Why Do Authors Need a Newsletter?

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by ARHuelsenbeck

 

I’ve heard that publishers contemplating buying a new author’s work want to know how big his/her email list is; in other words, how many regular subscribers will get a personal notification from the author about the upcoming publication? Clearly, a regular newsletter going out to your readers is an effective marketing tool.

Nevertheless, the quality of your work is your first best sales influencer. Those writers whose every book I purchase (Grisham, Cornwell, Evanovich, Grafton, Dan Brown) won me as a fan because I read one book, loved it and sought every other offering. I’ve never even seen the newsletters of the authors I mentioned.

However, I do subscribe to several newsletters; I’ve also unsubscribed from many which I initially liked but which turned into continual sales pitches.

How can an author write a newsletter that fans will eagerly devour?

Katie Rose Guest Pryal says, “Newsletters are a special way to share personal insights with your readers. Newsletters, therefore, create connections with your readers. . . If you convince someone to let you into their inbox, you have to make it worth their while. . . It is, in its very form, personal.”

Write in a conversational tone, as if you were writing a letter to a cherished friend (what a lost art!). Julianne Q Johnson suggests, “What’s going on in your life? What are you working on right now? What book have you read lately and what did you think of it?”

If I had a newsletter right now (I’m planning to start mine when my work-in-progress is ready to submit), I’d write about the recent kitchen and bath remodel at my house (oh, the horror!).

Marylee McDonald sends out one of the best author newsletters I’ve ever read. She specifically targets it to other writers. A recent issue included a description and a link to a training podcast she was part of, a short introduction and a link to an article about a writer friend who fought his way back to writing after a massive stroke, and three calls for submissions from periodicals and publishers. Most of her newsletters do not mention her latest book or her side career as a writing coach and workshop instructor. Her followers already know about those and know they can click on her website link for more information.

Catia Shattuck says,

Remember that while you can use your newsletter to sell more books, the main part of your newsletter shouldn’t be selling your books. Your newsletters allow readers to get to know you, and then, just a small note about a new release will result in them buying your book. If you just use your newsletter to advertise your books, you will lose subscribers. A good recommendation is to sell every third newsletter.

“Keep it short, sweet, and structured,” says Jane Friedman. She adds,

Hardly anyone will complain that your emails are too short; the more frequently you send, the shorter your emails should probably be. It can also help to deliver the same structure every time. Every newsletter Ann Friedman sends has links to what she’s recently published and what she’s been reading, plus an animated GIF of the week.

Some more content ideas for author newsletters:

  • Writing tips
  • Musical inspiration for stories, or writing playlists
  • Short stories using characters from your books
  • Repurposed past blog posts, but in condensed form (when readers are in email mode, the shorter the better)

Reminder: if your newsletters are nothing but sales pitches, readers will unsubscribe or delete them without reading.

Need more suggestions? Check out these articles:

Now it’s your turn. Do you have an author newsletter? Do you follow any good author newsletters? What do you like to see in an author letter? Share in the comments below.

 

 

 

Guest post contributed by ARHuelsenbeck. Former elementary general music teacher ARHuelsenbeck blogs about the arts and the creative process at ARHtistic License. She is currently writing a YA mystical fantasy and a Bible study guide, and submitting a poetry chapbook, with mystery and MG drafts waiting in the wings. You can follow her on Twitter, and see some of her artwork, photography, and quilts on Instagram.

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9 thoughts on “Why Do Authors Need a Newsletter?

  1. Writing for children, I wanted to make sure my newsletter/mailing list was something they would want to sign up to so I decided to approach it like a reader’s club, to make sure they got something out of it. So I talk about the background to the book I’m writing and share interesting pieces of research while encouraging them to write themselves and enter simple competitions. I also ensure that I only send out one every month or so. I find myself irritated by being part of mailing lists that clog my inbox!

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