good impression, and staying relevant.”

Sales Content:

Any materials promoting your books and pushing people to buy them.

While putting together a newsletter from scratch may seem daunting, the process speeds up when you learn how to make the perfect content cocktail using 65 percent original content, 25 percent curated content, and 10 percent sales content. With all the information available at our fingertips, it is vital to make it easy for readers to engage with useful content. Creating a mix of content allows you to become a reliable source of information your audience will (hopefully) engage with and enjoy.

How Personal Branding Can Impact Getting Your Book Acquired

Hopefully, everybody knows by now that we’re in the age of media; we’re expected to have an online presence—consistently—and to figure out how to toe the line of sharing-but-not-oversharing on any and all media platforms. Sounds easy, right? If you answered “no” to that rhetorical question, you came to the right place.

Personal branding, especially as a writer, is complicated, confusing, and—unfortunately—completely necessary. While your presence and brand online aren’t the only factors that contribute to your publishing dreams or successes, your personal brand does have a huge impact on how both readers and publishing professionals alike will see you. We’ll let you in on a little secret: you’re easy to find on the internet. And yes, we do check.

As the acquisitions department, we’re often the first point of contact for writers. We receive queries and submissions, evaluate them based on the writing, sometimes offer the opportunity for developmental edits, and decide what books to pitch to the whole staff at Ooligan Press. In order to feel confident pitching a manuscript to the press, we need to know more about you. Yes, you. We want to see how you present yourself to others in the publishing community, how you interact with book lovers, who you know, and who you could meet. Everything. All of this information gives us ideas on how best to reach your book’s audience; if we can figure that out based on the personal brand you’ve built as a writer, it’s one more point in your favor. Joanna Penn at The Creative Penn said it best: “Brand not only tells the world who you are and what you stand for, it also encourages target customers to align with your brand.” Simply put, your brand gives your book another leg to stand on and makes it easier for a publisher to take a risk on you.

At this point, you may be picturing your brand—or what you want your brand to be—and how under- or overdeveloped it might be. Is it too late to start branding myself? Is it ingenuine to brand myself? What are the best ways to brand myself without taking too much time away from my writing? These are all questions you may ask yourself when it comes to personal branding, but don’t worry; we’ve got you covered. Here are the top five ways to enhance (or begin) your personal brand.

  1. Identify your audience. This may seem like a self-explanatory step, but keep in mind that even if you’re a young adult fantasy author, you have the potential to reach readers who read adult fantasy or young adult of all genres. Know the primary audience for your writing, but never limit yourself.
  2. Determine who you want to be. This sounds philosophical in nature, but it’s more about finding a balance between your personal and professional life. How much do you want to share about yourself with your audience? Do you want to rely on facts or anecdotal humor? What do you want your audience to think when they first see or hear your name? Figure that out and develop the voice for it.
  3. Know what you’re branding. This is the thing people neglect the most. Since you want to sell your book (whether it be to readers or a publisher), the most obvious thing to brand is the book itself, right? Wrong. You’re branding yourself as a member of the writing community and hoping that branding yourself turns into sales. Nobody wants to scroll through a Twitter profile and see the same tweets about your historical lit fic over and over again—they want to know about you. If they really connect with you, they’ll find a way to get the book. I promise.
  4. Set expectations. Do you write in all genres? Only one? What other hobbies do you have? After a time, your audience will form expectations from your online content, and if you set those expectations early on, you will always satisfy them.
  5. Be consistent. Whether you use one form of media or spread yourself across the whole world that social media has to offer, make sure your brand is consistent across the board. A dedicated audience will try to find you on multiple platforms, and you want to ensure you’re meeting their expectations on each one. As Penn says, “it’s not simply about the look, but also what you say and how you say it. So certainly come up with a branded Twitter header, for example, but ensure your tweets are also ‘on brand.'”

To sum it all up, a personal brand is important because it shows the world who you are and what you stand for, and it shows publishers exactly what they can expect from you, your writing, and your audience. We want to stress that personal brand isn’t everything. In fact, believe it or not, the first step to getting acquired is…writing a good book.

Alas, that’s a blog for another day, so get back to writing and building that beautiful brand of yours.

How Personal Branding Can Impact Getting Your Book Acquired

Hopefully, everybody knows by now that we’re in the age of media; we’re expected to have an online presence—consistently—and to figure out how to toe the line of sharing-but-not-oversharing on any and all media platforms. Sounds easy, right? If you answered “no” to that rhetorical question, you came to the right place.

Personal branding, especially as a writer, is complicated, confusing, and—unfortunately—completely necessary. While your presence and brand online aren’t the only factors that contribute to your publishing dreams or successes, your personal brand does have a huge impact on how both readers and publishing professionals alike will see you. We’ll let you in on a little secret: you’re easy to find on the internet. And yes, we do check.

