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Group Promos: A Newsletter Alternative?

Group Promos: A Newsletter Alternative?

Today, we are going to talk about group promos and their important use. You know what a swap is and group promo isn’t much different.

What is a group promo?

It’s basically a swap with many authors in it. Usually, they have a common theme such as “Halloween books” or “Sweet romance” or “KU books.”

  • In group promos, all authors must share the group promo at least once in their newsletter.
  • Dates. The promos don’t ran forever so you can only share on the according date.
  • Sometimes, there’s a specific list number requirement. 
  • Ex.: Accepted lists from 1k+
  • Some group promos are specifically designed for KU, 99 cents or even free books.

Types of group promos

Sales: This kind of group promo is for books at a reduced price

Giveaway: This group promo is to attract readers to your other books so it’s best if you submit a part of your first book of your series or a reader magnet. That way, you get readers and subscribers.

Kindle Unlimited: Only books that are in KU will be accepted.

What do I do?

On the days of the promotion, you put the banner and the link and you send it like a normal book 🙂 

Where do I find them?

There are lots of ways to find group promos. One of them is to scour cross-promoting groups on Facebook. Another way is through Story Origin and websites such as that.

So are group promos a newsletter replacement?

It’s up to you. You decide whether you want to use social swaps in lieu of newsletters or as an additional tool to reach more people.

Newsletter Swaps

Newsletter Swaps

What are newsletter swaps?

As an author, you’ll hear the word, ‘swaps’–short for newsletter swaps, a lot and personally, I can tell you it’s one of the most important ways to market your books.

That got your attention, huh? Good.

You share my book and I’ll share yours. Gears working? Swaps is the term we use for sharing another author’s book in our newsletter. 

What do I have to gain with that?

A lot. You spice up your newsletter since you don’t talk only about your books. You may discover a book you like because let’s not forget, you’re a reader too. Being featured in other lists, you can get sales.

Yes, that’s right. Sharing in social media might be a good start but it doesn’t necessarily gives you sales. With swaps, you have more chances to get sales and if you’re having a sale, even more so.

Remember, stick to your genre.

Why? If you’re a horror author and you swap with a romance author, there’s little chance for both parties to get sales. Fantasy and Paranormal Romance though are very close.

Take advantage of holidays.

If your book is about horror, take advantage of Halloween. Romance book pairs with summer and so on. Even if you don’t have a sale, readers stick to the holidays. In Christmas though, they might stray a little further and get multi-genre books.

Now that we sorted the basics, you’re ready to swap. But wait, where do I start?

Excellent question! On Facebook, you can find tons of groups for swaps. Just type the keywords “Swap” or “newsletter” and join the groups.

What do I have to do?

First, go through the most recent posts. Take a look at the dates. If your newsletter send date is between the dates of the asker, let them know you can swap with them. Or send them a private message.

Tips: Tag the asker on your comment. Why? Because Facebook doesn’t always notify us if one responded in our post.

Can I make my own post?

Why, of course! Just put what you want to swap, when and if you have a sale. Some groups have a special format of asking. Take a look before asking and post. Don’t be disappointed if no one answers. Post in different groups and don’t stick to one.

Story Origin –

What is Story Origin? It’s an easier platform to find swaps and personally, I rate it as the best app to find swaps. At the moment, it’s free to join.

First, you have to make an account. Then, go to Author Dashboard -> Campaign Planner. Your campaign planner is when you have scheduled your newsletter date. After you post the necessary data, you’re ready to swap so you must go to…

Newsletter Swaps

Click to find a swap. It will take you to a huge list so if you want to narrow it down a bit, go to Filters positioned on the top. Read the description and send date of each swap. Once you’ve found one that interests you, click Exchange Book Mention. You’ll have to wait for verification on your email. Once you’ve got it, it’s recorded on your profile under Newsletter Swaps.

Don’t worry about forgetting them. Story Origin has them recorded and on the date you must send your newsletter, it notifies you that today is your newsletter send date. Cool, huh?

I’ve sent my newsletter, now what?

There comes the receipt. Go to our campaign planner, click Edit to Archive link and put your newsletter link. In that way, the authors know you have included their books.

Include Story Origin’s track link only.

Why? Because Story Origin can track the swaps inside your newsletter and authors will know you have included your books. Same way goes for your books. They are all listed under Authors Promoting My Work

Other websites similar to Story Origin.

JQM Thoughts on Newsletters


I am James Quinlan Meservy

Fantasy Author Extraordinaire,

Creator of Creatures,

Embellisher of Events,

And Firebrand “Stories that Kindle Imagination”

I wanted to take a moment of your time and share my thoughts on newsletters or reader groups, as they are occasionally termed. I am not a big fan of newsletters, personally, I rarely subscribe to newsletters, rarely open newsletters when I receive one in my inbox, and rarely try to increase my number of subscribers, so my thoughts on the subject should be taken with a grain of salt, for despite reading about and learning about the importance of keeping an active newsletter, I have a hard time getting excited about newsletters. And that is what I want to discuss, my mindset on newsletters specifically and marketing & promotion in general.

