What Authors Should Write About in a Newsletter
Newsletters are - hands down - one of the most valuable assets to a successful book marketing campaign. I refer to newsletter subscribers as being one step away from a purchase. They are they people who are most likely to buy your book when it becomes available.
When we focus on growing our newsletter list, we are focusing on creating a solid audience of our ideal readers. This group of people are so much more reliable than social media followers because they have entrusted you with a very personal thing: their email address.
You don’t give your email address to just anyone - you give it to people who you actually want to hear more from.
I’ve heard every argument under the sun from authors who resist the idea of starting a newsletter. Here are some of the biggest arguments I’ve heard and how I respond.
I don’t want to bother people with a newsletter.
You aren’t bothering people when they have signed up for your newsletter, which is them saying they want to hear from you.
I don’t have time to write a newsletter!
If there is one thing you should make time for, it’s writing a newsletter. It doesn’t have to be time consuming and what you send out doesn’t need to be that long. I’ll give you some pointers later on in this post...
I don’t want to annoy my readers.
If you only send them emails trying to sell them your book, yes, that would be annoying. But staying in touch with readers with content that interests them or speaks to a need you know they have is not annoying - it’s helpful to them.
I haven’t sent a newsletter in six months - they don’t want to hear from me now.
Not necessarily. They are free to unsubscribe, but I think you would be surprised at how many readers stay with you even after they haven’t received anything from you in awhile.
Why send a newsletter when people just unsubscribe?
When people unsubscribe from your newsletter, it’s actually a good thing. You’re narrowing down who is really interested with those who are mere observers. This will clearly show who your true fans are.
I’ve heard it all. And I get it! When we first started Mixtus Media, I put off starting a newsletter because I had those same thoughts running through my head.
But here’s the thing: a newsletter is one of the most important assets in your book marketing plan.
Why? Because, unlike with your social media accounts, you actually have full control of both your subscribers’ contact information, AND the way they get your content and how it looks.
Think about it this way:
SOCIAL MEDIA = THE CONNECTION:
This is how you’re introduced to new readers, create conversations, and generate interest in you, your writing, and books.
BLOG = INFORMATION:
Providing content that speaks directly to your ideal reader is how you provide value, which helps you develop trust.
NEWSLETTERS = CAPTIVE AUDIENCE:
You have their attention - subscribers want to hear more from you. They are one step closer to a sale. This is where you have your readers take action.
So you need to treat your subscribers like gold! And one of the ways you can do this is through the content you share.
Most people use their newsletter to share events or updates, which you obviously have to do. But when that’s the only thing you use your newsletter for, you’re missing out on a great opportunity.
There needs to be intention behind your newsletter. Sending a newsletter to fulfill a quota won’t cut it - you need a plan and a process.
Before we jump into how to create content for your newsletter, I need to mention these important factors:
Your newsletter doesn’t have to be long…at all. Aim for 300-500 words.
Focus on quality over quantity. If you don’t think you can create high-quality weekly newsletters, try one or two newsletters per month.
Consistency is KEY! You’re not bugging readers by sending them a weekly newsletter if you are providing content that really speaks to them.
Keep an eye on your open rate. If you use services like MailChimp, they have averages for what industry you're in. If your open rate is low compared to others in your space, consider switching things up a bit.
Getting Started With Your Newsletter
First off, you need to ask yourself:
Am I focused on my ideal reader?
If you look at any of our blog posts, more often than not you will see this as the first point. Because everything is based on your readers! When you create content that focuses on your ideal reader and come at it from their perspective, it will completely change your newsletter.
So think about the person you’re writing for. What are they interested in? Why are they drawn to in your writing? What sparks their interests?
**If you’re having a hard time nailing down or figuring out who your ideal reader is, sign up to be notified when our new resources will be available to help you with this.
What action do I want my readers to take?
This is where we need to be intentional. Think of the process you want them to go through. Do you want them to read a new blog post? Attend an event? Enter a giveaway? Watch an interview? Pre-order your book? Leave a review on Amazon? When you know what action your readers need to take, you’ll be able to craft a newsletter that centers around that.
Which marketing phase am I in: attraction, promotion, or follow-up?
