I spent the past few days writing a short story to send out as a mailing list subscription bonus. I’ve been reading books and blogs about marketing in my spare time–not to my delight, but if I’m spending money on my business, I’m going to do my best to make it work and that means learning from other people, even if I eye most marketing info quite skeptically. Still, everyone in indie publishing who’s writing about marketing these days writes about the power of a good mailing list. So, okay, mailing list it is. When I finished A Gift of Time, I had nine subscribers to my mailing list.

In March, I put a link to the mailing list in the back of all my books, added a sign-up form to the front page of my blog (that was about two days ago and obviously, is my personal blog, not this writing blog) and–this week–wrote a short story to send to my mailing list subscribers as their subscription bonus. The last part was definitely my favorite. It was fun to ask people what they were interested in reading. I had lots of ideas, so I posted them on my blog and let the readers who responded (five or six of them, I think) make the call. They chose Maggie coming to Tassamara.

I was delighted.

Before I started writing original fiction, I was writing fanfiction for the television show, Eureka. When Eureka broke my heart and I decided to write in my own world, I looked at what had driven me to fall in love with Eureka (a sense of community, a place where everyone is accepted for who they are) and took that for my original world, but turned everything else upside down. Eureka was set in Oregon, so I moved my small town across the country and to the south, to Florida. Eureka’s all about brilliant scientists doing complicated science, so I wrote about psychics and auras and the unreal world. Eureka’s secret government organization works for the department of defense; I wrote about a private company working for themselves and their own satisfaction. Eureka is a collection of isolated individuals brought together by the town; I built my world around a family with strong bonds to one another who are the town. Lots of differences. But one thing I wanted to keep was the diner. Every small town needs a quirky diner.

So I made my diner’s cook different. Unlike Vincent, the cook in Eureka who is ever-present, my cook never says a word and is never seen, over the course of three books and one short story. She’s important to the stories–her name comes up repeatedly and in at least one case, her actions are pivotal to the story–but she’s invisible.

And readers liked her anyway, enough to want to know more.

It pleased me so much. πŸ™‚

So this week I wrote a fun little story that brought her to Tassamara and introduced her to Max Latimer. Now, of course, I want to write the rest of her story, but it’s not going to happen for ages and ages. I’ve got too much more to do before I can start, including diving into revisions on A Lonely Magic.

And my mailing list is now up to 40 subscribers, including 16 since the beginning of the month.