As the Acquisitions department, we’re often the first point of contact for writers. We receive queries and submissions, evaluate them based on the writing, sometimes offer the opportunity for developmental edits, and decide on what books to pitch to the whole staff at Ooligan Press. In order to feel confident pitching a manuscript to the press, we need to know more about you. Yes, you. We want to see how you present yourself to others in the publishing community, how you interact with book lovers, who you know, who you could meet. Everything. All of this information gives us ideas on how best to reach your book’s audience; if we can figure that out based on the personal brand you’ve built as a writer, it’s one more point in your favor. Joanna Penn at The Creative Penn said it best: “Brand not only tells the world who you are and what you stand for, it also encourages target customers to align with your brand.” Simply put, your brand gives your book another leg to stand on and makes it easier for a publisher to take a risk on you.

At this point, you may be picturing your brand—or what you want your brand to be—and how under- or overdeveloped it might be. Is it too late to start branding myself? Is it ingenuine to brand myself? What are the best ways to brand myself without taking too much time away from my writing? These are all questions you may ask yourself when it comes to personal branding, but don’t worry; we’ve got you covered. Here are the top five ways to enhance (or begin) your personal brand:

  1. Identify your audience. This may seem like a self-explanatory step, but keep in mind that even if you’re a young adult fantasy author, you have the potential to reach readers who read adult fantasy or young adult of all genres. Know the primary audience for your writing, but never limit yourself.
  2. Determine who you want to be. This sounds philosophical in nature, but it’s more about finding a balance between your personal and professional life. How much do you want to share about yourself with your audience? Do you want to rely on facts or anecdotal humor? What do you want your audience to think when they first see or hear your name? Figure that out and develop the voice for it.
  3. Know what you’re branding. This is the one people neglect the most. Since you want to sell your book (whether it be to readers or a publisher), the most obvious thing to brand would be the book itself, right? Wrong. You’re branding yourself as a member of the writing community and hoping that branding yourself turns into sales. Nobody wants to scroll through a Twitter profile and see the same tweets about your historical lit fic over and over—they want to know about you. If they really connect with you, they’ll find a way to get the book. I promise.
  4. Set expectations. Do you write in all genres? Only one? What other hobbies do you have? After a time, your audience will have expectations from your online content, and if you set the expectations early on, you will always satisfy them.
  5. Be consistent. Whether you use one form of media or spread yourself across the whole world that social media has to offer, make sure your brand is consistent across the board. A dedicated audience will try to find you on multiple platforms, and you want to ensure you’re meeting their expectations on each one. As Penn says, “it’s not simply about the look, but also what you say and how you say it. So certainly come up with a branded Twitter header, for example, but ensure your tweets are also ‘on brand.'”

To sum it all up, a personal brand is important because it shows the world who you are and what you stand for, and it shows publishers exactly what they can expect from you, your writing, and your audience. We want to stress that personal brand isn’t everything. In fact, believe it or not, the first step to getting acquired is…write a good book.

Alas, that’s a blog for another day, so get back to writing and building that beautiful brand of yours.

Marketing Yourself First

Say you’ve written a book or two, maybe even three. That’s it, right? Get it into the hands of an agent or publisher and you’re home free.

Wrong.

With the heavy rise in social media over the course of the last few years, people in the publishing industry are often looking for different ways to get necessary information and announcements to the public. While Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook are quick ways to get short announcements out, they are also heavily trafficked sites—it has become much harder to find content on those sites unless you are specifically looking for it. But if social media isn’t the answer to your marketing dreams, then what is?

At this point, it may seem like an age-old concept, but it’s one that will never retire: create your own website. An author website is a good step for any writer because it presents a space entirely about YOU. There is no fighting for attention or worrying about your followers missing an important post because you have the ability to control the content people see. Your posts won’t get lost in the sea of people shouting their announcements across the internet.

But how do you make a website, you ask? Although it’s tempting to opt for a design-heavy site, it is possible to gain traction and a following from a simple template. Dongwon Song, literary agent at Howard Morhaim Literary, posted on Twitter about what authors must include on their site. He said, “If you’re a writer you need to have a website. Here’s what goes on it: your name, your beautiful face, a list of books you done wroted, a bio (shorter is better), an email contact form, newsletter signup. THAT’S IT.”

While it’s tempting to place a lot of extra information on a website—you’re excited and the site is shiny and new and you have so many ideas—it is important to keep in mind how you want to brand yourself for your career. Starting out with the basics allows people to get to know you and gives you free reign for your brand when you feel more established in your career.

Keep in mind: page rank doesn’t matter. With the standard Google algorithms, you’d have to pay a good chunk of cash to show up as the top result regardless. However, if you make your site clear, concise, and accessible to the general public, especially when it comes to where they can find information about you, they are more likely to engage with your social media content and (eventually) buy your books upon release.

Instead of thinking of your website like an all-expenses paid luxury vacation spot, think of your site as the coffee shop on the corner with the always-reliable vanilla latte. Before you expel a bunch of effort into your website’s aesthetic, understand the basic concepts and how they can further your professional career goals.

In the words of Dongwon Song, “Think of your site as a digital business card.”