Robert Batten

Sci-Fi and Fantasy Author

Author: Robert Batten

Keeping your newsletter out of the spam folder

One of the most important marketing tools in an author's toolbox is their mailing list; it's old-school, but it works. However, with the enormous quantity of malicious spam flying around the internet, mail companies are constantly building new layers of defense which authors must successfully navigate lest they fall foul of spam filters. Like I have.

UPDATE at the end — it's working!

If you're a subscriber of my newsletter, please check your spam folder. It would be a huge help if you marked any of my emails there as "not spam". You can also add my newsletter email address to your contacts to white-list it.

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Win an Gift Card for providing feedback

Over the last year I've grown the number of subscribers to my author newsletter significantly and I think it's time to test it's content. What do you want to see in my newsletter? Answer the survey below to go in the draw to win one of two Gift Cards (USD$20).  Details of rules and information on the prizes are at the end of this post.


The survey has now closed — thank you everyone for your feedback. I've selected the two winners — congratulations Mahmoud and Diane! They have been sent their Amazon vouchers.

I've included some of the results of the survey below.

Information on my writing

Other information to include

Suggestion box

I also included an option to provide more freeform suggestions. Below I've summarized the key suggestions that cropped up:

  • Other writers would love to hear about your road to publication. The hard times, the good times. What worked for you. An advice column might be nice.
  • Try including freebies from other authors.
  • I suggest making a youtube channel.
  • Book summaries.

People also left some lovely feedback in this section, which I haven't included here as it feels a little self-congratulatory to post it, but rest assured if you left on of those comments it made me feel great. Thank you

Next steps

Based on this, I'll be focussing on publishing announcements, editing updates, and some background lore and science for my own writing. I'll include snippets and concept art as well, but this will be less frequent. For other information to include, I'll:

  • Keep up the book recommendations and experiment with presentation, etc. 
  • Include more regular giveaways. I have some plans for this, from larger newsletter builder giveaways to smaller giveaways focussed on specific books from my recommendations.
  • Sci-fi and fantasy news from around the web. I'll start to include more of this, but will work on doing so in a brief format with links to more detailed information so I avoid sending out war and peace.


For reference, I have left the rules here for the giveaway I ran as part of the survey.

  1. The draw is open to any individual person.
  2. The winner must provide their name and email address as part of the survey. These contact details will only be used to contact you if you win. You are not signing up to my newsletter by filling out this survey (but if you are not subscribed, you can do so here).
  3. The survey will be open until Friday, 14 December 2018. I may extend this by several days at my discretion (read, if I'm too busy on Friday to close out the form).
  4. Once the survey is closed, I will use a random number generator to select two entries from the survey responses that include a name and email. I will contact those people by email to confirm delivery arrangements for the gift cards. If they do not respond within three days, I will select a new winner.  This process will continue until two chosen winners respond and confirm delivery instructions.


There are two prizes which will each be awarded to a different winner. They are both eGift Cards to the value of USD$20. The winner must be able to claim eGift Cards from the (US) marketplace. The winner must be able to provide a valid email address where the gift card code can be sent.


The contact details section of this survey is optional. You may complete the survey without providing your name or email address and I will receive your feedback. However, if you do not provide your email address, you will not be eligible for the prize. Any names or email addresses submitted via this survey will ONLY be used to contact the winners. By filling out this survey, you are not subscribing to my email newsletter (but you can do so here).

I have a detailed Privacy Policy available here if you would like more information about how I handle personal information.

Note: the survey has been designed using Google Forms. When you fill out the survey, you are submitting the data to the Google Forms site, not my own. The data is captured in my personal Google Forms account and should not be available to any other user. Once the prizes have been awarded, I will delete all contact information submitted from the survey data and only keep the anonymous feedback results.

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Redshirts by John Scalzi

Ensign Andrew Dahl has just been assigned to the Universal Union Capital Ship Intrepid, flagship of the Universal Union since the year 2456. It’s a prestige posting, and Andrew is thrilled all the more to be assigned to the ship’s Xenobiology laboratory.