While I served as a professional District Executive for the Boy Scouts of America a few years back in Wyoming, my greatest asset in working with adult volunteers was my enthusiasm for the youth programs supported by the BSA, how participating in those programs as a youth positively influenced my life, and how the values of the Scouting movement could positively influence the lives of today’s youth.

I lack that enthusiasm in my newsletters and my other marketing & promotion endeavors. And that is the personal challenge I am working on at present, finding a way to become enthusiastic about newsletters, finding my voice in a newsletter I can be excited about.

One thought that struck me from this recent month of posts about NLs was to write a newsletter to a specific friend. It should come as no surprise to anyone familiar with me and my Facebook presence that fellow Burning Embers co-founder, Alicia Scarborough, is a good personal friend of mine. And I greatly enjoy sharing ideas about my books with her as she shares her ideas with me. And we both get excited and enthusiastic about one another’s works. I have a similar friendship with KR Martin (author of the Sovereign of the Seas Series) and JN Tomczak (author of the Kingdom of the Faeries Series) and Tessonja Odette (author of the Lela Trilogy) just to name a few. So my challenge to myself, and if you are having as difficult a time as I sharing an enthusiastic voice when crafting your newsletter my challenge to you as well, is to pretend you are not sending out a newsletter, but that you are sharing a private message with a close friend.

Share with your friend, in the newsletter, updates on your current writing projects, book recommendations, both old & new releases, recent book reviews, or whatever your chosen NLs theme is. I have a strong suspicion, granted at this time it is just a suspicion that has not been tested, that as you get excited about crafting your newsletters, your followers will be more receptive to your message than if you used a bland monotone “here is the link to my new book, everyone please buy a copy” type voice and approach.

Audience & Genre – Newsletters for Beginners Part 3

Audience & Genre – Newsletters for Beginners Part 3

What in the world does audience & genre have to do with newsletters?

A lot. Trust me. They are more intertwined than you know.

Most seasoned newsletter veterans know that your audience and genre are key to delivering a successful newsletter.

Don’t believe me? Then ask around.

The ones that know what the heck they’re doing can pretty much have their fans eating out of their hands.

Pretty powerful stuff, eh?

Though to be honest, not all newsletters key in on these crucial pieces. They are missing either the genre or they are speaking to the masses instead of their intended individual.

Okay down to business…

What does genre have to do with your newsletter?

It determines the mood, theme or what you will be talking about in your letters to your adoring fans.

If you write paranormal horror then there is no way in heck that you would be writing about Peter Rabbit in the next letter… not unless Peter had an unfortunate event. Only if the subject relates to the genre that YOU write should it be included in your newsletter.

So if you write coming of age youth stories then you would write about youth related news that involves coming of age topics. You would include promotions for youth coming of age books — like Harry Potter, Artemis Fowl or Percy Jackson.

Genre will determine what giveaways or promos you could give away to your fans. Romance might be candles or youth might call for some cute kid thing-a-ma-bob you could send your fans. Remember your genre is key to keeping your audience ensnared in your news and craving for more.

What about audience? How does that play into your newsletters?

Did you do the exercise from part 2?

If not then here it is…

Write down the one person that you are writing your story for (they can be fictitious if you want them to be):

  • What is his/her name?
  • Age?
  • Likes and/or dis-likes?
  • Do they like reading?
  • What is the one quality that makes them stand out?

You need to know who you are writing for… down to the last freckle on their nose.

You are writing for that person and that person alone. Not Bo-Jim and not Sally-Ann.


If you chose to write to Billy down the street or little Suzy then that is who you are writing to and only them.

Do not…

under any circumstance…

write your letters…

as though you are…

addressing a huge crowd.


That is not how you do them.

Each letter is meant to be a one-on-one letter. You need to write them as though you are talking to Billy sitting across the table from you. Billy wouldn’t like it if you were talking to him through a megaphone and to the entire cafe.

He will probably get up and leave if you do that. So, don’t do it.

Please for the love of G, don’t do it.

One more thing… keep it conversational.

Alright let’s wrap things up.

As you have read by now you should know that a successful newsletter has two things nailed down:

  • Genre – What you write
  • Audience – Who you are writing for

Once you have those two things figured out then you’re at least 5% better than the average newsletter that is out there.

If you have any questions then please do not hesitate to ask in the comments. We’re always happy to answer for we’re all in this together.

Thank you for reading Burning Embers’ Newsletters for Beginners Part 3 – Audience & Genre.

