Never underestimate the power of a good newsletter. Sadly, with Facebook’s constantly-changing algorithms, your posts may be getting little-to-no-reach. But newsletters give you a direct line of communication to your readers. They are the perfect tool to announce new releases, contest wins, sales, or to simply share what’s new in your world. They can be sent monthly, quarterly, or whenever you have news.
So, what’s the skinny on newsletters? Glad you asked!
There are lots of newsletter platforms out there, but the most popular include Constant Contact, MailChimp, Active Campaign, and GetResponse. My website design platform, Wix, has their own newsletter product called ShoutOut, which is what I use. Some platforms are free, some charge after you’ve reached a certain number of subscribers, while others charge a nominal monthly fee. There are plenty of reviews on the internet of the various products, so check them out before you decide.
BUILDING YOUR LIST
First, don’t buy lists. You want engaged recipients, people who actually want to read your newsletters and answer your calls to action. It’s much better to choose quality over quantity.
So, how do I build a list, you ask? Well, there are lots of ways.
- If you blog, include an opt-in form after each post.
- Promote it on social media.
- Run contests and giveaways on social media. Entry into the contest requires the individual subscribe to your newsletter.
- Include a sign-up form on your website.
- Use an exit pop-up on your website that displays when it detects the visitor is about to leave.
- Have a sign-up sheet at personal appearances and book signings. I display a sign-up sheet at every book signing and do giveaways. Anyone who signs up for my newsletter list is eligible to win a prize.
Consistency is key. Create a look and feel for your newsletter that reflects who you are, what you write, and most of all, your brand. Once you’ve created a solid template, it’s super easy to edit the content when you’re ready to send the latest installment.
Header – You want the recipient to know immediately who the newsletter is from. Using your brand graphics across all platforms (website, social media, and newsletters) provides instant recognition for your followers.
Color Schemes – Using color codes, like Hex or RGB, you can customize your newsletter to match your brand colors.
Lay-out – Keep it clean and crisp, break it into sections, and use plenty of headers so readers can skip to the sections that interest them most. Maybe create consistent sections every month. Write foodie romance? Have a monthly recipe section. Write historical romance? Include an “On This Date in History Section.”
Footer – In the footer, remember to include your contact info, including social media links, website and/or blog links.
Once you’ve created a template, send it out to friends and family to get their feedback. Are the colors eye-catching without being obtrusive? Is the font easy to read? Do they like the name (see below)?
CONTENT IS KING (OR QUEEN)
Create a Title – Author Lauren Layne as “The Clutch.” I have “Rebecca’s Readers.” Include your title in the subject line. When coming up with a title, you should check out the List of SPAM Trigger Words and avoid those at all costs. The last thing you want is to have your shiny new newsletter relegated to the dreaded junk folder because you used one of the forbidden words.
KISS – You know the KISS Principle, right? Keep it Simple, Stupid. Well, this definitely applies to newsletters. Write brief, punchy paragraphs and include eye-catching graphics (see below for more). No one has time to read War & Peace.
Make it Personal (but not too personal) – Say something more than “Buy My Books!” Talk about your summer vacation (briefly) and include a photo. Keep your readers apprised of what you’re working on, any upcoming personal appearances or book signings, the date of your next release, or a link to an excerpt. Give a shout out about a book you’re reading or a movie you enjoyed. And, as with your books, make sure the content is edited and free of typos and grammatical errors.
Clear Call to Action (CTA) – Do you want them to buy your book? Leave a review? Vote for your cover in a contest? Use clear CTA buttons with links to where the action takes place. It’s all part of the KISS Principle.
Eye-catching graphics – It doesn’t always need to be your book cover. Include photos of you at your latest book signing, the newest furry addition to the family, or a pic from your trip to the Grand Canyon. Just make sure the file size is large enough that the photos are crisp and clear. Don’t have a photo? Many newsletter platforms offer free or inexpensive stock photos you can use.
Whew! You’ve created your template, given your newsletter a catchy name, and filled it with fun content and gorgeous graphics. Now what? Why, send it, of course! Then analyze your ROI. Newsletter platforms typically offer analytics so you can see how many and who opened it and/or clicked on it. At first, experiment with days of the week to determine which days seem to offer the most reads and clicks. Once you’ve figured that out, be consistent. I’ll be honest, some months I struggle to come up with news worth sharing, but I find once I start drafting it, I wind up with far more than I have room for. Creating my newsletter is my favorite marketing activity.
How about you? Do you have an author newsletter? What’s your take on newsletters?