Friday, June 02, 2006

Newsletter #6

Do newsletters work? If you're an author, what should you include in your newsletter? How many should you send out a year?

I talk about the value and importance of newsletters on the Tips page of my website. But here's a quick course:
  • Don't intentionally spam.
  • Use a bulk emailer to organize addresses and opt-outs. I use
  • Focus on what you have to offer, not what you have to sell.
  • Don't be boring. Be funny. Be informative. Be quick.
  • Make sure the layout is okay. Many people don't accept HTML, so I stick to plain text.
  • Don't send more than four newsletters out a year--it's annoying, and nothing you're doing in your career is that important.

Here's my latest newsletter, for those of you who haven't gotten a copy:

Straight Up-The Official Newsletter of Author J.A. Konrath #6

In this issue:
--Contests and Winners
--Thriller: An Anthology
--The "Rusty Nail 500" Bookstore Summer Tour (aka "Will JA Survive?")
--Recent News
--Freebies (read until the end for free stuff!)


You're on this mailing list because you love books. I love them, too. This email is my way of reaching out to you readers, librarians, bookstore employees, fellow authors, and giving you free stuff. If you want to be taken off this list, just reply with REMOVE in the header or opt out using the link at the bottom.

My third Lt. Jacqueline "Jack" Daniels thriller novel, RUSTY NAIL, is being released in hardcover and on audio this July. The first two novels in the series, WHISKEY SOUR and BLOODY MARY, are currently available in paperback, hardcover, and on audio. They'll make you laugh, and then scare your socks off. Please head to your favorite bookstore and buy fifteen copies for yourself and everyone you know.

Now let's get to the free stuff:


Winning stuff is cool. Especially if you don't have to do a lot. Here are my current contests:


Lots of people have blogs these days. I have one called A NEWBIE'S GUIDE TO PUBLISHING at

If you have a blog, use it to write a review of WHISKEY SOUR or BLOODY MARY, send me the link, and I'll send you a free signed copy of RUSTY NAIL. How easy is that?

You can also write a review of RUSTY NAIL, and I'll send you a signed copy of something else. I'm easy that way.


Can you write a crime story in 500 words or less? If so, send it my way. The best story wins a cash prize of $100, plus their name as a character in my next book. They'll also win a signed copy of RUSTY NAIL ("Violent thrills peppered with hilarious one-liners!" - Publishers Weekly).

Rules: Stories must be less than 500 words (not including title and author name) and involve a murder. It must be sent in the body of an email, with the header "500 Word Story Contest". One entry per person, the last day to submit is Oct 31, 2006, contest open to everyone except me, because that just wouldn't be very fair, would it?

Get writing!


This one is simple. In the acknowledgements of RUSTY NAIL I thank close to a hundred booksellers by name, because they each sold twenty or more copies of my books.

If you sell twenty or more copies of my books, I'll happily thank you in the acknowledgements of DIRTY MARTINI, which is coming out June of 2007. Just send me an email and let me know how many you've sold. The bookseller who sells the most will have the villain in FUZZY NAVEL named after them.

Several characters in my books, including Steve Jensen, Holly Frakes, James Munchel, and Steve Jurczyk, are named after booksellers, and I want you to be next. Thanks for all of your hard work and effort! I love you folks! Booksellers rule!


I've had over a hundred entries so far, but I want more. Go to my website and click on the link that says FOR LIBRARIES. That will automatically enter you in the contest. In November, I'll put all the names in a hat and will pick a random library. This lucky library will win a free visit from me, where I'll do a talk, give you lots of free books, and also give everyone who shows up to see me a free book. If you want me to drop by and shower your library and your patrons with gifts, visit

--THRILLER edited by James Patterson

This is the biggest anthology of all time, featuring an all-star line-up of bestselling authors including Lee Child, James Rollins, Katherine Neville, David Morrell, Michael Palmer, MJ Rose, F. Paul Wilson, Gregg Hurwitz, Steve Berry, and a slew of others. It also contains a Jack Daniels tie-in story called EPITAPH, written by me.

Visit for more info, then run out and buy copies for everyone you know.


I'm dropping in 500 bookstores this summer, signing stock and passing out coasters and telling booksellers how much I love them. This is a driving tour, and I'll be visiting at least 25 different states during 70 days on the road.

If you're a bookstore employee, and want me to stop in and say hello, email me at and I'll be able to tell you when I'll possibly be in your area.

If you've already contacted me, you'll be hearing from me very soon, as I'm finally beginning to set times and dates.

If you think I'm crazy and won't make it, keep an eye on my blog and website. I'll be posting daily updates about who I meet and where I visit, beginning July 3rd. Gambling on my success or failure will be encouraged. Meeting me somewhere on the road and buying me a beer will also be encouraged.


**If you've never read any Jack Daniels, here's your chance to try her out for only 49 cents! has a new program where you can purchase short stories for pocket change.

My contribution, A FOUR PACK OF JACK, features four Jack Daniels tie-in stories, and you get all four for the super-low cost of super-sizing your French fries. You'll laugh. You'll cry. You'll freak out. And you just might learn something. But probably not.


Or if that URL is too long and unwieldy, go to and click on the link on my homepage.

