One piece of platforming advice I feel strongly about is that every author should have a newsletter. And yes, this is still true even if you are not yet published! I cannot say this enough. Any author who wants a readership—even if that’s a future readership–should have an author newsletter.
I often hear authors worry that if they aren’t published they won’t have anything to put into a newsletter.
News flash: An author newsletter can’t just be about buying your latest book anyway.
A newsletter is about building a relationship with your biggest fans over a series of continued touch points. The earlier you start your newsletter, the more time you have to build that fan base. After all, you don’t want to be starting from square one on the day your book releases—you want a subscriber list of eager fans already itching to buy it.
Creating a newsletter is a lot simpler than you think—building relationships with readers is something you can do at any stage of your author career. Here are three tips to get you started:
1) Be useful
Consider the audience you’re writing is for. What do they want to know? What do they want to understand? What do they want to keep track of?
Depending on what you write, this could be anything from an explainer of body horror references in Stranger Things, to a deep dive into Benjamin Franklin’s inventions, the latest innovations in train car technology, or just about anything, really. Be creative, and don’t be afraid to be specific in your focus.
Whatever it is, you can serve as a connector and curator for your email subscribership to the very best of this information to them on the regular. If you have an expertise in an area, even better! Share your own insights and explainers on the topic.
2) Be entertaining
We all love fun! Consider: What do you look forward to most about your favorite newsletters? (If you don’t have an answer, try checking out more newsletters from different authors and topics you’re interested in to get ideas).
The things I look forward to are some of the simplest and most digestible things—a quote of the day (the Skimm), a mood gif (Ann Friedman), a top 5 list (Austen Kleon).
Where does your mind wander across the Internet? Even reading cat memes are totally fair game here (though, keep your brand and audience in mind).
3) Be authentic
Perhaps because I work in content marketing and obsess over content all day, I get jaded on unoriginal newsletters very quickly. One sure way to never be stale no matter what is to share your authentic self. No matter what content is in your newsletter, share it with your unique voice, humor and perspective.
What causes are you passionate about? What gets you excited? Or angry? What makes you pull out your soap box?
Odds are, there is already a lot of overlap between these topics and what you write, but keeping the themes of your writing in mind as a framework can help you share what’s most likely to connect with your target audience.
What are you waiting for?
Even if you’re not sure what to do with an email newsletter yet, it’s okay. Just create an account on Mailchimp, Tiny Letter, or another free online service, and set up a subscribe box on your website. Even if you’re still figuring out your emails, you can get fans’ permission to email them later, when you’re ready.
Remember, you’re a writer. You’re writing. So a day will come when you will have a book to release, and you’ll want people to read it when that happens. By starting your newsletter now, you’ll not only gain a community to keep you motivated through your publishing journey, but also a fandom that will already be familiar with you and ready to read when your book releases.
By day, E. J. Wenstrom is a digital strategy pro with over 10 years at communications firms. By early-early morning, she’s an award-winning sci-fi and fantasy author of the Chronicles of the Third Realm War novels, starting with Mud. She believes in complicated characters, terrifying monsters, and purple hair dye.