Don’t be scared, this is one of the best things you could ever do for your book selling career!
Also, before I get into it, I want to give ALL the credit to my friend D.R. Bailey for HELPING ME to get my newsletter started. I was once scared of newsletters but his encouragement and knowledge helped me get my list to where it is now.
So, I wanna start by saying, everything in you career as a self-published and independent author is likely to happen slow and easy. I’m not traditionally published, but I know that even those who get a deal with a traditional publishing house have long wait times from when they sign their contract to when their book actually comes out. That said, please don’t rush things. Rushing only creates unnecessary worry and anxiety. Don’t worry if your mailing list is growing slowly. Just do it right and let it grow. Slow growth is better than no growth.
That said! Here are some action steps for creating your newsletter!
- Pick an email marketing service*
- You need a email marketing service because they facilitate everything. They collect and hold on to the email addresses for you, they offer space on their website for you to create your newsletter, they offer stats such as the percentage of people who opened your newsletter or clicked your links, and much more!
- There are quite a few such as MailerLite and Mailchimp. Make the best choice for you. Take advantage of free trials and free accounts to try out the services.
- Don’t be afraid to pay for your email marketing service as well. I use a free account with Mailchimp but as my subscriber numbers get higher (above 2,000), I’m going to have to pay, and that’s cool because having a mailing list has been very valuable to my brand.
- Set up a landing page or link so people can sign up
- You’ll need a way to share your sign up! Different services offer different options. You can put links or pop-ups on your blog and website, or share links on social media and sometimes services give you an actual landing page, independent of your own site or social media account.
- Share with everyone!
- Now that you’re set up, share with everyone! There is no one who you shouldn’t share this with because anyone might be interested in your updates.
And that’s it! Except… there are some extra things you can do to really get your numbers up.
- Write a “Reader Magnet”.
- This is a short eBook that you give away for free in exchange for a newsletter sign up. This can be a prequel to your book series or a standalone book that exemplifies your style and what your newsletter will offer. Here is some info on Reader magnets from Story Origin.
- Host your reader magnet on a website such as StoryOrigin or Bookfunnel.
- These services connect to your email marketing tool and will collect email address from those who sign up for your reader magnet. They will also deliver the eBook in multiple formats (PDF, ePub, Mobi, etc.
- Add your reader magnet to BookSweeps.
- This website is full of readers who are looking for free books and are willing to sign up for newsletters specifically to get it.
- Join newsletter swaps, group shares and giveaways on StoryOrigin and Booksweeps.
- Both services offer promotions, some paid, some free.
- On StoryOrigin you can request swaps with others and join promo book groups. These involved sharing the book of another author or a banner from a group of books being branded together such as All Thrillers or KU Finds.
- Booksweeps offers paid promos which put your book into a Sweepstakes for readers. Readers can win 50 books and an eReader. They can opt in to join your mailing list as well! I’ve had success with promos and use them often.
- Do newsletter swaps (you share my reader magnet or book, I’ll share yours) with your author friends!
- ANY friend who has a newsletter can do a newsletter swap with you. Provide them with your book cover and a link and boom! There you go! You share their book as well. It’s a win-win! Psst… I personally would love to swap with you!
Why should I even have a newsletter?
This is a great place to find genuine, interested readers of your books and your future stories. If someone signs up for your list, they like what you’re offering! Your marketing for future books goes straight to their inbox. It’s also a pool of potential advanced readers (for reviews) and beta readers.
How often should I send?
It’s a bit of a balancing act but bi-weekly and once a month have always been successful for authors I’ve subscribed too and discussed newsletters with. I send mine bi-weekly but many I know send theirs monthly. I would suggest planning your schedule and sticking to it, no matter what it is.
How often you send your newsletter has EVERYTHING to do with what you’re sending. Casual updates? Once a month. Book recommendations (outside of your own)? Bi-weekly.
Would I ever suggest once a week? No. In my experience, I could NEVER have enough material and updates to share weekly. Additionally, when it comes to author newsletters, I have never found one that I liked enough to read it every week.
Lastly, you are allowed to send more emails when you have more news. For instance, I send on the 1st and 15th but when my book came out, I send two additional emails: One to request ARC readers and one to announce when the book released, making four newsletters sent in one month. I’d only do that for VERY special announcements or requests.
Now, what should I email my subscribers?
You have to give them something that makes them want to open your email. Not to be rude, but just sharing your book over and over again is not something I would open your email for every two weeks. Here are some suggestions for content:
- Help the #WritersCommunity! Share book recommendations!
- Countdown to your next book release (about two months before if you’re doing bi-weekly).
- Author’s journal discussing your progress.
- Cover Reveals for yourself or other authors.
- Interview your author friends!
- Share videos from your YouTube channel, or someone else’s.
- Share your social media posts and discuss them. Not everyone who subscribes to your newsletter will be following you on social media…
- Request ARC readers or beta readers for your project.
- and so much more!
How should I design my newsletter?
However you want! I used to do elaborate emails on Canva but downgraded after running a survey which suggested my readers didn’t really like leaving their email for my newsletter. From there, I started designing my newsletter on MailChimp and just used Canva to create images to include in the newsletter and make it look pretty!
What about legal stuff and consumer rights?
Your email marketing service provider will help with all of that. They are working to keep everything legal for you, however, one thing I would remind you is that you should not add ANYONE to your mailing list without their permission and it’s best to have proof of their permission which is what your email marketing service provider would be doing for you.