I hope you got the chance to read my post about why writers should start a newsletter. At the end of the day, the choice is yours on how you want to build your author platform. A lot of authors find success in using email as a way to truly reach their audience.
If you’ve decided that it’s time to start a newsletter, then it’s time to plan. For starters, what should you send to your readers? What will keep them reading? What will convert email readers into book readers, am I right?
Here, I’m going to share some of your options. At the end of the day, you can share so many different things but this list is meant to get you started.
I used to write Monthly McGruder Updates here on the website. Now, I save most of these updates for my newsletter. I’m still going to talk about updates on social media through my Let’s Get Real posts, but I’m using my newsletter to give my audience a heads up on my writing process. Where am I in the publishing process? Do I have a title for my WIP? Do I need beta readers? Do I have a release date?
Remember, you can assume that your audience WANTS these updates from you because they gave you their contact information. Until they unsubscribe, you can assume that they want to hear first about your updates.
Giveaways, Sales, or Discounts
Let’s be honest: our book budgets cry every time one of our favorite authors publishes their latest reads! We wish we could buy every book in the world. And thus continues the arm wrestle between getting our books in every hand while putting food on the table.
Your audience absolutely wants to know if your books are on sale. Since this is an exclusive list of fans, give them the juicy details. How long can they expect to enjoy the sale? Do you give them a head start so they have more time?
Finally, give them a discount that draws them to the newsletter or makes them happy to stay on your list. For example, I have a discount for my editing services for anyone on my email list. I usually end my newsletters with a regular reminder to encourage them to work with me.
Exclusive Chapters or Content
But wait, giving things for free sucks. We don’t want to provide any free labor, right? Absolutely.
Think of exclusive content as a strategy to turn email readers to book readers. If I can get a free chapter of a book, I’m more likely to want to know how the story ends. I’ll also be more acquainted with the author’s style. Maybe I can’t buy her book now, but it’s definitely going on my TBR/budget list.
Consider providing access to the prologue or first chapter of your books that are already available to buy. Or, provide the first chapter of your WIP. It’s a simple way to get some beta reader feedback. This is priceless tactic for feeding your creative writing and priming your readers to be excited for your upcoming release.
You can either put the chapter right in the email or you can have a link to a website where they can access the content. If you’re starting off with less than 100 subscribers, you may want to reshare your content as you build momentum. There’s no reason to share all your best work too early in the game.
Access to Popular Posts
There’s no sense in writing amazing content if no one’s going to enjoy it! If you wrote an A+ blog post a year ago, you can keep sharing it!
For popular posts, I send this as a separate post. I use the title and email to explain what the reader will glean by reading the post. I try to show how the post is relevant to a problem the reader would like to solve. Then, I provide easy access to my website where they can read more.
This is a great way to reach out to your audience and meet their needs. You will have to determine who your target audience is in order to know which posts to share or how to relate that content to them.
Still Stumped? Ask for Feedback!
Your email list will look different from mine; if I write fantasy YA novels and you write horror novels, the difference is already dramatically apparent. You’ll want to provide what your readers want to learn or receive.
If you’re feeling discouraged, ask for help. You can create a survey or poll and let the people tell you what they want to see. Some writers set up a $5 Amazon gift card giveaway for their survey participants and it works.
Also, take a look at your inbox. What kind of content draws you to sign up for more emails? What do you wish you could see in your inbox? Open someone else’s newsletter and see what they’re doing. How would you do it differently? See if you can incorporate those ideas in your own newsletter without totally copying someone else.
Give Yourself Time to Learn & Grow
Even with my current newsletter insight, I still don’t have 50 email subscribers. This is after a year of writing emails.
I could be upset and compare myself to others, or I could remind myself that I’m playing a long game. It worked for my social media following and I know it’ll work for my email list. I’ve learned more about what my fans want to see, I know my voice, and I know which marketing principles work for me in this time of my life.
Also remember that not everyone will even see your newsletters. If you’re posting amazing things, remind folks that you’re about to share the newsletter or that it already sent. Sometimes you have to do this while starting out. I know it’s frustrating but not everyone reads all their emails perfectly.
If you’d like to see my newsletter in action, you certainly can! Subscribe through the pop up on the website, this image below, the prompt to your right, or go here.
I think that’s a good place to end. Let me hear about your questions! Do you have newsletter ideas that could use a second opinion? Next time, we’ll talk about how you can make it stupid-easy to convince people to sign up and enjoy your emails.