Sheena talks to author Anne Hagan who recently took over running My LesFic and enlisted Erin Hodges to help. Together they are planning some big things that will be great for both authors and readers.
Listen to this episode here
In this episode
- How Anne ended up taking over My LesFic from Harper and Caroline
- What’s new and coming up on the service
- What the service actually is and why both authors and readers love it
Transcript for Today’s Show
Please note this transcript has not been edited and is automatically generated meaning certain words will be incorrect.
hi I’m Sheena and you’re listening to the right stuff today I’m joined by the famous author and hagun and the feminist Erin Hodges Erin what am i titling you as these days you’re a woman of many talents I don’t know just just the person I guess I don’t have a specific title she got I met Erin as a virtual assistant and authors virtual assistant and she is awesome at that and that’s the reason I that I reached out to her first or into this adventure of mine my Las Vegas yeah said that Erin’s got the VA thing going but she’s also a bit of an entrepreneur so I’m sure that when you saw this opportunity here and you took it with both hands because this is a fabulous opportunity but before we get into that let’s take two steps backwards and talk about what we’re talking about in this podcast today is an and Erin are taking over my list fake from hoppin Caroline and you guys are doing some really cool stuff with it and how did this opportunity end up in your lap well it was one of those deals where you know when opportunity knocks you answer the door I actually had submitted my book still city confidential for an ad in my last egg and they didn’t have space for me at the time that I wanted it in July but Caroline came back to me and said we should be able to run it very beginning of August would that be okay I said that would be fine well when she emailed me late in July and said okay we’re going to be able to lend you a book and oh by the way it’s going to be our last newsletter she said we just can’t can’t do it anymore we just don’t have the time to continue with it and I kind of thought about that as a huge loss to the women loving women fiction loving community and I went back to her and I said what you and Harper consider letting me take it over and she said well we hadn’t really thought about that she said let me talk to Harper well well she went and talked to her or I went and talked to Erin I think I hear that to take this over would require quite a bit of time and not something that I buy myself to do but I knew that a lot of the things that have to be done with it we’re right up and out and so you know like contacted Erin and she jumped in with OC I don’t know what her thought process was there and all of that but when when Caroline came back to being said Harper’s okay with this idea how do you propose we do it I said well first of all I need to let you know that it’s not just going to be me it’s going to be me and Erin all day no air and they were thrilled with that idea so they took off and ran with it a month later you here we are you know we’re a few weeks into our our first newsletters and it’s rolling along so even from your side what happened well and contacted me and sucked me in and and it was a no-brainer really because it’s such a good service and I’d never really thought about how good the services from the author’s perspective only from the readers perspective and so when Anne pointed out the benefits to the author’s as well it was an absolute no-brainer to take it on because the you know the women loving women fiction or lesbian fiction or whatever you want to term it the the number of authors that struggle to get any traction and their marketing it’s anything that we can do as as readers and as supporters to help with their is as something we should be doing I think um and it’s an exciting opportunity because there’s lots of room to you know develop and change and move things are and try different things and I’m all about that stuff so yeah it’s going pretty well so far if I understand correctly the my last week model was originally based on the the bookbub model so it’s discounted books that go out to a database who has said that they are interested in these types of books right that’s correct the book bub for listeners that aren’t familiar is a an email newsletter that is massive and they take their audience and they segment them by types of books that they like to read but they love all LGBT books together or in one category so that newsletter comes out daily but one day most days you’ll get a male-male book some days you’ll get a less thick book or bisexual book that faces focuses on two women but you know it’s it’s not broken down my low spec was the first email newsletter and still one of the predominant ones where it’s completely focused on female female relationships in discount books to to some degree yes Harper and Caroline over time started to do feature new releases as well this is an advertising vehicle to get mostly discount books out there to the readers absolutely yeah and I think there’s definitely a space bridge what do you say I take it you guys have taken over there’s a 6.2 base and your goal I imagine would be now to grow that daughter base even bigger that’s correct and we’re already working on that we’ve run it some just since we took it over just by being active on social media when when they started they were