By Sara Beth Williams
The thought of sending out a monthly newsletter can be overwhelming. What should I say? Does it always have to be writing-related? What if I don’t have enough content? What should it look like? My most-often dispensed advice is this: subscribe to the newsletters of your favorite author, and glean from them what you like, and leave alone what you don’t.
Then infuse it with your own personality. You are you. You may not be as wordy as me (#sorrynotsorry) You may prefer to write short letters, long letters, letters about your family or about everything but your family.
Below is a list of 12 items to include in your newsletters. Not everything is necessary to include in every single newsletter.
1 An update on your writing journey – This is of course why most people sign up for newsletters. They want to know what is going to come next. So tell them, even if it’s a long time off. “I’m working on my next book and it’s going to be awesome!” is perfectly sufficient sometimes if that’s all that’s happening. Tease them with some super early info; make them want to know more and then they’ll keep reading your newsletters. But absolutely mention signed contracts, upcoming book releases, if your book is on sale, or if you win an award.
2 What you might be reading / what you have read / what you are going to read – Most people who sign up for newsletters are readers! So if you don’t have much else to say, tell them what you’re reading and then ask them what they’re reading, too. This is a great way to engage subscribers. I call this in my newsletter, The Reading Corner. This is probably a common name. Nadine Brande uses it below. Make something else up. Reading Shelf? My Bookshelf? You get the idea.
3 Appeal to people in your genre – Provide something specific for them. Historical background / behind the scenes from your books / something that appeals to your readers. Western romance writers may have a cowboy themed letter. Others might have specific colors geared toward their genre.
4 Photos / visuals – anytime you use photos, engagement skyrockets by leaps and bounds. Make them, or use stock photos, or take your own photos. Bible verses, book covers, book quotes, family photos, pet photos. Anything related to you.
5 Something that shows your personality – It could be anything unique to you. Use your favorite colors. Here’s an example from Laurie Wood’s lead in to her newsletter. Becky Wade includes recipes from her sister. Many, many authors talk about vacations or life in general. Nadine Brandes and Laurie Wood talk about their writing research trips.
6 Spiritual messages or devotional thoughts: Laura Thomas does this often. So does Jennifer Rodewald, Rachael Hauck, Melissa Tagg. It’s whatever you want it to be. Something spiritual you’ve learned through writing, or through reading/devotions, etc.
7 A call for ARC readers, or to join launch teams – this is the best place to ask for people to join your team, to help launch your book. They’ve already taken the step to sign up for your newsletter, they must like you.
8 Photos of your latest books, with a brief blurb and buy links – most people need to see something 6 or 10 or more times for them to want to buy it. Newsletter platforms have templates that you can save, with all of these things already done for you (once you do it the first time – save it) so you don’t have to continue to input all this info every single time you sent out a letter.
9 Links to all your social media accounts – You want followers. Followers are good for your business, and if they follow you, they’ll be able to share your books on their social media accounts. Don’t make it hard for them to find you.
10 A lead magnet – Laura Thomas has one, Laurie Wood, Becky Wade, Hallee Bridgeman – so, so many others. Choosing what to use and creating one would require its own blog post though so I’ll leave that for another time.
11 A call to action – Ask them a specific question – something book related, or something fun – definitely something that has to do with your newsletter topic of the month. And encourage them to respond either to your e-mail or to your social media. Make sure your settings are set to accept e-mail responses because sometimes your platform requires you check a box. It can be coupled with a giveaway, or not. Either way, it’s a strategy to encourage more engagement with your subscribers.
Nadine Brandes does this all the time. Hallee Bridgeman as well. Olivia Rae. I just did one myself last month. I coupled mine with a giveaway, as does Hallee often. But others don’t.
12 A monthly (or quarterly?) giveaway – This is something that works for some, and doesn’t for others. It’s not required. Make it your own. I prefer doing seasonal giveaways and almost always digital. Many authors give out Amazon cards monthly. Olivia Rae does a mystery paperback giveaway each newsletter. Doing a giveaway as a lead magnet is also a good way to encourage readers to subscribe.
Including these things in your newsletters will help to both engage subscribers, and turn them into more than just fans. Your fan base can become like family the more you get to know them, and the more they are given opportunities to get to know you. So let them get to know who you are.
Now, on to newsletter-ing!
About Sara Beth Williams:
Sara Beth Williams is a wife, mother of two daughters, and temporary caretaker of a loveable old lady pit and a spunky Pomeranian. She lives in Northern California. When she’s not held hostage by the keyboard, she enjoys music, teaching, reading and spending time with her family. She is all about connecting with readers! Find heron Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Goodreads, and Bookbub.
Books by Sara Beth Williams: