#RomanceAuthorUniversity - How to Make an Author Newsletter by Amy Pennza
Many authors dislike marketing and all the little administrative tasks that come with it. As writers, most of us just want to write. Hitting your target word count is hard enough without having to manage multiple social media accounts and a website.
And now you’re supposed to add an author newsletter to the mix? Who has time for that?
There’s good news, though. Once you get past the initial setup, creating an author newsletter can be fun. Done correctly, it can be one of the most effective tools in your marketing arsenal. It can also help you find new readers, connect with fans, and get reviews for your books.
Why You Need an Author Newsletter
If you don’t have an author newsletter, you’re missing out on opportunities to promote your work and connect with readers.
With over 1 million books being published every year, readers have a lot of material to choose from. Even if you publish a book every couple of months, this means readers are only hearing from you a few times a year.
This is where an author newsletter can help. By filling in the gaps between new releases, your newsletter helps you stay relevant in your readers’ minds.
You can use your newsletter to run special giveaways, build excitement about an upcoming release, share excerpts from a work in progress, or even talk about your recent vacation or favorite recipe.
Think about your favorite author — the one whose books you preorder and one-click every time they publish. Wouldn’t you love to read exclusive insights about their writing process? Or get sneak peaks of upcoming stories?
This is how your fans feel about you! By creating an author newsletter, you give your followers the chance to connect with you and your work in a way that’s not really possible through social media alone.
5 Steps for Setting Up Your Author Newsletter
If you like the idea of an author newsletter but have no idea where to begin, it helps to take it step by step. Here’s everything you need to know to get started.
1. Pick a Newsletter Service
Newsletter services do most of the heavy lifting for you. There are several excellent newsletter services out there, and many of them offer a free plan up to a certain number of subscribers. Popular options include Mailchimp, MailerLite, Constant Contact, and AWeber.
However, there’s definitely a learning curve involved — especially if you’re not exactly design savvy. While many of these services offer basic templates, many authors hire someone to design a unique template they can use month after month.
For example, you can find dozens of excellent newsletter designers on sites like Etsy and Fiverr. These sites feature experienced and highly rated designers with prices to fit every budget. A professional designer can add your logo, custom headers, and unique artwork that makes your newsletter stand out from the crowd.
As a bonus, many designers will load your custom template directly into your Mailchimp, MailerLite, or other account — either for free or for a small fee. Once your template is saved in your account, you can easily edit it from month to month.
You can also use your newsletter service to manage your subscriber list. Setting up your template is probably the most difficult part of newsletter creation.
Once you’ve done that, spend some time exploring the service’s user dashboard. Click around a bit and familiarize yourself with the import features that let you add new subscribers and manage your list.
2. Add a Subscriber Form to Your Author Website
Your author newsletter won’t do you or your writing career much good if no one can find it. You can fix this by adding a subscription box to your website.
Most newsletter services offer tutorials for linking your newsletter to your site with a subscription form. If you’re nervous about doing it yourself, however, you can usually find a WordPress expert on Fiverr who can set it up for a reasonable price.
When you add a subscription form to your website, make sure you give subscribers the option to unsubscribe from your list, so you don’t run afoul of federal internet spam laws. You can usually accomplish this in the settings section of your account on your newsletter service’s site.
3. Decide on Frequency
This step is pretty straightforward. How often will you send your newsletter? The two most popular options among authors are weekly and monthly.
Many authors like to stick with a monthly newsletter schedule. This allows you to stay fresh in your readers’ minds without clogging up their inboxes. The last thing you want is to risk people on your list unsubscribing because they see your name pop up too often.
At the same time, some authors will also send a “special edition” newsletter when they want to spread the word about a new release or awesome giveaway. These unexpected newsletters can be a treat for readers, but it’s best to keep the frequency to a minimum.
4. Decide What to Include in Your Newsletter
This step can be both fun and terrifying. You’ve got your template with your author logo, a footer with social media links, and maybe some cute design features.
Now what the heck do you put in it?
There’s no real tried and true answer to this, because what works for one author might not be that effective for another.
However, try to approach your newsletter from the mindset of what your readers would like to see. Strive to make your newsletter something valuable to your fans. They should look forward to seeing the latest edition in their inbox.
How do you do this? There are a lot of different approaches. Some ideas for various sections include:
New Releases – You can assume that people who subscribe to your newsletter enjoy your work. Let them know about upcoming releases, including links for ARC giveaways. This can also be a good place to post cover reveals, deleted scenes, and maybe a few book excerpts.
Upcoming Appearances and Events – Are you doing any book signings or making appearances in the next few months? Are you attending an upcoming writers’ conference? This is the place to let your readers know.
Personal Updates – Did you recently return from a beach vacation? Or maybe your family just welcomed a new puppy. Add a few fun photos and some short paragraphs about recent happenings in your personal life. If you’re handy in the kitchen, consider sharing your favorite recipes or a new dessert your family couldn’t get enough of.