very active but every time as Harper got more prolific and Caroline had to do more and more to promote Harper’s business of being an author they kind of step back for really promoting Milan spec just aired and I getting out there and talking about it and that sort of thing has helped we’ve added 80 plus people in a couple weeks to the newsletter already you know we started to be more present on Facebook they didn’t even have a Twitter account we started that you know and and we’ve gotten into some other things too you know I started a Pinterest for it Erin is pushing me hard and to get into Instagram and I’m doing Instagram right now for me not for my low spec but you know that will naturally evolve out of that you know there’s there’s a lot of things that we can do to start to promote it that don’t cost us anything but on time and that’s something that that unfortunately they were in short supply and they just didn’t have a lot of time to do that yeah okay so when you take over a business like this right you must have spotted some gaps apart from the time thing and you really mentioned the social media aspect of it but you must have spotted some other gaps in the business that wind actually this will pair nicely if we also do this so what cool upcoming features can we expect from you guys well Erin’s veteran talking about the gaps that we saw you know as far as all the behind the scenes stuff and all that you know yes her and I have been pushing ideas back and forth and I let her addresses a little bit but audiobooks is one theme weeks like we’re doing but by the time this airs we will have already done a halloween-themed week and that sort of thing but I like a lot Erin dive in a little bit and go to some the things that they’re doing yeah I mean I don’t I don’t think there’s intentional gaps in the in the process and in the in the way that things were being done but the feedback that we’ve sought from the community the feedback that we’ve had is that there’s a lot of a lot of people for example in the Australia and New Zealand markets that get frustrated because the deals don’t necessarily apply to them and so you know one of the benefits of using email marketing platforms is that you can segment your your list into any number of different spaces and groups and we’ll probably look at some point to segment the groups that fall outside of the dot-com region and perhaps give them their own newsletters or you know give them a a newsletter that’s specific to the deals in their space rather than the deals that are just it’s kind of like throwing them a bone and saying guess what like there’s all these deals on but you can’t have any of them we don’t want to do that we want to we want them to feel like there’s value in it otherwise they’re not going to open it and then everybody misses out not just the the reader but the author as well so so that’s probably one of the areas that we’re going to look at quite closely is just doing some some work around making sure that it has the highest possible value for everyone concerned beyond there we’ve talked about audiobooks like answered and we’ve done a little bit of tweaking around the the new release thing we’ve talked about sponsorship opportunities and things like that and just kind of trying to grow it grow out our audience and grow our space but also really use it as a vehicle to promote the the less effects pace as well and and see what we can do there to trim you know broaden the audience there and and really add values so if anyone’s got any ideas feel free to reach out I think arrogance tired to see it might my things pop up on facebook Messenger no what’s she coming up with now one of the things that we really need to do Harper and Caroline made the list very simple you could get on the list with just an email address so most of the audience was not identified by name and many people’s email addresses that they use for something like that are very cryptic or very general and we can’t even identify who all the authors are that are on the list yet so we eventually want to reach out to everybody and say hey if you’re an author identify yourself that way we can we can reach out to them separately sometimes and and offer them special promotion special deals and that sort of thing right now they don’t have that capability yeah I’m tagging H or thinit that comes through with a an advertisement at the moment so you know I’m capturing the ones that are already advertising but those that have subscribed in heaven advertised since it’s changed over will not be on that list so yeah that’s definitely something that we need to to look at um and try and work out how we can you know do things a little bit more streamlined – rather than taking loads of time to try and track people down and right now we’re reaching out on social media that’s that’s not ideal to try and try and track people down because we just don’t have any way of knowing is this person an author and I’ll give you a good for example I’m on the list under a personal email address probably Erin doesn’t even thank you for being an awesome list man supporting to the channel that brings you all the podcasts you want to hear Erin listening to talked find more podcasts on the lesbian talk show com okay so how often are you sitting out emails at this point it’s still a weekly service at this point plus any specials that we’ve got so the Halloween special that will have gone out by the time this comes out as going out