As an author you have many tools for promoting your work, from social media, to blogs, to live events. But one of the most effective tools is a newsletter. A newsletter is a direct link to your fan base. Unfortunately, you have little to no control over other mediums such as social media. Only a very small fraction of folks see your Facebook posts unless you pay to boost them. Twitter is busy and it’s easy to get lost in the noise. Instagram is better but becoming more crowded every day. With a newsletter you know precisely who’s receiving your updates and exactly what they are responding to, based on the links they click. In other words, you are in control.
So if it’s that easy, why isn’t everyone doing newsletter marketing? The truth is, anyone can start a newsletter but unfortunately most produce lackluster results. Below is a strategy checklist to help you beat the odds.
- Target Market – You cannot be everything to everybody. Start with a little analysis to decide who you’ll be speaking to, then focus your marketing messages to that group(s). Do you write environmentally themed picture books full of STEAM opportunities and want to reach elementary teachers? Do you write teenage romance and want to reach females between the ages of 13-17? Perhaps you specialize in board books and need to focus on moms with preschool aged children. Once you know who you’re speaking to, move on to point two.
Tip: telling subscribers all about your next book only works once, then it’s old news. Focus on your readers’ needs, not your goal to sell more copies.
- Pain Points – Every target market has needs or pain points. Teachers have a daunting amount of information to squeeze into their lesson plans. If your newsletter (and books) can help them do that, you are an ally worthy of their email address. Busy moms of preschoolers are juggling their household, work, siblings, dinner… Can you help them find ways to lighten the load that tie into your books? Spend more quality time with their family? If you can, then you are worthy of their email.
- Structure – Make a list of at least twenty five ideas for information you can deliver to your target market that relieves a pain point or solves a need. Why twenty five? Because 101 is overdone and frankly you don’t need that many. But you do need a queue of developed ideas ready to go. Next decided how you will organize the information. For example, in my newsletters I offer my subscribers a) something of value to them, b) something free, c) something to make them laugh.
- Timing – Review your idealist to determine how much content you truly have. Maybe you were easily able to come up with a list of 101 ideas. If so, perhaps you can deliver a quality newsletter once a month. But if you’re like the rest of us, and that twenty five goal was a challenge, try a quarterly newsletter that’s packed with concise valuable information.
Tip: The #1 rule for newsletters – don’t send out a news letter unless you have something to say. The quickest way to send readers searching for the unsubscribe link is to clutter their inbox with dull information not targeted directly at them.
- Calendar – Before you hit send on your first newsletter issue, sketch out an annual calendar. If you can’t outline what you’ll be writing about for at least six months then go back to the first bullet point. Perhaps you can ponder your target market(s) and their needs a little longer.
- Platform – What’s the best newsletter platform on the market? Is it Mailchimp? Constant Contact? The free newsletter tool provided by your web hosting company? That depends on your needs and it’s a topic we’ll explore in another article soon!
- Newsletters 101 with Nanette Heffernan – AskWin Podcast: 30 min
- Kidlit411 – Scroll Down to “Email Lists” – super helpful, list of articles
- 9 Reasons Authors Need Newsletters – Article: Still not convinced? This article gives even more reasons you need a newsletter
- 10 Ways to Build Your Subscriber List Before Your Book Comes Out – Article: Full of tips to get your subscriber list going!
- Email Marketing Benchmarks by Mailchimp – Article: Great stats to compare how your newsletter does versus industry standards.
Nanette, thank you for sharing your thoughts regarding newsletters. There is a wealth of helpful information here, also I’m grateful to be on your list!
You are most welcome Annelouise! Make sure you let me know if you start a newsletter, I’d love to subscribe and help you get other followers. And if you need newsletter ideas feel free to post a question to the Authors Posse Facebook page, that’s what the group is for.
Thanks so much for this timely and informative post. I’m in the process of developing a quarterly newsletter and hope to send my first out in September.
You’re welcome! I really do think a quarterly newsletter is the way to go when you are getting started. It’s a lot pressure to develop a quality monthly newsletter. The same goes for blog posts, which is why so many blogs die after a short time. Better to start with a slow solid build than a fireworks show that’s over before it’s time.