In a world where people’s email inboxes may be near bursting, we might think that contributing to the pile with a newsletter is a bad idea. In fact, newsletters are an extremely important and effective way for authors to communicate with their fans.
For one, spam-folder notwithstanding, a newsletter’s information will actually get in front of your readers, unlike social media. On Facebook, your posts are only going to be served up to a small percentage of your followers unless you pay for the privilege of more views. On Twitter, you’re likely going to have to tweet a link to a page with your information, so why not cut out the middleman and send the information directly? Also, tweets might get lost in the sea of other posts in a subscriber’s feed. That is far less likely in someone’s inbox.
Second, newsletters quick and easy. There are programs like MailChimp, which allows people to sign up for your newsletter and helps you lay the newsletter out.
Third, it’s relatively cheap. MailChimp allows you to send up to 12,000 emails/month to up to 2,000 subscribers completely free. Larger lists and more frequent mailings have monthly fees.
So, where to start? Here are five ways authors can craft the perfect newsletter:
Keep it Short
You already have books. This should not be one of them. Short attention spans have become a by-product of the Internet. Get the most important information to your readers and let them get back to whatever else they are doing. Also, put the most important information first so it’s visible before readers have to begin scrolling through the newsletter.
Contests are a quick way of gaining subscribers. Create a monthly drawing pulled from the subscriber list for prizes such as autographed books. Just don’t make it time-consuming for yourself. If it becomes a judged contest, for example, you’re likely going to find yourself buried under submissions that all need your personal attention.
Asking for feedback has two benefits. The first is the feedback itself. What do your fans like and dislike? If you see the same comment made over and over again, you might consider incorporating it into future projects. Or maybe a single person has a really good idea which you’ve just never thought of.
The second benefit is engagement. Keeping the reader involved helps to keep their attention. If they feel they are being listened to or are participating in some way, they are more likely to want more. Your newsletter will be something they look forward to rather than just being one more piece of email in their inbox.
Give Sneak Peaks
Since you’ve already written the material, this little benefit costs you no time at all. Let readers get a taste of what they can expect in an upcoming book. Not only does this keep them interested in the newsletter, but it also builds anticipation for the book.
Newsletters are a nice personal touch with which to stay in touch with fans, but putting a face and voice to your name is even better. Talk a little about yourself, upcoming projects, or any number of other things you might otherwise simply offer in text.
There are endless variations of what you can put in your newsletter. The most important thing is that you do one. Make sure you stay in the forefront of your fans’ minds, so when that next book comes out they are eagerly anticipating it.