This is important to keep in mind because it helps you provide context for your newsletter. If you’re in the attraction phase, you’ll focus on providing more “get to know you” material. It’s a little more laid-back. But if you’re in the promotional phase, you’ll be focused more on pre-orders, asking for reviews, coordinating giveaways, and promoting your book. Click here to read my post on the three phases of marketing.
How does this provide value?
Like I’ve already said, it’s about quality over quantity. Come at this from your ideal reader’s point of view - does this speak to them and their interests? Does it create more interest and anticipation for your books?
Now that you’ve considered these questions, let’s focus on how you can create great content for your newsletter.
Create a Content Outline
This is a brain-dump of all the topics, resources, and ideas that you might have floating around in your head.
Think about the newsletters you subscribe to - what do they provide that you find interesting? What made you subscribe?
Now think about your ideal reader - what common interests do you share? What topics peak their interest? What do you want to share with them?
Set a timer for 10 minutes and challenge yourself to write down at least 25 different content ideas that center around these questions.
Plan and Schedule
Take a piece of paper and write down the months of the year, leaving enough space between months to jot information down.
Think of key dates - like when your book will release, book signings, events, seasonal topics, and other important dates that you want to promote. Record that information under the appropriate month.
Next take the list of content ideas that you came up with and pick the top 12 ideas. Pick one idea per month and your schedule will fill up very easily.
If you want to take a different approach, you can create a monthly theme or focus topic. For example, January might focus on one of your hobbies. In February you could talk about a new character you’re working on, and so on.
I can’t emphasize this enough - if you just wing it, you’re more likely to feel overwhelmed, and ultimately you won’t see the results you’re looking for. So creating your plan and schedule helps save you time+energy, and keeps your marketing on track.
You can create short segments to drive your readers exactly where you want them to go. Gabby Bernstein does a great job at this with her newsletter. She has three short sections:
The first section is adding value and giving something that speaks directly to her ideal reader.
The second section promotes her book, product, free download, or something else she wants to promote.
And the third section drives attention to where she will be appearing next.
This is a great way to drive readers to action, keep the information less overwhelming, and stay engaged.
Share a Video
Video is the best way to make people click and take action. You can use it as a part of your blog, share some behind-the-scenes peeks, etc.
In the following example, Hillary Rushford created a short introduction to get her readers to click and watch her video. A simple video using your smartphone will do just fine.
This is one of my favorite ways to add value and draw attention to others. If you have a fellow author, service, or resource you love and think your ideal reader will respond to, share it on your newsletter!
Curating content takes the pressure off of you from having to create new content all the time. Plus, connecting with other audiences is a good way to expand your reach.
Share Relatable Stories
Here’s the biggest thing to remember - be you! Let your personality shine in your newsletter. One of the best ways is to share stories and situations that others can connect with.
It makes you relatable and endearing.
Share Your Blog Posts
Your newsletter is a great way to drive people to your blog. You don’t necessarily need to create additional content when it comes to your newsletter. Your newsletter can be a short write-up or video creating interest in what you blogged about.
One tip: I would suggest not having your blog automatically send a post to your newsletter subscribers (or your social media accounts). Making sure that you have a “clickable” or interesting subject line is what will get people to actually open your email. Treating your newsletter subject line more like a news headline instead of the topic of your email is the best way to grab their attention as they browse their inbox.
As far as the body of the email, creating a short, personable message goes a long way. Just a little extra effort creates a more personal feel which helps make a stronger connection, compared to using the blog’s excerpt text.
Plus, having people click a link to read the actual blog post on your website helps your link traffic, which increases your online visibility with search engines. So don’t email them the whole blog post to read. Many people don’t want to read a ton of text in their email app anyway…
Something I would encourage you to do is sign up for some other people’s newsletters to see what they are doing - especially outside of the book/publishing world. It’s more about being inspired than mimicking them. Expanding your horizons equips you to create an even better experience for your readers.
Creating compelling content for your newsletter doesn’t need to take long - it just takes a little bit of planning and forethought. Hopefully these tips are helpful as you work on your email marketing campaigns. Please let me know in the comments and on social media!
*Some of this content was taken from a previously published blog post