Writing Tips – Many readers are also aspiring writers, and they’ll appreciate tips and advice from someone with experience in the industry.
Book Recommendations – What are you reading right now? Did you recently discover a new author or fall in love with a binge-worthy series? Don’t be afraid to share your faves with your fans.
One of my favorite things to include are links to freebies from other authors. I usually find these on sites like BookBub and Ereader News Today. I try to look for books I’ve read so I can do a short plot summary and review. Readers really appreciate the free books, and it’s a great way to show a little love to other authors.
Giveaways – Who doesn’t enjoy a giveaway? This doesn’t have to be anything expensive. You can use sites like BookFunnel and Booksprout to create free giveaways. These sites let you set a limit on the number of copies available, so you’re not giving away hundreds of books for free.
Of course, the items on this list are just suggestions. You can make your newsletter anything you want it to be. The key is to make it your own.
5. Keep It Short
In the year 2000, the average person’s attention span was 12 seconds. Today, that number has fallen to just eight seconds. As a result, marketers have had to adjust how they create online content. Tech juggernauts like Microsoft have even conducted entire studies about how to capture people’s fleeing attention.
You’re up against the same struggle when it comes to your newsletter. Whereas your readers want (and expect) prose in your fiction writing, they’re looking for something altogether different in the content they see online.
If you’ve got just eight seconds to capture a reader’s attention, it’s best to break your content into shorter, more digestible sections. In other words, your newsletter doesn’t have to be long. In fact, it’s probably better if it’s not.
When you’re used to writing lengthy scenes in a novel, the snappier newsletter format can be kind of freeing. Experiment with it by using compelling images along with a few sentences of content. Pair book covers or photos with a short paragraph. According to data from HubSpot, 32 percent of marketers say visual content is more effective than text.
How to Grow Your Mailing List
Now that you’ve got a newsletter, it’s time to grow your mailing list — sometimes called a “subscriber list.” You can and should spread the word by sharing on social media, but you risk fatiguing your followers if you post about it too often.
Fortunately, there are a few different strategies that can help you boost your list.
Newsletter Swaps – With a newsletter swap, you pair up with another author and agree to promote their book(s) in your newsletter in exchange for them promoting your work in theirs. The idea is that their readers will sign up for your newsletter and vice versa.
You can find authors looking to swap on sites like kboards and reddit. Additionally, Book Boast and StoryOrigin let authors match with other authors in their genre.
Group Giveaways – You can also grow your list by participating in group promotions with other authors. Sites like Book Funnel and Prolific Works let you search for group promos in your genre. With a group promo, a bunch of authors bundle their giveaways into a single, larger giveaway with the idea of reaching a bigger audience. Group promos tend to work great for romance, a genre with readers known for gobbling up books faster than any other demographic.
To participate, you’ll need to create a landing page for your book — something both Book Funnel and Prolific Works make easy. When you create your page, you’ll want to check the option that requires people to join your mailing list before they can download your title.
Include Links in Your Books – Perhaps the easiest way to grow your list is by updating the back (or front) matter in your books to include a link to your newsletter sign-up page. This makes it easy for ebook readers to navigate directly to your subscription form.
An author newsletter is a great way to grow your audience and sell more books. If you include content that delivers useful or valuable information to your readers, it won’t be long before you have a devoted fan base eager to grab your next release.
Amy Pennza has been a lawyer, a soldier, and a copywriter. She's worn combat boots and high heels in the same 24-hour period--and she definitely prefers flip flops. Actually, she prefers going barefoot while writing steamy romances about strong women and alpha men with hearts of gold. After years in Tornado Alley, she now makes her home in the Great Lakes region with her husband and kids.
Visit Amy Pennza's Web Site.
What a Wolf Dares - Lux Catena Book 2
An alpha's daughter in need of a safe haven
As a werewolf Alpha’s daughter, Sophie Gregory was raised to understand she has two important purposes in life—to be wed and bred. When she fails at the first, she wants nothing to do with the second, even if it means spending the rest of her life alone. After fleeing a disastrous arranged marriage, she seeks shelter with a neighboring pack. There's just one problem. Her new pack is home to the handsome, roguish Remy Arsenault: serial dater and notorious womanizer. Remy makes her laugh…and her heart pound. She’s not looking for commitment, but she might just be up for a fling. That's all Remy is offering, anyway, right?
A werewolf telepath ready to find his mate
Remy has a reputation for being a player, but in truth, he's ready to settle down. Too bad that's the very last thing Sophie is interested in. He will do anything to win the heart of the woman who makes his head spin with lust—including seducing her with the most delicious sex imaginable. Sophie wants a fling. But what if he's ready for so much more? She needs to feel safe, loved, and protected. That's a job description he's more than willing to fill. But when a threat from Sophie's past threatens to keep them apart, he might have to fight for their lives before he can fight for their love.
What a Wolf Dares is book 2 in the Lux Catena werewolf romance series. It can be read as a standalone, happily ever after guaranteed.
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