Author Newsletter: Must Haves and Absolutely Nots



Why you need an author newsletter.

“Aw man, not another thing I need to setup and run. I’m already too busy trying to manage the other hundred things and profiles I was told I needed.” Sound familiar? When we tell an author they need a newsletter, the whine response tends to be pretty high. We don’t blame them, it IS another thing to setup and run when most are already busy maintaining a hundred other things. But here is the simple truth:

An author owns their newsletter.

Here’s why that’s so important:

  • When you post on social media, not everyone sees your posts; Facebook has gotten so bad, really no one sees your posts on there unless you pay for them to.
  • People friend, like, follow, subscribe for all types of reasons and aren’t necessary dedicated fans, so when you post into the masses (and they see it), they might not be really interested in your content.
  • Social comes with rules, and if you don’t follow them, you can end up with a suspended or terminated account, thus losing contact with all those potential fans you’ve spend so much time connecting with.

To sum up why a newsletter is important: you built an email list that is yours. You own it. No one else (or no company) can control or steal that list. Those on your email list are quality fans who do want to see your content and they are more likely to see it when you send them something directly via email as opposed to sharing something on social.

How to get started and build your awesome email list:

Start with a free mail provider like MailChimp or Constant Contact. These two are free to use (until you hit so many subscribers, but that won’t happen overnight and gives you time to try them out) and moderately simple to configure and modify.

Once you sign up and establish a list, work on growth. Have a list for when you do giveaways. You can use that newsletter sign up form and then later email those subscribers and ask if they’d like to move over to what we’ll call your master quality list—or the list of quality readers who know and like you and your books. Don’t just lump everyone into one list or you might get a high number of unsubscribes or uninterested readers who never open your mail and no one wants that.

So you’ve got your lists. Next up is to design your templates, and while you might need a few hours to do it now, it saves time every time you go to send a newsletter as you can go to your template, hit copy, and use it as the base for your awesome email. Design tip: make sure to give your template the same look and feel as your website. Keeping the two branded similarly gives consistency and helps a reader easily recognize your author brand.

Next up, how to build your list of quality readers and fans.

While there are many ways to do this, here are a few of our favorite ideas:

  • Write a short story or novella to tie-in with one of your books or series (can also use one of your full-length books for this) and give it away for free if readers subscribe to your newsletter.
  • Invite your family and friends and those on social media to join your mailing list.
  • Run giveaways where people need to subscribe to your newsletter in order to be entered to win. Remember to feed these prize-seekers into a separate list so not to add in bad leads to your master list. Also keep prizes relevant to your books and not generic so that people who subscribe are more likely to be your fans. If you give away a gift card, most likely, anyone will enter to win it, but if you give away something specific to your books or your genre, those fans are more likely to also like you and your books.
  • Let Aurora run a newsletter cross-promotion for you! You can email us for more details and pricing on this. This promo connects you with other big-name authors in your genre and helps you gain their subscribers and them gain yours so you already know these will be quality readers.
  • If you’ve got a book signing, local reading, or event, then bring a newsletter sign-up sheet. This is often accompanied with a giveaway of some kind.
  • Got that freebie book we mentioned earlier? Drop a graphic telling fans to download their free book in the back (or front) of all of your published books so readers sign up for your newsletter after reading one of your books. You can also put that free download on business cards or bookmarks and hand those out during signings, conferences, local readings, etc.

We’ve discussed why a newsletter is more important than say social media, how to set a newsletter up, and how to grow one, so let’s talk briefly about the absolutely must nots of an author newsletter.

  • Don’t spam your mailing list with constant “buy my book” emails. Let your readers get to know you and your books in an organic and natural way. Yes, still send out new release and book emails, but limit the sell, sell, sell mentality.
  • Don’t buy your mailing lists. You want quality readers, not fake ones.
  • Don’t share your mailing lists with anyone. These readers sign up trusting you to keep their email addresses confidential, so do that.

We hope you’re ready to get your newsletter going, and hope you see the value in having one. They take time to grow, so start early. You can even begin growing one without having your book out yet, so don’t wait. Just think about all the eager readers you’ll have in place when your book does come out. Do try to send 1-2 emails a month so that you’re not spamming fans with too many and not too few to where readers will forget they’ve subscribed to your newsletter…or even who you are.

Try to think out of the box too! You can send different types of emails. We often tell authors to have a main newsletter where you put important news on releases, sales, anything going on with you, then do an email that’s unique for you. Maybe you send a chapter out mid-month, or do a giveaway exclusive to your subscribers. Whatever it is, have fun with it!

Got questions, want to brainstorm some new email ideas, or want help with one of the ideas we mentioned? Message us on Facebook or shoot us an email as we are always happy to help.

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