There’s nothing so humbling for a writer than staring at a blank screen with no idea what to write. Deciding what to include in your newsletter can intimidate an author, even when you know it should cover topics related to your books and writing. I understand how important and how hard it is to connect with your readers. That’s why I put together this blog series on creating an awesome author newsletter.
Your Author Newsletter Content
More than anything, your subscribers want to know when you will publish another book they can read. Increase their anticipation. Announce your upcoming book in advance, give details about your research trip, describe where you wrote the story, give funny or interesting side stories related to your life as an author of this book, treat readers to an exclusive sneak peek at the cover, show them your book video. Each time you mention your upcoming release, your readers savor rather than resent the wait.
Your Appearance Schedule
Do you plan to participate in a book fair, sign copies of your books at an event, speak on a topic of interest to your readers? Include advance details of your appearances and include pictures and brief descriptions afterwards. Did something unusual happen on the way home? Write about it as part of your blog and include a link in your newsletter, as I did after becoming hopelessly lost in the woods on my way home from a book festival. Or you could opt to share your experience only with your subscribers.
Links to Author Interviews Featuring You and Your Guest Posts
Give your readers links to author interviews that feature you or to guest posts pertaining to your books and to you as an author. Check for their comments and be sure to reply. This deepens their commitment to you, and allowing your avid fans to share their enthusiasm for your writing might lead to book sales.
Some writers successfully cross-promote by interviewing other authors or publishing their guest posts. The idea is that when you feature other authors at your website, their readers follow, leading to possible book sales and new subscribers. I tried this myself but did not find that it produced much of either. I stopped using it after reading an article from a literary agent in which she warned authors not to create unnecessary competition for their books. I now cross-promote on social media instead of at my website.
Visit the websites of major authors and it’s immediately clear whose books they support. There are branding reasons for this, besides sales considerations. In my opinion, focusing your website and author newsletter on your own books displays self-confidence. It says to readers that you believe your books are worthy to stand alone.
Any blog at your author website should pertain to your books and life as an author. If not, it will attract an audience misaligned with who you are and what you write, and that doesn’t produce a lot of sales. Realizing you’ve built the wrong thing is heartbreaking, but throwing more time at the problem is wasted effort.
When your author blog supports your books, it serves as an introduction to you and lures readers to sign up for your newsletter. Blog posts drive traffic to your website from your social followings and those of people who share them. Visitors can also find you through internet search engines. A blog provides a valuable way to connect with readers. Including blog post lead-ins and links in your newsletter adds value for newsletter subscribers who may not want to hear from you as frequently as blog subscribers, They can follow links from your author newsletter to blog posts that interest them without having each and every post you send. This improves your engagement with your newsletter subscribers.
Provide additional information about the characters, settings, and topics in your books. This can take many forms. You could offer tongue-in-cheek interviews with fictional characters by their author. Invite a character from one of your books to write a guest post about a theme in your book or the experience of living in its pages.
What additional information can you give readers from your research? Did you include recipes in the book? If so, you could whip one up, photograph the results, and post the recipe for those who have read the story (or want to) to enjoy. I published a candy cane steamer recipe for my Christmas novella, All I Want for Christmas, and linked to the post from my newsletter. Does your book cover a deep topic? Include a discussion question and/or give your own thoughts on the subject. Explain the lessons that writing your book taught you. Give a line from your book and explain why it’s a favorite. Are you in love with your hero? Confess and tell why.
A Book Review
Include a line from a review of your book or the entire review (with appropriate permission). Alternatively, describe a book you admire and tell how it compares to or contrasts with your own writing. Mention the books and authors that influence your own writing. When you share books by other authors with your readers, its a good idea for branding purposes to describe how they relate to your own books. This makes the topic of your website clear to readers, allowing no room for confusion.
Share your joy with readers. The anniversary you came up with your book’s premise, its publication date, or signing a brand new contract are all causes for celebration. Depending on your brand and comfort level, you could also reveal moments that tapped other emotions, like sorrow or fear. Allowing readers to see your vulnerabilities can endear you to them. Be careful though. Such revelations should pertain in some way to your writing or to life as an author.
Special Prices, Giveaways, Contests, or Other Promotions
Inform readers who sign up for your list that they should expect occasional offers. Most people who sign up for an author’s email list expect (and may welcome) your promotional efforts. Take care not to abuse this privilege or you’ll annoy and possibly lose your hard-won subscribers,
Don’t miss the opportunity to send holiday salutations to your readers. You’ll earn bonus in good will if you don’t pitch your book in the same email.
Your Book Covers
Include covers of your books with a one-sentence tagline and purchase links. It often takes repeated exposure for subscribers to buy your books. When the inclination, time, and money all line up, making the purchase should be simple for readers.
Final Thoughts from Janalyn
Make your newsletter easy to produce by including set sections and using a template provided by an email-list management provider like MailChimp (the one I use). Mailchimp offers a generous free plan, but if you’re interested in becoming a paid customer, check out the box, below for a special offer. Rather than generating each edition of my newsletter from scratch, I replicate a previous edition and make only necessary changes. If you do this, make sure you send yourself a test copy. It’s far too easy to forget to update a section, change the email subject line, or forget to remove a special offer at the end of its run. This is the voice of experience speaking, in case you wondered.
*Note: When you sign up as a paid customer, MailChimp will add $30 in MonkeyRewards to both of our accounts. To claim this offer, be sure to use either the link in the post or this box when you sign up.