Dear Authors, A Newsletter is Useful to Your Audience, a Platform for Your Work
In the transient times of the social media, it is more important than ever for authors to have a way to remain connected to their audience.
My own newsletter has been a lovely way to stay in touch with my readers who showed up for The Blue Bar in a big way: purchasing copies, sending shout-outs on social media, posting reviews on all kinds of platforms. My gazettes are mostly about book recommendations and author resources, as well as stories set in my writing universe.
Today, on Daily (w)rite, we have author Elle Hartford with tips on how to write an authentic and effective author newsletter. Elle adores cozy mysteries, fairy tales, and above all, learning new things. As author of The Alchemical Tales and Pomegranate Café Romance series, she seeks to inspire imagination and give readers a warm home-away-from-home.
Take it away, Elle!
An author newsletter can be a lot of work. But if you approach it with preparation and practical thinking, it can be highly rewarding. Let’s start with the basics and build up from there:
Author Newsletter Step One: Know Your Options
First, you’ll have to pick a service to host your newsletter: MailerLite, MailChimp, etc. Take your time picking a provider that will meet your needs (and grow with you). Check their pricing plans. Some will charge you once you hit a certain number of subscribers, some charge for extra capabilities and add-ons, some limit how many emails you can send a month. Each provider will have pros and cons, and the best one for you is a personal matter.
Author Newsletter Step Two: Know Your Purpose
A simple step, but crucial! Maybe you want more sales; maybe you want audience engagement; maybe you’re looking for ARC readers. Your purpose will affect everything from timing (how often you send out your newsletter) to newsletter look (what templates you use) and what newsletter builders you join (more on that later).
Author Newsletter Step Three: Looking Good
Even if we disregard the words, your newsletter says something. A long-form template with few pictures will give readers an old-fashioned blog vibe. An email full of travel photos and cat pictures will give a personal feeling. A polished template with your logo will look professional. Use your purpose to help you decide where to focus your energy. You may find it’s worth your time to learn basic graphic design (Canva is my go-to program). Making a logo, background, or header/footer images to load into your template will help your newsletter stand out.
Author Newsletter Step Four: The Cookie
You’ve probably heard this term before: a “cookie” is something free that you offer to people in exchange for their email addresses. You’ll find tons of advice about cookies, but once again, what makes a good one depends on your purpose . . . and genre. A short prequel story, a collection of character-favorite recipes, a set of “deleted scenes,” a self-contained epilogue–all could be good examples of a cookie. Whatever you choose, consider Bookfunnel, or a similar service, as a vehicle for delivering your cookie to readers without you doing the extra work.
Author Newsletter Step Five: Offer Value
My favorite newsletters are the ones that routinely offer me something. Not a sale: instead, useful advice, podcast or book recommendations that I trust, fun little riddles or puzzles. Offering a sale or book release news is technically asking your readers for something (their money). Having a stable section of your newsletter that gives back, regardless of your book news, elevates its value.
Author Newsletter Step Six : Write!
Most authors develop a pattern with their newsletter. My newsletter has sections: a “What’s New” bit with pictures, an “Events” column, a space for book recs or puzzles, and a blog round up. You could also include sneak peeks, interviews, polls, contests–the list goes on! Just remember your purpose. For example, if your goal is engagement, make sure your content supports that by including a poll or question readers can reply to.
A note about how often: be practical. If you are working several jobs or your priority is finishing the next novel, sending a newsletter every week might not work. However, if you only email people when you have a new book, you run two risks: your newsletter will always be asking people to spend money, and it will come so infrequently that people may forget about you (unless you’re very prolific!). There are other services, like Amazon, Bookbub, and Goodreads, which can be used for new release alerts.
Your newsletter is about you and your connection with your readers. Personally, I send mine out twice a month. Some newsletters I adore come only once a month, and that works because they are memorable (have great graphics) and valuable (free games, industry news, etc).
Author Newsletter Step Seven: If You Build It
The internet is vast. Your readers will need help to find you! The first way to reach out is to put your newsletter sign-up link on your website. We’re talking on the front page, or even in a pop-up form (most websites support this, and you can search for specific directions to set it up). Include the link everywhere: your social media, your email signature, the bottom of your blog posts, the back of your books.
The next step is to make friends. Join author groups in your genre. Some will run “newsletter builder” promotions, which are usually giveaways where the entrants submit their emails to multiple authors for a chance to win. In author groups you can also find folks to “swap” newsletters with you, which means they’ll promote your newsletter and cookie to their audience, and vice versa. If your “cookie” is on Bookfunnel, you can join free promotions there as well. Explore! New ways to find subscribers are devised all the time.
With these steps, you should have solid footing from which to learn and grow. Just keep sight of your purpose (and don’t be afraid to change it as needed). If you have clarity, then your readers will too!
Elle Hartford adores cozy mysteries, fairy tales, and above all, learning new things. She currently lives in New Jersey with a grumpy tortoise and a three-legged cat. Find more author news, tips, and free stories at ellehartford.com. And while you’re there, sign up for Elle’s newsletter to get bonus material, behind-the-scenes peeks, and terrible jokes!
Do you subscribe to author newsletters? Would you like to give a shout-out to some of your favorites? Authors, do you run a newsletter? Do you have questions or comments for Elle?
My crime novel, The Blue Bar is out this year with Thomas & Mercer. Add it to Goodreads or order it to make my day. Adding the book as a Want to Read, or following me on Amazon is on is a free way to support this author.
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These are wonderful tips for a newsletter. So much effort and research must go into sending useful information and links to the readers.
Elle did a wonderful job. I send out two gazettes, and yes they take a ton of time and effort.
Thank you so much for allowing me to share my hard-won lessons as a guest blogger! I’m always happy to find new ways to reach out and help others on this path.
Thanks for sharing your wisdom with us, Elle!
Thanks for the tips. I’m not a published author, but I’ll keep your tips in mind in case I need to start one.
Before publication is the best time to start, Natalie! I hope Elle’s tips come in handy.
I’m glad to help! You never know when a newsletter might come in handy. 😉
Great suggestions. I struggle with my newsletter and you’ve given me some good ideas.
Elle definitely gives some very practical suggestions. I follow a bunch of them, but I see room for improvement!
Thank you, and best of luck with the new ideas!
Thanks Damyanti 🌺
You’re very welcome!
That outlines the steps perfectly. Definitely need to know your purpose. I don’t have a newsletter but the IWSG does.
And the IWSG newsletter rocks!
Thanks! It really is amazing how much simpler everything is once you have a purpose in mind.