Next post will be Newsletters for Beginners Part 4 – Fellow Author Newsletters

Missed Part 2? Go ahead and catch up on Newsletters for Beginners Part 2

Preparation – Newsletters for Beginners Part 2

Preparation – Newsletters for Beginners Part 2

How do you do preparation for newsletters?

Is it easy to prep?

Can anyone do this preparation?

Newsletters are not hard… well that is if you do preparation for them.

Would you believe me that all that huff and fluff about newsletters being hard is a bunch of bull hockey?

You see everyone who has complained about newsletters being hard are part of the “reactive” boat. They plan little or just do one when the feeling strikes them. Then they moan and groan about how it’s difficult to keep a regular cadence.

This is especially true for us procrastinators.

They put off planning in hopes it will go away. But that’s the worst thing that they can do when it comes to newsletters. For a well working newsletter is a well thought out plan done via preparation.

Without preparation we cannot plan. Without a plan means a inconsistent scheduled newsletter. It is through research that allows us to prep and then plan our newsletter to make it easy on ourselves.

When you start planning then you have transitioned over to the “proactive” boat. Which by the way is the boat with the most fun because it doesn’t have all the chaos happening on the other ship. No one likes the hair pulling nonsense that is happening over on the “reactive” boat.

So, how does one prepare for a newsletter?

If you guessed the first step is research then you get a gold star.

Yeah I know… I kind of hinted at that already. I reckon you’ll guess the next step is plan. However, let’s focus on the type of research one will need to do before you can start planning.

In my own experience research to me when it comes to newsletters is:

  • Target Audience – Youth? YA? New Adult? Naughty?
  • Genre – Fantasy? Romance? Sci-Fi?
  • Fellow Author Newsletters – what are they doing?
  • Newsletter Cadence – how often do you send it out?
  • Time – do you have it?

Target Audience & Genre

If you’ve already written your book then you have your target audience and genre nailed down… I hope. You did do that right? If not then no worries we’ll cover that in the next few posts.

Fellow Author Newsletters

The next part is to subscribe to a few fellow author’s newsletters to see how they’re doing it. You’ll want to take a look at the layout, what they write and how often they offer goodies to their subscribers.

Once you have an idea of what you liked and didn’t like from those newsletters go ahead and write down your rules (and your reasons why). You know the ones that state what you will and will not do for your newsletter. Seriously, write it down. It’ll help jog your memory as to why you’re doing or not doing something later on down the road.


Then move on to your desired cadence — aka your newsletter schedule. Each genre is different and sometimes you’ll need to tweak your schedule to hit that sweet spot. Though, I will say that most fans will get annoyed if you decide to send them an email every day.

Don’t say I didn’t warn you because you will see your subscriber numbers drop dramatically if you try to email them daily. Not to mention it will raise the likelihood of your newsletter being marked as SPAM. * * shudder * * nobody wants that… not even MY enemies (not like I have enemies… <.<”)


Finally, you need determine how much time you have to dedicate to your newsletter. You have to factor in all your author-y duties, family commitments, work (if you still work) and other life stuff.

It would not be reasonable to say that you can do a weekly newsletter if you got tons of other stuff going on in your life. Weekly schedules can be done… I’ve seen it.

Such as a Mom of four that chauffeurs them to practice after she gets home from work, grocery shops, does chores and makes dinner. On top of that still plans out her weekly newsletters, gets the current scheduled and ready to go out the door.

It’s all about planning.

To start I recommend doing at the most a bi-weekly newsletter to get your toes wet then eventually increasing it to the bi-weekly to weekly newsletter. I must warn you that before you change up the schedule you have to let your subscribers know.

Any change to the newsletter cadence is definitely news worthy. You can always mention it in the previous newsletter before the new schedule goes into effect.


So, in essence preparation for a newsletter is research and planning. Once you have done your research then you are ready to start planning.

You have your cadence, genre, audience, format and allotted time figured out. Now is the moment to start puzzling these pieces together. Like what does one write in a newsletter?

There are tons of things that you can put in there. It can be genre related news, swaps, latest story that you’re working on or perhaps it could contain a new freebie for your adoring fans. Any of those things work because it’s your newsletter.

Yet, we’ll cover what to put in the newsletter a bit more in depth later on.

Before I go there’s a bit of homework for you to do to help figure out your audience or to get a better idea of your target audience…

Write down the one person that you are writing your story for (they can be fictitious if you want them to be):

  • What is his/her name?
  • Age?
  • Likes and/or dis-likes?
  • Do they like reading?
  • What is the one quality that makes them stand out?

If you have any questions then please do not hesitate to ask in the comments. We’re always happy to answer for we’re all in this together.

Thank you for reading Burning Embers’ Newsletters for Beginners Part 2 – Preparation.

Next post will be Newsletters for Beginners Part 3 – Audience & Genre

Missed Part 1? Go ahead and catch up on Newsletters for Beginners Part 1

Newsletters for Beginners Part 1

Newsletters for Beginners Part 1

Just starting out with newsletters??
No worries. We’ve got your back.

