Newsletters seem to have a way of intimidating many authors. If they don’t get tripped up over what to say, then it’s the commitment to a frequent schedule, or even the lack of a jump in Amazon rankings after each new issue. Many lose themselves to the drone of obligatory promotion blasts once a month and call it good, kicking the can until four weeks later when the dreaded, boring process starts all over again. But that’s not how it should be! An author’s newsletter shouldn’t be a dreaded burden, and it shouldn’t be a bore–hand to God, it can (and should) be fun.
You just have to rethink how you go about it.
Just follow these steps.
1. Shop Around
The best place to start for a great newsletter is by knowing, in general, what you love in a newsletter. So for a couple weeks, go ahead and sign up for every single email newsletter you come across. Other authors, news outlets, experts, shopping websites, everything.
Then, watch it all come in. What trends do you see? How are different people and companies going about their emails differently? What kinds of layouts catch your eye? Take it all in, and question every piece of it.
And more than anything else, pay attention to what you enjoy. For some, it might be the top quality curated links a certain person has an uncanny knack for pulling together on a theme. Or, maybe it’s the simple elegance of ample white space. Maybe it’s the digestible quick hit of a top 5 list, or the satisfying deep dive into a topic you’re passionate about.
There’s no right or wrong answer here, just note your observations.
2. Create Your Own Template
This is where it starts to get fun: Consider the notes you took in step one as you took in all different kinds of newsletters.
- If a snarky headline enticed you to open an email right away, find ways to add your own humor into the subject lines.
- If a picture of an author’s dog gave you the warm fuzzies, your cat might do the same for your subscribers.
- If you lost yourself in the latest updates about an author’s creative process, find ways to give your own subscribers a glimpse into how you work.
Don’t think in terms of topics, here — think in terms of sections, pieces you can offer a variation on every time. Then stack them together, keeping an eye out for balance between meatier content that will offer readers a bit of depth and smaller bites that will give snackable satisfaction.
And of course, don’t forget your goal is to keep in touch with readers who will want your books. As long as you have reasonable tie-in to what you write about in some way, you’re golden.
3. Commit to a Schedule
Now that you know what combination of content is going to keep you excited to write a newsletter, it’s time to figure out your schedule.
How frequently can you create the content in the template you created, at top quality?
Once a month? Once a week? Once a quarter? There’s really no right or wrong to this, just find a workflow that’s a reasonable commitment. (Okay, if you can’t commit to once every three months with confidence, reassess what you’re including in your newsletter and make it less demanding to create —that’s a bare minimum frequency).
And hey, no pressure. If you commit to a frequency that later proves overly ambitious, you have the power to change it. You’re the boss of this little publication, after all.
While there’s nothing wrong with slow, steady growth, a newsletter is undeniably more fun when you have an audience to address. Which means you need to invite people to subscribe.
Start by creating a snappy description of what readers can expect from your newsletter. This works best when it’s specific, short and matches the tone of the newsletter itself.
Then, drop that thing everywhere you can–your website, your social media profiles, your email signature, swag, everything. Your fans will be sure to catch on!
Have Fun with Your Newsletter
Newsletters are an amazing way to stay in touch with readers, share more of yourself and your work, and stay in touch between new releases. So don’t let the idea of a newsletter intimidate or frustrate you–choose to include content that you’ll enjoy creating and sharing with your fans.
Over time, you can learn more about what your readers love by monitoring your engagement analytics and hone it even further if you need to. But by starting with a formula of content you know you’ll love creating, you’re much more likely to stick with it. Odds are, that enthusiasm will be contagious, and your subscribers will have more fun, too.
By day, E. J. Wenstrom is a content marketing and public relations expert. By early early morning, she’s the award-winning author of the Chronicles of the Third Realm War series. Join her email list for bookish news and a free download of the TRW series prequel RAIN at www.ejwenstrom.com.