You’ve probably heard the common advice that as a published writer you need to have a mailing list or a newsletter. (For a writer’s purpose, they’re essentially the same thing – a list of people that have voluntarily given you their email address so they can receive emails from you.)
Starting a newsletter sounds like a scary prospect. Newsletters used to be printed publications, filled with articles and ads, that had to be assembled each month and mailed on time. Sounds like a lot of work, doesn’t it? Having published my share of newsletters in the past, I can tell you they were.
It’s different today though. With Internet technologies, email and mailing list software, it is surprisingly easy to create and send a newsletter. The main point to keep in mind is WHY you’re sending a newsletter. And to figure that out, we need to focus on who is getting your newsletter and what they want from it.
Put On Your Reader Shoes
Step out of your writer shoes and into your reader shoes for a minute. As a reader, what do you want in a newsletter?
- Information about new books from your favorite authors
- Details on where you can connect with your favorite authors (book-signings, blog tours, social media sites)
- Behind-the-scenes info on your favorite books
- Referrals for great books to read
That all sounds reasonable, right? Nothing too extravagant there. As a reader you mainly want great stories and info about where to get more great stories.
Back Into Your Writer Shoes
As a writer, you can easily give your readers those things in a newsletter.
Information about new books
When you have the details of your next release, share them with your readers. Give them something to look forward to. As the date draws near, remind them about the release and give them info on where they can purchase it. You can also give them details on any release celebrations, specials or giveaways that you’re holding.
Details on where they can connect with you
If you’re active on any social media sites, have you mentioned them in your newsletter? Let your readers know what kind of information you share on the social media sites.
If you’re doing a blog tour or book signings for a new release, let your readers know in advance via your newsletter. Include the schedule and links to the sites or locations where you’ll be appearing.
If you’re participating in any kind of event on-line or off-line, tell your readers about it.
Behind-the-scenes info on your books
If readers have fallen in love with the characters or the world that you’ve created, they’ll enjoy short stories or character portraits that give them even more insights into your creations.
Share the character or location pictures you used for inspiration. Give the unknown details about a character’s life, like why she wears only a certain kind of perfume. Or why he thinks thunder is the sound of freedom.
Write a short story about a key moment from a character’s life. If it’s too long for the newsletter, provide a link to where it’s located on your website.
Referrals for great books to read
Have you read any great books in your genre lately? Tell your readers about them. It’s good karma for you to promote other writers. And it gives your readers something fantastic to read while you’re working on your next book.
But My Newsletter Will Be 10 Pages Long…
You don’t have to include all of these things in each newsletter. Nobody has time to read long emails. Keeping your newsletter short and relevant will keep your readers reading it and not just setting it aside for later.
If you’re between books, give your readers the latest information on your book releases and then include one other special item, like a referral to another book in your genre that you loved.
If you’re preparing for your release and have a lot of events going on, share them all, so your readers are fully informed.
If you’re in doubt about what to put in your newsletter, remember to look at it from the reader’s perspective. What would benefit them the most? What would they like to know?
You can’t go wrong with that.
As a reader, what do you like to see in an author’s newsletter? As a writer, what have you included that your readers really liked?