separately to the weekly deals for that week yeah it’s still a weekly service it goes out on a Friday at this point and we tend to see that people either open them quite quickly or open them on a Monday so um you know it’s it’s over that sort of weekend space that that people seem to get in there and knows a whole lot more about that though she follows it follows the tricks or the opens and the clicks in there and then since been email missus just going this is what’s her thing I’m like great I don’t need to look thank you she’s the whole back-end operation and I’m the one that analyzes everything but what we’re finding is because our subscribers are around the world obviously no matter what time we send it there’s going to be a lot of people in bed and a lot of people that are already in there Saturday morning airing for example is in her Saturday when she’s sending this out you know or she’s on her way to bed on her Friday night and she’s sending it for me to go out Friday morning here in the US so you know we don’t get all of our opens right on Friday what I tend to do is watch and see how well is it going and if by Sunday afternoon the last couple weeks I don’t see the open rate that I would like to see I will resend it to everybody that didn’t poop and that seems to be working pretty well and get a second bounce of people that that you know either see it again or they’re actually seeing it for the first time they didn’t even see it on Friday because they were too busy with their weekend plans and what-have-you you know we’re going to start conveying this information to the authors as we tweak it some more and let them know that hey it might not be a bad idea to keep fields available through the weekend or even through Monday and catch all of those additional people that don’t open until Sunday evening on Monday sometime right because it’s a limited time deal so it tends to be in secret it tends to be like a 24-hour type thing to try and encourage people to do it right now bye-bye-bye but you’re right if it goes out on a Friday and there are a new opening on Monday then they kind of go well this is pointless well and I had that conversation with Caroline about why they chose Friday and they did their research and Friday is a little open day for emails but it’s it’s the highest click bang for eveness so people that do open it do tend to click on things because it’s an escape from work and that sort of thing they go out and shop unfortunately it’s just not a very high open rather than change the day maybe we just resend to the people that didn’t open and give them another opportunity yeah they’re the the other problem that we’ve had already I think is that it’s inconsistent when it goes out for each time zone and one of the joys of working in an email marketing platform is that you can like I say that collects where they’ve opened it from so we can set it up to send it say 9 a.m. and whatever time zone they’re in and so as long as I have it set up on time by sort of my Thursday it can go out to everybody on on Friday at 9 a.m. for example in their own time zone so at the moment there’s a whole pile of people who are receiving this email at times that are inconvenient like the middle of the night or really late at night or really early in the morning and it just gets shelved and so hopefully by doing that and by being more consistent and saying hey it’s gonna come in at 10 o’clock every Friday hopefully they’re like right well I’m gonna go and grab my coffee and then I’m gonna check it out you know and it becomes a little bit more of a routine for them um and that increases the open rates generally a little bit too so yeah there’s lots of lots of analysis and lots of things to be done and lots of fun stuff and to look at and then tell me what to do so it’s good I completely believe that n is the one with the stats and stuff I did a mini podcast with her where she was talking about Amazon AdWords for well M is an add keywords rather for for authors so if you haven’t checked that out I’ll add a link to the show notes it was a fantastic two part series so jam-packed full of information your brain might actually explode okay so let’s talk about our readers so why would readers when I come and subscribe to this newsletter like give us the the innovative pitch why wouldn’t they I mean I mean they’re getting a weekly email that says these are the books that are in the lesbian fiction genre that are on sale this week yeah have you know the male male stuff and within that it’s not just all romance or not just they don’t know what they’re gonna find until they open it could be anything yeah yeah yeah and it at this point we’ve had i think häôs smallest newsletter was four books but we’re we’re hopeful that you know that we can maintain sort of five or six a week maybe more and you know like if you get an email I think this week’s email has like this week that’s just passed had a romance and erotic romance a thriller and then another romance or a historical fiction yeah like the you know there’s there’s lots of different types of books and there’s lots of authors that you wouldn’t normally come across and that’s the beauty of it I think for me is that it exposes the audience to a brand new set of authors it’s not just big names that are advertising it’s people that I’ve never heard of and that’s exciting to be able to say to people hey here’s an author you’ve never heard of with a book that you’ve never seen before and it’s only