**I edited an anthology called THESE GUNS FOR HIRE, which is debuting this year at Bouchercon in Madison. It's published by the gurus at Bleak House Books. THESE GUNS features 31 hit-man stories by some of the best writers in the biz, including:

David Morrell, William Kent Krueger, Raymond Benson, Ken Bruen, Jay Bonansinga, Jeff Strand, Libby Fischer Hellmann, Jeff Abbott, Jeremiah Healy, David Ellis, Sean Doolittle, Brian Wiprud, Michael A. Black, Lawrence Block, Reed Farrel Coleman, MJ Rose,Max Allan Collins, Ed Gorman, John Galligan, Victor Gischler, Julie A. Hyzy, Mitchell Graham, Rob Kantner, Benjamin Leroy, PJ Parrish, Monica J. O'Rourke, Marcus Sakey, Paul A. Toth, Robert W. Walker, Lisa Mannetti, and me.

It's an amazing anthology. Visit for a sneak peek.

**Bloody Mary won the Love is Murder People's Choice Award for Best Novel in a series. ( I also won an Ellery Queen Reader's Choice Award for the Lt. Jack Daniels story WITH A TWIST. Speaking of EQMM, there's a Jack Daniels tie-in story in the recent June issue called SUFFER. Buy a bunch for those you love.

**I'm Toastmaster at the upcoming Backspace Writer's Conference ( being held July 21-22 in NYC. If you'd like to meet some famous authors, agents, and editors, this is the event to attend. It's almost full, so act fast.

**I recently visited Brilliance, my audio publisher, and was able to record a few tracks for RUSTY NAIL. The talented duo of Dick Hill and Susie Breck, who did such a great job reading WHISKEY SOUR and BLOODY MARY, again provide the voices for the latest, which is available on cassette, CD, and MP3. I had a chance to voice a character, and also read my story THE DEATH OF JACK DANIELS, which is exclusive to the audiobook.


Free stuff is cool. A few times a year I have a random drawing for free J.A. Konrath merchandise, and everyone on my mailing list is eligible. Two newsletter subscribers have been randomly picked to receive some cool gifts.

The lucky winners this time are: Val Stark and Shanna Arnold.

Congrats! Email me at so I can send you signed copies of RUSTY NAIL. You'll also have characters named after you in FUZZY NAVEL, the fifth Jack Daniels book. Probably corpses. :)

Also, since I want to reward people who read this entire newsletter, the first ten people who email me will get a free advance reading copy of THESE GUNS FOR HIRE.

Remember: JA loves you. Do any other authors profess their love for you? Does Dan Brown? Does Patricia Cornwell? Nope. But I do. And I'm not just saying that to get you to buy my books. I love you for who you are.

You're special. Never forget that.

See you on the road this summer!

JA Konrath


Zinnia said...

Read the newsletter when it popped into my inbox. I have one through Yahoo Groups.

JA Konrath said...

I forgot to mention: within five minutes of sending out the newsletter, I had 567 new messages in my INBOX.

Since I have a signing tonight, there's no way I'll get through all of these until tomorrow or Monday. But I will get through them!

Anonymous said...

How do you define intentional spam? Do you have people opt-in before you put them on your email list, or do you add people when you receive email from them?

Author-Gerald said...

Once again, an entertaining read from JAK.

It's good to see your name up there with some of those perhaps more well-known than your good self in the "Thriller" anthology. Surprised that so many of them don't have their personal websites linked at the bottom of the bios. Tsk tsk.

JA Konrath said...

Intentional spam is adding someone by harvesting their email address someplace.

The majority of the people who get my newsletter have signed up for it.

A smaller number get it because I've corresponded with them at some point, and they wound up in my address book. Theswe are mostly booksllers, librarians, and authors who have emailed me askign for help. If you've asked me for help, you're gonna get my newsletters.

Somehow, some people wind up on the list and I have no idea how it happened. Truly. I have a theory, though. It's possible, when I add emails to my newsletter list, that the program I use takes all the addresses associated with an email (meaning it takes everyone who has been cc'ed.)

JA Konrath said...

A side note: it's becoming pretty amusing to me to keep getting emails from people hoping they were one of the first ten to reply.

The first ten had replied within three minutes of me sending out the newseletter.

I've gotten hundreds since then.

Perhaps a speed contest isn't fair, but it did do two things:

1. Made a lot of people read the whole newsletter.
2. Made a lot of people respond.

You can't ask for more than that...

Unknown said...

I posted about your newsletter in my second blog Skyscraper Scribbler... But I'm sure you knew that already.

Naturally, I will also be trying my hand at the contest (though I've never quite written crime before).


s.w. vaughn said...

Happy signing tonight! :-)

And whattaya mean four times a year? You mean I've been busting my balls (sort of) trying to put out a twice-monthly missive and people are happy with every third month?

(Okay, so it's not many people, and I do cater mostly to writers: articles on craft, book reviews, markets, that sort of thing...)

I feel liberated. :-)

Jeri said...

Some brilliant ideas there. I especially like the one where you give a free book to someone who reviews one of your other books.

Got my chapbook the other day, BTW. Thanks!

Flip Dixon said...

Great newsletter. JA Konrath and Sandra Ruttan are my two favorite authors.

s.w. vaughn said...

JA, will you be posting your tour schedule when it's set? If you're anywhere near me I want to try and make it there. :-)

Anonymous said...

Mr. Konrath, thanks for this opportunity for new writers to get their name on the 'map' (the 500-word story contest). I just submitted one, so good luck to me, obviously. Well, fine, good luck to everyone -- there's luck to spare, I guess. Thanks again.

Rob Gregory Browne said...

I often wonder about the value of these newsletters or any newsletter, for that matter.

Maybe it's a personal thing, but I rarely read the ones I get. They've certainly never made me seek out or buy a book.

Truth is, of all the promotion work you've done, for me, the best promotion is your blog and website. It's what made me pull out the cash for book one.

Oh, and I... uh... we love you, too, Joe.