Thursday, May 21, 2015

5 Ideas for Author Newsletter Content -- A Guest Post by Sarah Forgrave

Ashley here! I am so excited to be hosting my dear friend and former Alley Cat (though once an Alley Cat always an Alley Cat, right?) Sarah Forgrave on the Alley today! Please welcome her back to the blog! :) I know you'll enjoy her insight!


5 Ideas for Author Newsletter Content

Has anyone else noticed that Facebook and Twitter can be fickle? With the ever-changing social media landscape, it can be a headache for authors to find and keep our audience. 

My wise agent once advised me to think beyond social media and begin building an e-newsletter. But the age-old question inevitably cropped up: What should I write about?

As I’ve navigated these waters, I’ve honed in on five items that are valuable additions to any author newsletter.

1)   News – (Insert “well, duh” here. :)) This can include recently published articles, upcoming book releases, book signings, or special pricing deals. For the pre-published author, this might include project completions or agent signing news. Don’t forget to share personal news too! If you’ve just gotten married or had a baby or moved to a new house, your readers will love the inside peek at your life.

2)   Photos – Just like web content, you want your newsletter to be visually appealing. Consider investing in a subscription to a stock photo website for access to thousands of photos that can convey the mood you want. Also include personal photos. When I visited Alley Cat Ashley this spring, I included a photo of us in my newsletter. Not only did I get to share a personal side of me, but I got to introduce my readers to a fabulous writer.

3)   Items of interest to your brand – I know, there’s that ugly “B” word. To demystify it, think about unique aspects of your writing that your readers would find interesting.

For instance, author Dani Pettrey writes “Armchair Adventures,” and her newsletters often include a snapshot of a compelling adventure story that relates to her latest book release. In my newsletters, I include a Healthy Habits Corner with nutrition and fitness tips, since I’m a fitness instructor and incorporate health and fitness into my fiction. For a novelist who writes World War II books, interesting history facts might be shared.

Recipes can be a great addition too, particularly if they fit into your brand. Any recipes I share are healthy and simple, Dani might share a trail mix recipe, and a WWII writer might share a recipe that was popular during that time period.

Whatever you share, the goal is to make it interesting, valuable for the reader, and something that sets the tone for your writing in general.

4)   Giveaways – This might include package giveaways related to your books. For instance, Dani Pettrey gave away a Land & Sea Package during the release of her book, Stranded, which centered around an Alaskan Cruise. The package included fun items related to the book’s setting and theme.

You might also give away books (by yourself or authors similar to you) or gift cards. In each quarterly newsletter I send, I give away an Amazon gift card to one of my subscribers. It’s a simple way to say thank you to my readers, and it’s a fun surprise for the winners too.

5)   Free content – At first glance, this might sound the same as giveaways, but they’re distinctly different. Giveaways can include non-book items, and they are a prize given to a limited number of winners that are drawn at random. Free content, on the other hand, is given to ALL subscribers and would involve something written by you.

For example, earlier this year I wrote a romantic e-short exclusively for my newsletter subscribers. Now whenever someone new subscribes on my site, they automatically receive the short story in their inbox. I enjoyed the process of writing the e-short so much, I have another one in the works for later this year. It’s been a great opportunity for me to give readers a small taste of my writing while waiting for my full-length novels to be published.

If you don’t have fictional content to offer, there are other possibilities for free content. Playing off my health and fitness theme, I could offer a healthy meal toolkit exclusively to newsletter subscribers. Author Beth Vogt offers a list of her favorite inspirational quotes to blog subscribers.

Whatever is unique to you that would add value (and, of course, fits within your brand) can be a great incentive to draw in new subscribers and keep current subscribers engaged.

And really, that’s the ultimate goal behind newsletters – to find new reader friends and keep the current ones excited about your work.

By offering unique, relevant content that enriches their lives, you’re building a relationship that will rise above the ever-changing waters of social media.

Enjoy the ride!


Have you started an author newsletter? What do you like about other authors’ newsletters you follow? Any content ideas you can add to my list?

Sarah Forgrave is a work-at-home mom whose work has been featured in Guideposts’ A Cup of Christmas Cheer, as well as the webzine Ungrind and the Pearl Girls™ book, Mother of Pearl: Luminous Lessons and Iridescent Faith. When she’s not writing, she enjoys teaching fitness classes, shopping the produce section of her local grocery store, and hanging out with her family in their Midwest home. To read Sarah’s free romantic e-short, “Running to You,” you can sign up for her newsletter on her website. She can also be found on Facebook, Twitter, and her not-so-secret addiction—Pinterest.


Archeage Girl said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Sarah Forgrave said...

Thank you, Ashley, for having me here today! It's an honor to be back on the Alley. :)

Ashley Clark said...

You know how loved you are around here!

Krista Phillips said...

LOVE these ideas, Sarah!!! I have a newsletter but at this point, just use it to announce sales and new releases, but trying to wrap my head around making more cyclical. You gave some fabulous ideas for it, thank you!!!

Anyother thing I've done to PREP for newsletter writing is to subscribe to a few authors' newsletters to see what others are doing. Just like everything, learning from those who have gone before is always a good idea!

Cara Putman said...

Great article! Need to apply it.

Sarah Forgrave said...

Krista -- GREAT idea to watch others and take notes! I've done the same thing and learned so much.

Cara -- Thanks! Story of all our lives, right? :)

Mary Vee Writer said...

I've been preparing to do a newsletter and really appreciated this post. I would really like to get a few authors newsletters to see what they do and then decide how I could tweak it to meet my own personal use.
As a result of your post I signed up for Dani's newsletter. I'd like to do a few more.