There is tons of information out there on newsletters…

Are you scratching your head and asking…

“What are newsletters? Why do I need them? And how can they benefit me?”

Then you’re in the right place. I was in the same boat as you are now about a year ago. Though I won’t call myself the total expert.

However, I can lend you my thoughts and knowledge on what I’ve learned about newsletters.

Follow along this month as Burning Embers guides you through the vast amounts of information there is on newsletters and clarifies what you truly need to know and what you can kick to the curb.

So, what are newsletters?

Have you ever subscribed to something and received an email from that store or person like once a month, bi-weekly or even weekly?

That’s a newsletter.

Usually it has updates from the person or shop letting you know what’s going on and if there’s any cool sales or goodies that you can purchase.

Some newsletters have freebie offers. Tons of people love these. In fact that is how most people get subscribed to newsletters through the lure of a free item.

We’ll go deeper into freebies / lead magnets later this month. For now just know that this is how most people end up subscribed to newsletters.

But basically a newsletter is an update in the form of an email sent to a list of people who subscribed to your list. Newsletters are sent out on either a weekly, bi-weekly, monthly or even quarterly basis. It is rare for a newsletter to not follow a schedule. Subscribers don’t like newsletters that are sent whenever.

We’ll cover schedules and what you can do to determine your newsletter cadence for your audience later on this series.

Let’s move on to why you need your own newsletter.

What’s the real reason as to why would you need to do your own newsletter?

If you’re like me then you’re probably a wee bit of an introvert. You cringe at needing to communicate with the outside world. So, the idea of a newsletter makes your heart race and your palms sweat.

Yeah. I totally understand. Really. I do.

However, you still need your own newsletter.

If you’re serious about being an author and cultivating your own fan base then you need a newsletter.

I hear ya back there screaming “But what about social media? Can’t I reach my fans there?”

No, social media should not be the solution. In fact you’re more likely to waste your time there growing an audience only to have the social media giants pull the rug out from under you. I will say that social media is good for meeting people but that’s it.

Social media is a distraction. You should do your best to direct your friends and acquaintances to your website or little spot that is off of social media. Then grow your fandom there. Trust me. Because the social media giants are only big for so long before they become yesterday’s frail has been.

Back to the reason why you need a newsletter.

Newsletters offer you the opportunity to talk to your audience on a one-on-one basis. Emails are personal. Seriously, they are. Go take a look at the last email you’ve received. If the person did it right then you felt like they were talking to you… not a whole group. That’s pretty special.

Newsletters let your audience feel more connected to you. It makes you feel human to them. Not to mention that newsletters are by far the most powerful marketing tool you can wield.

What about the saying, “Email is dead.”

That in my opinion is complete and utter 100% bull hockey. But, that is my own opinion. Email is still going strong and your audience still knows how to use it. It is well used by a wide age range. Grandma and Grandpa know how to open an email and so does little Billy down the street.

Email is here to stay (for now) and may even outlive the silly social giants but I will not hold my breath.

Now how can newsletters benefit you?

We kind of touched on this already but pretty much it will allow you to get that one-on-one connection with your audience. Dive deep to have the inside knowledge of what they want and what they truly crave.

Also, if done right you can reach thousands with the click of a mouse.

None of this bull where only 20 people out of your 500+ friends saw your post.

Nope. When you send your newsletter email it is sent directly to your subscribers’ inbox.

The only things that could prevent them from seeing it are the spam box, they have too much email or forgot to open it. We’ll cover this piece later on this month too.

As you can see is that newsletters are powerful. You can use them to do swaps (to reach more people), keep your audience informed and be on the forefront of your audiences’ mind.

If you are on the top of your subscriber’s mind then you are closer to having them remember your name when they peruse the book stores. They are more likely to purchase your products than someone else’s because you’re more familiar to them.

This my friend, is a powerful, powerful, most powerful tool.

Uh, I can see you drooling… you might want to wipe your chin. I did the same thing when I realized the potential of newsletters. For they are pretty potent with possibilities.


Alright let’s wrap things up about what we learned about newsletters:

  1. Newsletters are emails sent to a list of subscribers on a schedule such as weekly, bi-weekly, monthly or even quarterly.
  2. You need a newsletter so that you can keep an open communication with your audience outside of social media.
  3. They can benefit you because you can reach a larger number with one click (as opposed to social media) and your name becomes trusted by your subscriber.

That’s about it for our introduction on newsletters. There is so much more for us to cover. We promise to continue on in this series with more information.

If you have any questions then please do not hesitate to ask in the comments. We’re always happy to answer for we’re all in this together.

Thank you for reading Burning Embers’ Newsletters for Beginners Part 1.

Next post will be Newsletters for Beginners Part 2 – Preparation