Newsletter basics for authors entail deciding how often to send, what content to feature, which service to use, as well as the effectiveness of the letter’s overall look. Plus, it’s of utmost importance to ensure the ethical building of your email list.
Newsletter Basics for Authors
The purpose of an author newsletter is to deliver news to your fanbase. It should work in tandem with the content offered on your author blog if you maintain one as part of your author website. If you’re struggling with what to blog about as an author and haven’t set up a newsletter yet, focus on finding a groove for your blog. Build your platform in the continual search of finding 1,000 true fans. Once closer to releasing a new title, then focus on sending out compelling newsletters.
What service to use?
Using regular email to send an announcement is less than ideal because no analytic reports are available to indicate how many opens and clicks the email receives. Not to mention, we’ve all received those types of emails where the sender neglected neglected to blind copy (bcc) the email addresses of everyone else. Hands down, email is the best way of directly reaching readers. Use that power wisely.
Any newsletter email service comes with a learning curve. I’ve been using MailChimp for a few years for my editor newsletters and am quite pleased by its capabilities. It’s free up to the first 2,000 subscribers acquired. Such a service allows for a seamless process for collecting email addresses and providing a newsletter archive. Even though a mailing address is required, it’s okay to use “general delivery.” Other services include AWeber, Constant Contact, and TinyLetter to name a few.
Building Your Email List
An email list is something readers opt-in for. A huge pet peeve of mine is checking my email only to see I’ve been added to yet another mailing list because I left a blog comment. Connecting with someone on social media or sharing email communication in the past does not make it okay to manually add anyone to your mailing list. Anti-spam laws dictate letting the reader make that choice. I also find it a bit shady when blog commenting systems contain a pre-checked box that will then add the commenter’s email to the blogger’s mailing list. It’s always better to let potential fans make the choice to check that box.
You’ll want to create an inviting sign-up form that complements your website and blog’s theme. After the opt-in form is created, provide readers with multiple ways to access the form. A sidebar widget is a must, and services like MailChimp provide options for generating one. If you use a WordPress.org site, consider using a plug-in such as WordPress Notification Bar to place a sign-up banner at the top or bottom of your site, as well as a pop-up form such as MailMunch to encourage more readers to subscribe to blog posts and newsletters. Various sign-up forms can also be created with MailChimp.
How Often to Send a Newsletter
The minimum number of times an author newsletter should go out is quarterly. Pick a schedule and stick with it, making sure the newsletter release will coincide with new releases. Every six to eight weeks might also be a doable schedule. Once a month is probably as frequent as a newsletter should be sent, especially if are also publishing blog posts. Don’t succumb to content fatigue, and don’t worry too much about readers forgetting who you are if you only send quarterly newsletters. Subscriber lists fluctuate. Publish as often as you can handle while also prioritizing the writing of the next book.
What to Include in a Newsletter
You can include items of interest to readers of your books. Nobody will ever complain about getting a short announcement.
- Announce a new release. Potentially include the blurb and/or an excerpt.
- Provide details on free and discounted promotions. Always include a link.
- Highlight speaking engagements, awards, and other recognition bestowed upon you.
- Link to author interviews and guest posts as well as posts (past or present) from your blog.
- Share your passions. What do readers most often ask you about? What research are you engaged in? Are you involved in any literacy programs? Does any of your travel relate to your writing? What fellow authors could you feature? The sky really is the limit.
The Newsletter’s Overall Look
Less is definitely more when it comes to author newsletter content. Pick a simple template for of one or two columns with fewer rather than more content boxes you will have to fuss over. Use plenty of images and make the newsletter skimmable. Every newsletter should contain a unique and compelling subject line. Always ensure your call to action is clear.
What newsletters do you enjoy receiving? Do you have any advice or pet peeves when it comes to author newsletter basics?
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Please share responsibly. Jeri Walker, 2016.