Like a chimp in a china shop

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So in my quest to actually get my books published and introduced to the world this week, I endeavored to put together an email, announcing the same.

If you’re like me, with little to no design experience or savvy you’re probably smart to set up one of those email services. They have templates with simple drag and drop functions and/or themes so it’s just a matter of putting your marketing email together and moving on to the next step in your marketing strat.

And that’s just what I did. I set up a Mail Chimp account and played around with a few elements and figured it’d be a slam dunk. Easy-peasy. I had a nifty little promo piece I was going to slide in there with a little copy and that would be it. Bada-boom,bada-bing, right?

Not so much. The ‘simple’ drag and drop method of building an email template turned out to be not so simple after all. I was dragging but the components weren’t dropping. Or they were dropping in the wrong place. And I couldn’t get my promo piece to look right. And the pictures of the books had to be resized but they looked all wrong.

So I scratched my original concept and went with one of their ‘themes.’ Piece of cake, right? Not for me. The templates are comprised of a text blocks, images, and elements with certain specs. If your text and images don’t fit, you have to cut, resize, drag, and pray it’ll work. In my case – it didn’t. Certain things just didn’t want to drop or drag where I wanted them to be, so in frustration I’d delete the element. But then it would leave a white space that I simply couldn’t get rid of no matter what I did. I think I tried every theme and template they had but nothing came out right.

I’d also forwarded a few of the test emails to a couple of friends for feedback. One of my friends couldn’t see the images and had just big gaping blank spaces to look at.

After eight hours of fiddling with emails and sending test emails to myself to see how my emails looked (dreadful) I was about as coherent as a monkey who’d over indulged in banana brandy and a box of chocolates.

But I wasn’t willing to give up because I have many other things to do and wouldn’t have time to deal with it later. As a last ditch attempt I went with a simple text template and that was better. Still there was work to be done.
So this morning, I figured it out and I think I have a simple, easy to read email that looks pretty good. Well…okay, anyway.

The take-aways

If you’re like me and really don’t know or understand design, even the simple drag and drop method can be daunting and yield crappy results. And you can spend hours driving yourself mad and still not get the results you want. What worked for me was:

  • Use the simple text template. You can still add images, text blocks, social sharing buttons, etc. But since it’s very bare bones you won’t have to worry about getting rid of or reordering things that exist in a theme or dealing with a predetermined layout.
  • Resize you images in another program. If you don’t have the software on your own computer, there are a couple of online sites where you can effectively resize images that look good. Pxlr and iPiccy were the two that worked best for me.
  • Use no more than three images. Part of my problem was that I was trying to put too many images in one little email. The result was a cluttered mess. When I let go of the idea of having to use my existing promo piece and just used the cover images for the books, the email instantly looked cleaner and more focused. So pick the three best images you have or want to use and save the other images for other venues.
  • Design your layout before you start working on it. I found that simply opening a Word Doc and rearranging the text, headlines and images until I found the layout I liked made it much easier to put the actual email template together. I just kept it open and referred to it as I was building the email.
  • Less is more. When you’re anticipating releasing a book or a product that you’ve spent a long time working on, it’s natural to want to make a big splash. But let’s be real. We all get a bazillion emails a day, most of which is some type of advertising or another. So don’t turn your email into a web page. Just give them the basics – some nice images, a couple of snappy headlines, good interest-peaking text, and how they can get what you’re offering.

How about you? Have any tips on putting together a nice email to promote your book? Ever sent one that was a disaster? What happened? Tell us in the comments.

Annie

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4 thoughts on “Like a chimp in a china shop

  1. Oh, you poor thing, Annie! I have to admit, I don’t know much about these things either. I had a PR lady when my book came out, so this part of the marketing campaign didn’t fall on me. But it sounds really complicated! Good on you for soldiering on and not giving up on the task! I’m sure the result was awesome – you’re just the type of person who wouldn’t settle for anything less! 🙂 Happy Monday ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Ramona,
      I sure could’ve used your sympathy late on Saturday night – luckily I stopped short of actually pulling my hair out. How nice to have a PR lady. I want one of those. Someday…

      I think my lack of knowledge and understanding made it more complicated than it needed to be. it really is simple if you start at simple – which I didn’t – the final template that I came up with only took about an hour or so, even with tweaks and refinements. It’s the 15 previous attempts that took the time. 😀

      I don’t know if it’s awesome but I think it’s a clean direct message about the books that I hope will create some interest.

      Thanks,
      Annie

      Like

  2. You have made me realize what my mantra has been all this time. Just slow down and keep it simple, Elva. I don’t have to produce the “BOMB!” book, and most likely won’t. But I have done it. It’s readable, interesting and I even have something on paper as to how I want the cover to look. Very simple. Thanks Writer Chick.

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