gonna cost you two dollars 99 this week like that’s a no brainer you should try it so that’s the exciting thing for me as there we’re able to open the market up to expose these there’s authors who are out there doing the hard yards writing books and and trying to find their their audience and what we have that audience captive so why not use it right what sort of sale prices are you looking at what’s the the range we asked authors to at least drop the price of a book fifty percent we have noticed for using the newsletter that less fake buyers are in this pickle will say a book buyer that wants to see something $2.99 and under books tend to sell really well it’s a 99 cents and up to $2.99 but authors do very well in the $4.99 range you know we still see quite a few sales even in that range because less picked buyers by and large are used to buying from our publishers where a book might be 799 or 999 for you some of them are pushing over $10 no yes they are yeah and and that’s one of the things that we want to try and do and with the Halloween edition that we will have done by the time this airs we have done that we had an offer from sapphire and an author from affinity affinity rainbow press actually included books in there so we’re starting to get some of the smaller publishers involved and getting them to discount their books and the eventual goal is to get some of our bigger publishers involved too and get them to offer books at a discount in the newsletter even a couple dollars their buyers but but it’s been a great vehicle for Indies and the very small presses and some of our medium presses which which you know the main mainstream fiction would consider very small presses but yeah we’re we’re we’re trying to reach out to everybody and say you know this is out here we’ve already got this mailing list of these people that want these books will come and join us yeah I think that’s why it was so important and when Caroline said that um they were thinking about you know closing things down that was what really well that was what she approached me with anyway was that just how important it is for those people that are out there doing it without a big publisher behind them I’m trying to to get their book out there and trying to be seen and um you know it had been successful for an as an author and and it was something that she knew others had had success with so um it’s it’s really it’s an exciting thing to be part of because I think it does really promote the people out there who are writing quality books and just are finding it hard to get the traction in a market where if your scene your scene and if you’re not you don’t exist so yeah it’s very cool people can just buy into it they don’t have to be jumped through that many hoops or anything like with the review sites it’s difficult for people to get reviewed because we just get so many requests that we just can’t do everyone you know with you guys they can literally come and say all right I went to slots so it’s like marketing yeah I mean there’s criteria that are applied and like I said we do cap each week so if we had ten in one particular week we would have to turn people away and we’ve had a couple of people who have applied and we’ve said look we can’t run that you know like they’ve got a full-price new release for example but we’ve already got one in the newsletter and so we’ve had to save them look I’m sorry but can you do it next week and they usually find with that so you know it’s it is a matter of applying and seeing what’s going on but at the same time we do have some criteria and yeah you know we’ll it will apply those and but you know I mean we’re people that like to read as well so we want there’s authors to do well and so if there’s a way for us to get them in there and to help promote them then that’s what we’ll do absolutely all right so if people want to find you guys where did it go milos effect calm yeah that’s yes bottom line go to my let’s be calm the front page is the sign up to the newsletter put your email address in and you’re in you’ll start getting it on Fridays and then for authors there’s a tab on the website where they can go and they can find out everything about how to submit to us what our criteria is the pricing that they need and so yeah there’s all the social information the Facebook the Twitter all of that sort of stuff is on the website as well but pretty much if you go to if you go to Facebook or Twitter and search from my less fake you’ll find and behind-the-scenes doing something yeah so it’s you know it’s all pretty straightforward just remember the name of the service and you’ll be fine great is anything else you guys wanted no yeah just thanks thanks for the opportunity to check Sheena and tear you know to put the word out there it’s um it’s very cool it what you do is some you know something that you can collaborate with all these people doing these things so thank you absolutely you get my thanks and my appreciation every time we do something like this I really really received right back at you in I think we need more more of us in the sick that we need more people to be to be spreading the word and trying to grow the sector frankly absolutely collective action that’s the way to go this has been the right stuff I’m Sheena you can find more information on the Lisbon talk show comm or find links to our guests in the show notes if you enjoy what we do consider becoming a patron at patreon.com slash the lesbian talk show