So here’s the deal with the sweepstakes.
I decided to put out a newsletter twice a year and in that newsletter I’m going to highlight my favorite books for young readers. The reasons this idea appeals to me are that 1) I’ll be able to read great books without feeling guilty, since the reading will be part of work, and 2) I’ll be able to talk about books I love, which is a passion of mine. I’ll publish the newsletter in May, to give you suggestions for summer reading, and again in November, to give you ideas for Christmas presents.
So why am I offering prizes to people who subscribe?
Long ago in a land far away people used to print magazines. In those magazines they printed articles of value and they sold subscriptions to readers who wanted to read the articles. They also sold advertising to people who wanted to bombard the readers with sales pitches.
But those days are gone. Now we live in a world where information is free and we have more of it than we can ever possibly use. We have no need to consume info in any systematic way or in large quantities, it seems, and we for sure don’t need to retain any of it; we can Google it, use it, forget it, and re-Google it the next time we have a need.
So now, instead of selling articles all bundled up into magazines, we give articles away for free on blogs and in newsletters. But there are so many free blog posts and newsletters and books, that we’re all scrambling around looking for ways to get noticed in the midst of the mudslide that we call information overload. We’ve gone from being paid for our articles, to giving them away free, to, now, paying readers to subscribe to our blogs.
I’ve been reading up on how to build a platform. You have to start small and build a following of people who really like you. That’s the only kind of platform worth having. But before they can like you, people have to “taste” you. Even God has to tell people to “taste and see that the LORD is good.” So how to entice people to taste my newsletter and sign up for it?
Popular bloggers tell us is that we should offer something free to our visitors in exchange for their coveted contact info. We don’t want to let them off our site without making them sign up or subscribe, so we should bribe them with some nice e-book we’ve put together from blog posts, perhaps, or an e-book version of a market study—those are hot these days.
So all of a sudden, everyone and his blogging brother is offering a free e-book and now I have e-books coming out my USB ports. Books I’ve never read. Books I’m never going to read. Books I downloaded simply because I can’t pass up something that’s free.
Why haven’t I read these valuable volumes? Probably because you get what you pay for, more times than not. The books containing information are often comprised of Googled info, copied and pasted. Why fill up my hard drive with that, when I can as easily Google the info for my own self? And the books that are artsy and written by the author are usually…a tad bit disappointing. I’ve given these people my name and address in order to allow them to spam me and all I’ve gotten in exchange is a lousy e-book. (It reminds me of those cheesy t-shirts my friends used to have: My grandmother went to Hawaii and all I got was this lousy T-shirt.) I’m talking lousy e-books. One popular blogger gave me an e-book that was something like 64 pages long and each page had one or two sentences.
Oh, but what profound sentences they were. They said things like:
Today, give yourself permission to mix orange and green. Today you are in a place you will never be again.
Really? That’s the best you can give me?
“So what can I give my blog readers?” I asked myself. I don’t want to give you all a lousy e-book made up of posts that I’ve cobbled together. I don’t want to give you some silly poem stretched out over dozens of pages.
I want your addresses, but I want to give you something worthwhile in return. So this is how the newsletter and sweepstakes idea was born. If you give me you name and address, I’ll give you a quality newsletter twice a year, and I’ll also put you in the hat for a chance to win a Kindle Fire.
Why do I want your addresses so badly? I love to give things away, but I’m really not rich, and I’m not giving away a Kindle Fire twice a year because I have too much money and don’t have anything better to spend it on. I want to build a following made up of people who like to read picture books, middle grade books, and young adult books, because I am planning on publishing some books of my own in a year or two. When my books start coming out, I want to tell subscribers about them.
So if you are interested in PB, MB, or YA books, please sign up for my newsletter. It will only come twice a year, it will be professionally done, it will be full of suggestions for great books for you or for your children or your grandchildren or nieces and nephews, and you will be in the running, twice a year, for a Kindle Fire or some lovely books. There’s no way you can lose. I promise to never spam you or sell your info to anyone.
Now…there is one caveat. While I will for sure give the prizes away for the first round, if I only have a couple hundred subscribers by then, I will have to cancel the sweepstakes part of the deal for the next round. I’ll have to add it to my long list of failed experiments. Nothing new. I have these great ideas that peter out all the time. If I cancel the sweepstakes, I’ll let you know so you can unsubscribe if you like. But perhaps the list will grow big enough to justify my continuing with the sweepstakes. Perhaps you will tweet this to, or share it with, your children’s-book-loving followers on social media sites, and perhaps 20,000 or 50,000 people will sign up. And perhaps a NY publishing house will think I’m a clever blogger and offer me a fourteen-book contract, and perhaps I’ll wake tomorrow to find that I’m young and skinny, and…
Did I say all that out loud?