Friday, July 24, 2015

Should You Start a Newsletter?

One of the things I do as a virtual assistant for several authors is the creation of their newsletter. In a social media world where all of our reach is constantly restricted by one algorithm or another, reaching readers and our audience is getting harder and harder. As a publishing industry, we strayed from the value we put in newsletters for some time, wanting to reach readers where they are at. But anymore, that’s not always the best way and the buzz in the industry is to get back to newsletters.

So how do you create a really great newsletter that gains you subscribers and gets a strong open rate?

If you’re looking for a secret sauce to build a great newsletter fast…there isn’t one.  Building a newsletter takes time and patience and most of all perseverance to put out a quality product every time. Just like with writing a novel, putting together a newsletter should be a labor of love—a glimpse into your heart and life that makes you seem more “human” to your reader.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind while your building your newsletter.

Content is just as important as numbers, because without one you won’t have the other. While building your newsletter, don’t obsess about how many subscribers you have. What you should obsess about is giving those subscribers the very best that you can. The numbers will come.

Keep it short and sweet. Just like with writing a book, give it a beginning, middle and end. One of my favorite newsletters is from Christian romance author, Becky Wade. (sign up for her newsletter in her sidebar). She always starts out with some kind of upcoming book news, includes her latest blog news, a recipe from her sister, a fashion tip from another sister, and a book recommendation from her mom. This works for her genre very well, which leads to my next point…

Keep content relevant for your genre…and a bit about your life. Searching for good content when you don’t have a book sale or new book news? What genre do you write? If you write historical, legal thriller, romance, comedy, whatever it may be, readers are getting your newsletter because they also like your genre. So take something from your research and share a behind the scenes view.

Another one of my favorite newsletters is from Deborah Raney (sign up for her newsletter on her home page) who always includes some kind of news about her family and what she’s reading or what she’s endorsing next. Not all writers are going to be comfortable with this, but share what you can or want. Readers want a peek into your life, so what are you drinking from Starbucks this season? What team are you cheering for in the playoffs? Where are you going on vacation? Your life is interesting to people even if you don’t think so.

Be consistent with your newsletter mailings. If you’re sending out a newsletter every season, make sure you do it. If you are sending out a newsletter anytime there is big book news, make sure you do it. This is your direct line into your reader’s inboxs…now to just get them to open the email.

Have a catching email header subject. The better the “call to action” the better the open rate you’ll get for your newsletter. Something that hints at your content. “New cover you’re seeing first!” “Fiction sale to load your ereader!” etc. Keep it short. Make it catchy.

You’re going to get people that unsubscribe every time you send a newsletter. It’s the nature of the business and it really can’t be helped. Don’t take it personally. It’s more than likely because they are tired of having their inbox flooded with mail (and can you blame them?) But the key to keeping your subscribers is to promise and deliver really great content. Figure out what your readers love and deliver it to them every time.

Maybe that means a giveaway (like Sarah Sundin does in every newsletter) or revealing your new cover to your subscribers first like Beth Vogt did recently.  Your subscribers want to feel special, spoiled and valued.

You’re an author (hear you roar! ;), you have readers who care about you and when your new book is coming out.

So create a newsletter, make it professional (yes, invest in money to have a nice template—it’s worth it), keep it to your brand/genre and then have fun with it. It might not be your favorite part of the journey, but it’s a valuable one.

Take the time to invest in building it and you’ll see the fruits of it over time.

What are your best newsletter tips? 

Casey Herringshaw is a homeschool graduate and has been writing since high school. She is a country girl now living in a metropolis of Denver, Colorado, employed as an administrative assistant at Wordserve Literary.


Rebecca Gomez said...

Creating a newsletter has been on my list of things I should do for a while. I guess I better get to it! Thanks for the nudge.

Jeanne Takenaka said...

Thanks for the greaet suggestions, Casey! Your tips make so much sense. I know I probaby should start a newsletter, but right now my time is minimal. I'm keeping this post because of allt he great information you've shared. Thanks for giving us your wisdom!

Casey said...

Rebecca, consider yourself nudged! :)

Casey said...

Jeanne, and I think if you're going to start one, do it when you have the time to really devote to it and do it right. Otherwise, I think you're doing simply fabulous at all you ARE keeping up with. :)

Mary Vee Writer said...

To those of us who are feeling your nudge, you mentioned templates. Do you have some suggested links to templates?

Pam Hillman said...

Great tips! Thanks Casey. I love the idea of a recipe or a craft from someone else. Too fun! :)