Life couldn’t be better…until Andrew begins to pick up on the fact that:

1. Every Away Mission involves some kind of lethal confrontation with alien forces.
2. The ship’s captain, its chief science officer, and the handsome Lieutenant Kerensky always survive these confrontations.  
3. At least one low-ranked crew member is, sadly, always killed.

Not surprisingly, a great deal of energy below decks is expended on avoiding, at all costs, being assigned to an Away Mission. Then Andrew stumbles on information that completely transforms his and his colleagues’ understanding of what the starship Intrepid really is…and offers them a crazy, high-risk chance to save their own lives.

I listened to the audible rendition of this novel, which is narrated by Will Wheaton. I mean, how could I not? It’s a comedic spoof of Star Trek narrated by Will Wheaton. It lived up to my expectations.

Redshirts is a send up of the sci-fi trope regarding crew members in red shirts dying on away missions (which originated with Star Trek). Whenever an adventure required someone to die for dramatic tension, you could be guaranteed an inconsequential character in a red shirt with minimal backstory would bite the bullet. In Redshirts, Scalzi digs into what might happen if the hapless souls became aware of their precarious existence. It’s a great concept and sets up some fantastic hijinks. I took a little longer to settle into this story, as I adjusted to the tack it was taking (after all, the entire point of this novel is poking fun at cliches), but I soon found myself absorbed with the characters and the mystery of, “What the hell is going on with the Intrepid?”

You’ll like this if…

If you love classic sci-fi like Star Trek and don’t mind making fun of it a little, or if you’re a fan of other send-ups like Galaxy Quest, then you should enjoy this novel.

Finding Redshirts

You can find Redshirts on Goodreads here, or pick up a copy on Amazon here. If you want the Will Wheaton audible version, that's over here.

If you liked this recommendation…

Why not check out my others? Each is for a book I enjoyed and would happily recommend to a friend.

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Leviathan Wakes by James SA Corey

I don't really do reviews here, but I do write recommendations for books I love. Enter Leviathan Wakes by James SA Corey.

My introduction to this world was The Expanse TV series. I hadn’t heard of the books before then, but thought the show looked cool from the previews and jumped in as soon as it came out. I wasn’t disappointed. The show quickly became one of my favorite sci-fi series and I knew I would need to read the books. I've now read the first installment and am hooked.

"Humanity has colonised the solar system - Mars, the Moon, the Asteroid Belt and beyond - but the stars are still out of our reach."

Leviathan Wakes is the first book in the Expanse series, written by a duo under the pen name James S.A. Corey. The first thing that jumped out at me as I dove into its pages was the science. This is HARD sci-fi in the best way. I mean, check out this post on the mechanics of railguns in space. Couple that attention to detail with an epic plot and engaging, broken, beautiful characters, and you have an amazing novel on your hands. I devoured this book and have high hopes for the rest of the series.

"Jim Holden is XO of an ice miner making runs from the rings of Saturn to the mining stations of the Belt. When he and his crew stumble upon a derelict ship, the Scopuli, they find themselves in possession of a secret they never wanted. A secret that someone is willing to kill for - and kill on a scale unfathomable to Jim and his crew. War is brewing in the system unless he can find out who left the ship and why.

Detective Miller is looking for a girl. One girl in a system of billions, but her parents have money and money talks. When the trail leads him to the Scopuli and rebel sympathizer Holden, he realizes that this girl may be the key to everything.

Holden and Miller must thread the needle between the Earth government, the Outer Planet revolutionaries, and secretive corporations - and the odds are against them. But out in the Belt, the rules are different, and one small ship can change the fate of the universe."

Finding the book

You can read about Leviathan Wakes on Goodreads here, or pick up a copy from Amazon here.

While you're here...

Like my taste in books? Check out my other recommendations. I add to the collection regularly.

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Asimov Quote on Writing

"If my doctor told me I had only six minutes to live, I wouldn't brood. I'd type a little faster." Isaac Asimov, Life Magazine (1984).

Like quotes?

You can find more in my quotes section here.

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LOTR on Mice

Have you ever wanted to see Lord of the Rings, but with Mice? Of course, you have! Some talented peeps have now made it for us and it's glorious.

Sourced from YouTube here.

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