Author Essentials Part 5: The Newsletter

Good morning and Merry Christmas again, story Empire readers. This is PH here today with more author essentials. Previous topics include domain name choice, email address choice and considerations for creating a website as well as discussions about budgeting for beginning authors. You can click on any of the links to catch up on previous posts in this series.

Today, an author newsletter is the topic and it’s quite a big one for your consideration, especially for established authors and not just beginners. Some authors, whether they are new or not, naturally hesitate in regard to developing a newsletter. Some people are far more comfortable with blogging while others want to have more direct and specific contact with readers or potential readers. The good news is that you can use both and allow them to complement each other by expounding on some topics about your writing in a blog and then being more detailed, say in a newsletter, which can encourage readers to subscribe if they want more specific information from you. This is especially the case with nonfiction, but it can also be important for fiction genres.

First, let’s cover choosing an email service which is going to help you to deliver your newsletter as your subscriber list grows. There are lot of different email mass mailing services out there, and you’ll find a list of some of the more well-known services the end of this post. My preference (not an endorsement) at the moment is Mailerlite, but I suggest that you research services carefully and make your own decisions. In regard to budget, which has been discussed previously, many of these services allow you to use the service for free up to a certain number of campaigns or by the number of subscribers that you have. This is perfect for many people, and I used a mass mailer service free for a while myself until my list grew enough to require that I pay for the service. Of course, this also meant that I was doing fairly well with sales and gaining some interested readers. However, using one of these services for free probably fits your budget best at the beginning well enough, though what you can actually do with the service is going to be limited based on the offering. You should be able to run a fairly basic newsletter to your subscribers while you grow and build your audience and income from your writing.

Let’s move on to the purpose of having a newsletter. When comparing to a website, an email subscriber list can be built rather quickly using some subscriber building services. Although a site can grow very quickly in popularity based on your writing, the idea of having a subscriber list is that you can communicate directly with more avid readers with specific ideas that create a better sales funnel for your books. This type of information can lead people to subscribe to your list for this expanded information and means that the subscribers may well share more about you and your content. It is one more way to reach a large number of people. A subscriber list can be extremely important for an author specifically if you are not self-hosted on your website. The reason for this is that you do not own the email address off of a site you don’t host. You can, however, set up a way to allow subscribers to sign up for your newsletter elsewhere and then you can use the subscriber email addresses for your newsletter.

How you want to use your website in conjunction with your newsletter is up to you. If you don’t feel like you want to blog that much, then you can direct people to your newsletter and share quite a lot more that way. You can also use your blogging and you newsletter to complement one another. For instance you might want to write about some specific characters in a new book on your blog, but you might want to reserve some of the details about those characters for your subscribers. This is one way to encourage people to subscribe to your newsletter. But the real reason that you want a growing subscriber list for your newsletter is that you own the list and you can directly contact your subscribers regarding new releases and sales of books. In this way you are directly contacting readers who are more interested in your genre and your books and they are more likely to buy books.

The important part of running a newsletter is not to just to pound your subscriber list inboxes with lots and lots of sales announcements, begging people to buy your book. As with everything regarding readers, use your newsletter to build interest and relationship with your readers. Even if you don’t have much contact from your subscriber list, you are building a relationship with your newsletter subscribers. It’s important to understand that not every genre generates lots of responses while others may. For instance, fantasy and science fiction does not always generate a lot of responses because many of these readers are men and they just don’t send as many personal messages. Conversely, the romance genre, which is almost exclusively women, frequently creates a lot more individual contact readers. It’s merely a fact of the type of reader that you have predicts how much response you will have. But never be discouraged about that and understand that as long as your newsletter is being opened on regular basis you are making contact with readers. Your mailing server will this information about your newsletter results.

The important part is to run your newsletter such a way as to engage. I frequently share short stories in parts as well as updates on what I’m writing. Other topics that I cover on my newsletter and the character driven content for specific information about settings and other interesting points of fiction. If you’re a nonfiction writer, your subject matter can be a treasure trove of newsletter topics. Either way, you can come up with lots of content that you can use for your newsletter thought it just may require a little bit of creative thinking as a fiction writer. I’ll cover more in-depth details about newsletters at a later time in several other posts, but for now I hope that this helps you understand how to build and use your newsletter.

As with everything, do your research, check your budget and carefully make your choices about what service you want to use. Then think carefully about how you want to build and maintain your newsletter as well as what kind of content you want to share. Always remember to be careful to give the subscribers plenty of content for when it’s time to ask them to buy or share with other people about new releases. Give constantly and when you have to ask people for a purchase or sharing or anything else they will be far more responsive.

What are your experiences with a newsletter? If you don’t have a newsletter, why do you choose not to run one? Thanks for visiting Story Empire today. Please leave your thoughts and questions in the comments section and I’ll reply as soon as I can.

Oh yeah, here’s the link to email marketing services which lots of information to consider as you think through the usefulness of a newsletter, how to approach it and best budget considerations.

P. H. Solomon

19 thoughts on “Author Essentials Part 5: The Newsletter

  1. Pingback: Author Essentials Part 6: Marketing Plan | Story Empire

  2. I’m the odd man out here. I don’t have a newsletter, and am sure it would help. I just don’t have it in me to prepare and send one out. I’m probably shooting myself in the foot, and I know that. Also, sorry I’m late. I had kind of a busy day.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Not a problem, I’m busy a lot myself. All in good time to regarding the newsletter. When you’re ready it may just be time. You need to be regular with one but you don’t even have to be monthly if that doesn’t work for you.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. At present, my experience with a newsletter is quite a failure. Clearly, I do something wrong in trying to attract subscribers. I have a pop-up, a sign-up form, and I set up a freebie, but for some reason, it didn’t make any difference. I discovered that for fiction writers, attracting subscribers is more difficult than for non-fiction writers, unless you can afford to give away entire novels for free.
    I will have to try harder! 🙂 Or try something new…

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This is the one big part of the puzzle I have yet to develop. I started with MailChimp several years ago and had a small list of friends and family, but I didn’t follow through and never found a way to build a good email list. Thanks for this post. You’ve inspired me to revisit that aspect of being an Authorpreneur!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Building a list takes some patience. Main thing is to focus on good content and then offer some of that value when onboarding new subscribers. Stay low on the budget until growth requires more money but plan for it over the long term.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m hoping to be better with sending out a newsletter on a regular basis in 2020. Right now it’s more hit or miss and has been for a while. I think newsletters work especially well in reaching readers who aren’t actively engaged online or in following blog posts. I have a lot of those!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think I’ve done well this last year just from having a plan of type of content. I don’t have to think too much about it. I do want to include more about new releases as those books progress and create interesting background for characters or short fiction only for subscribers and private group members. I’ve been on autopilot with it somewhat so new types of content needs to be done in advance but scheduling ahead can help that too.

      Liked by 1 person

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