Joanne Phillips

A Writers Journey

Building (or shrinking) my mailing list

I recently dusted off my trusty mailing list and moved it from MailChimp to ConvertKit. I am loving ConvertKit (apart from a minor link glitch – learning moment!) and I have high hopes for growing my list with their lovely landing pages and forms.

What’s interesting is the unsubscribes! Now, I get a lot of email, and I also unsubscribe when I’m no longer interested. And of course, sometimes you just sign up to get a freebie and then you’re like ‘Huh? How come they keep emailing me!’

Photo by burak kostak on

I’m fine with it – really I am. I’m not broken-hearted. If readers sign up to get the free book but aren’t really interested in further books or what I have to say and share, then of course I don’t want them on my list. It costs money to keep subscribers on a list, so keeping it engaged is a key task.

So what I’ve decided to do now – just to keep my ego relatively safe – is focus on shrinking my list for a while. Yes, that’s right! I’m going to view each of those unsubscribes as a gift. I want to shrink my list down and down and down … and even if I end up with only 20 subscribers, if they are all people with a genuine interest in hearing about my books and engaging in topics around reading and stories, then I am happy to wave goodbye.

I do plan to do a bit of canvassing though, on social media, to find out how often people are happy to get emails land in their inboxes. All the experts say to send them weekly – and not to only email when you have news or want to sell a book. Which makes sense. But this is all new to me – or at least, it’s changed a lot during the years I allowed my list to gather dust.

What do you think? Weekly? Twice a month? More or less often? I supposes the answer is test, test, test, just like everything.

PS If you’d like to see what I’m sending to my subscribers you can sign up here.

New Flora Lively Mystery Out Now

I’m really excited to announce that Book 3 in the Flora Lively series of cozy mysteries is now available in ebook and paperback! Check out this gorgeous cover (and scroll down for the blurb and links if you’re interested).

I’m absolutely loving the purple vibe – thanks to Chris Howard for another excellent cover design. Chris is currently working on a complete overhaul of all my contemporary fiction, so watch out for that.

In The Sign of Seven, Flora has her most challenging mystery yet! The story is set in a spooky old museum of antiquities, and sees Flora and Marshall packing up a wacky collection of artefacts, ready to move them to the British Museum. But on the very first night … you guessed it! A dead body is discovered, and Flora is bang in the middle of yet another mystery.

Book Blurb:

When a priceless artefact goes missing, museum owner Jasmine White fears that an ancient curse has come to pass. Flora Lively is called upon to investigate, but her first ‘official’ case is set to be her most challenging yet …

Flora’s new job at the White & Co. Museum of Antiquities takes a deadly turn when a body is discovered in a packing crate that Flora herself sealed shut only hours earlier. Who is the murdered woman and how did she get there? As the stakes get higher, the threat moves closer to home. This time, Flora may be truly out of her depth.

The majestic lamassu

This is the lamassu, and you’ll get to know A LOT about these in the book! I’m fascinated with these creatures, and visited the huge statues on the British Museum as part of the research for The Sign of Seven.

As well as a twisty-turny mystery, the continued story of Flora and Marshall’s romance, and some very spooky museum exhibits, there is an additional – very personal – challenge for Flora. But you’ll have to read the book to find out more 🙂

So, if you’re interested, here is the Amazon link to download for Kindle or order in paperback:

Mission Statements – How I Rediscovered Mine and Why That Matters

Do you have a mission statement? If you work for an organisation, there is probably one embedded somewhere in the ethos and culture of your daily life – or possibly even printed in bold on a wall somewhere. Way back in 2012, I wrote my own – the aim was to focus my attention and realise the point of being a writer, for me.


Recently, writer and broadcaster David Berner got in touch with me and asked if he could use my mission statement as an exemplar in a piece he was writing. Obviously I was thrilled, not only that he thought my author statement so worthy, but also because it jolted me into going back and revisiting it myself!

Here is what I found:

I write stories to entertain and offer a temporary escape into another life. I create interesting characters who may linger with the reader long after she’s finished the story. I write about characters who learn to examine their lives – their motivations, their hopes and fears – and find the courage to change. I write about the important stuff, but with a light touch. I write about the four Ls: life, love, loss and lies – including the lies we tell ourselves. And yes, I want to change the world. A little tiny bit of it, anyway.

It’s fascinating to discover that, after 4 and a half years, my ‘mission’ has not changed one bit. Even though since the day I wrote that post I have changed direction many times, studied for a Masters, written in different genres, seen lots of changes in self-publishing and publishing in general, and been through many personal challenges that have changed me as a writer, I still have EXACTLY the same feeling about my writing practice and what I want it to achieve.

You can read David’s post about mission statements here – it’s well worth a look. What I’d love to know is, do you have one? Are you inspired to have a stab at writing one now? And if you did, would you print it out on a big sheet of paper and stick it to your wall, instead of leaving it to languish until some awesome person from the other side of the pond gets in touch and says, Hey …


Listen To My Indie Author Podcast – “Total Transparency Is My Style”

A few weeks ago I was interviewed by the awesome Paul Teague for my first ever podcast – and boy, it was fun! I was pretty nervous, but relieved that the recording wasn’t live. Paul has instructions on his website – including things you might not think about such as trying to make sure your environment is as noise-free as possible (phones ringing, kids screaming, barking dogs don’t do well on podcasts for obvious reasons) – and I had to get hold of some headphones and a microphone and log into Skype. No video, just audio. So I didn’t need to worry about how I looked!


The recording of the interview itself was stress-free – apart from an incident with a neighbour’s howling dog (!) which saw me dashing into another part of the house to find a quiet spot. And Paul is so incredibly professional, he put me at my ease immediately. I had no idea what we were going to talk about beforehand – Paul likes to avoid over-preparing to keep the content and the conversational flow nice and fresh. Chatting over Skype was fun and easy, and it wasn’t long before I was sharing … probably a little too much!

But hey, that’s what I do. Complete transparency has always been my default position, and while I completely support and understand other people’s desire to keep their mouths shut about such things as how many books they sell and how much they earn every year, I just open my big old mouth and it all comes gushing out. Along with some interesting thoughts about publishers, the world of writing courses, and writing in general.

If you’re ready to listen, click here. And please leave a comment below to let me know what you thought. Be kind!

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