May is Marketing Month on #RWchat! Our latest post combines newsletter advice collected by guest contributor Sofia Tate and #RWchat co-host Alexis Daria. And be sure to check out Robin Lovett’s earlier post, “Do I have to have a newsletter?“
At the LSFW conference in March, I attended the “Buzzing Your Book & Building Your Brand” workshop led by Liz Berry and Jillian Stein from 1001 Dark Nights. They had a ton of great advice on newsletters, and the session dispelled a lot of the fear I felt about starting one. On top of that, RT is going on this week, and Sofia Tate (author of the Davison & Allegra series) was kind enough to share her notes from the newsletter session led by Sarah Wendell (Smart Bitches, Trashy Books) and Mel Jolly (Author’s Atlas). I’ve combined our notes below to give you a double helping of tips and tricks to make your newsletter shine.
Start building your newsletter/email list as soon as you can. Like, TODAY. A newsletter is the best way to actively and proactively reach your readers, and they are more likely to interact with a newsletter than any other social media content.
Don’t feel bad about sending a newsletter to the people who signed up for it; your subscribers want to hear from you! You can look into services like MailChimp, Constant Contact, Vertical Response, etc. Not sure which one to use? Look at your favorite newsletters and see what they use, or ask your author friends about their newsletter experiences.
The number one place readers buy a book from is the back of a book they just finished. This is the same for newsletter sign-up. If you’re indie, include newsletter sign-up info at the beginning and end of the book. You can entice with a giveaway prize or free short story. And nowadays, most traditional publishers will allow you to include your info—at the very least your website—at the back of the book. Make sure you have the sign-up clearly placed on the homepage—in the header or footer, and also on your contact page.
The newsletter is about building relationships with your readers, so don’t only email about a new book release. Remember: You have your characters and your stories in your head. You’re the only one who can give your readers more content about them.
- Deleted scenes from your upcoming or current release
- “Slice of life” scenes showing characters from past books
- A second epilogue
- A scene or short story about a side character
This is your opportunity to provide your subscribers with exclusives. Make it special. Don’t be annoying. Give content. And it doesn’t have to be too often, especially if you’re just starting out. Once a month or once per quarter is fine. And don’t make it intimidating or too long. The less stressful, the better.
Readers want words. You’re the writer. Yes, it takes time, but you’re building your brand through your words.
- Links to your favorite things
- New releases
- Book recommendations
- Excerpts from your books
- Your hobbies
- Choose the easiest topics for you!
Take responsibility for the content in your newsletter & the “wow” factor. Keep in mind, most people open emails on devices. The first few words are key, like “exclusive free short story.” Liz and Jillian found the “special edition” newsletters get opened more than any other. But Sarah and Mel advise not to get hung up on unsubscribe numbers, and don’t sign up for daily updates from MailChimp.
When hosting giveaways to build your mailing list, use a Google form and have a required question: Would you like to subscribe to my newsletter? Answers: yes, no, already subscribed.
To build anticipation and boost subscribers, you can say on social media, “I’m going to do something special, so sign up for my newsletter before [day].” You could also make it fun by posting hints or clues on social media that cue readers in to go check the newsletter. Look at it this way: Marketing is similar to writing. How do you hook the reader? Be creative when considering how to hook with a newsletter.
- Don’t spam people or email without permission
- Don’t share your list with anyone
- Don’t use too many links or images or it’ll go to a spam folder
- Don’t break your promise to your subscribers. Remember it’s a privilege to have someone’s email address.
We wish you the best of luck in building your newsletter, and hope you’ll join us Sunday for #RWchat!
Sofia Tate is a proud writer of contemporary erotic romance & the author of the Davison & Allegra series for Forever Romance. (Photo credit: Katana Photography)
Golden Heart® finalist Alexis Daria’s debut contemporary romance will be released in 2017 from SMP Swerve. On Sunday evenings, Alexis co-hosts #RWchat, a weekly Twitter chat for romance writers. She also serves as PRO Liaison for the New York City chapter of RWA, and Municipal Liaison for the NYC region of National Novel Writing Month. She loves social media, and you can find her on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest, and follow her blog.