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Authors, Why You Should Start a Newsletter

| Posted in Book Marketing |

17

newsletterYour books are published, you’re building a social media presence, and you’ve got an official author website and/or blog. You’re rocking it! But…do you have a newsletter?

I know what you’re thinking:

What? More book promotion I have to do? When will I have time to write the next book??

But keep reading. It’s worth starting a newsletter, and it needn’t be a big time investment.

First off, what is a newsletter exactly?

Glad you asked. A newsletter is when you add a form to your website (or blog) where visitors can sign up (opt in), thus agreeing to receive periodic email messages from you. Their names and email addresses are compiled into a mailing list, and you can then “broadcast” a message to your entire list at once.

What you write in those newsletters is up to you. If you’re an author, the people who sign up are going to be fans, probably fans who’ve read many of your books and enjoyed them enough to hunt down your website and give you their email addresses.

Think of your newsletter subscribers as your inner circle. What cool things can you do to reward them for being fans?

At the very least, you can let them be among the first to know when you have a new book coming out. Maybe you can even give them coupons for discounts or let them take advantage of a low initial ebook price (i.e. you might sell your novel at $2.99 for the first couple of weeks before raising the price to $4.99).

I haven’t had my newsletter going for very long, but I’ve been trying to send out a note once a month. If I’m releasing a new ebook that month, the subject of the email is a no-brainer. In June, I released Dark Currents and sent my subscribers a Smashwords coupon to download it for free (a lot of them bought it at Amazon or Barnes & Noble anyway). This was nice for them, and it also helped me get some early reviews of the book.

I’ve also given away other people’s ebooks for free (in July, I asked a couple of other indie fantasy authors to give me Smashwords coupons — a way to help promote their books to my readers — and I sent those out to my subscribers). In September, I’m planning to do a giveaway, since I should have paperbacks of The Emperor’s Edge and Dark Currents ready to go by then. I can’t wait to sign some copies and send them off to folks.

What’s in it for you?

Okay, you’re thinking, you could start a newsletter, and you could give things away, but why? How is that helping you sell books if you’re just writing to people who are already fans?

First off, as I mentioned, a newsletter is a way to let your core fans know when you have a new book out. More than that, having the emails of hundreds of readers can give you the power to get a bunch of people buying your new releases at once.

Authors more popular than I am (hey, maybe I’ll be there someday!) have used their newsletter subscribers to shoot their latest books to the tops of the bestseller lists at Amazon. This gets their books noticed by lots of other people (who aren’t newsletter subscribers and just happen to browse the bestseller charts, looking for new books to try). I’ve heard it’s nice up there at the top of those lists. 😉

Sending newsletters out to your fans is also a way to keep your name in their minds, something that can be especially useful if you’re not the most prolific writer. They’ll probably be more likely to recommend your books to friends if you’re able to stay on their radar. Otherwise, they might forget all about you in the interim between publications. And if they forget about you, they won’t remember to keep an eye out for future books from you.

Always remember, it’s easier to sell to an existing fan than to convince a new reader to try your work.

I’ll cover how to start a newsletter in a future post. In the meantime, please let us know if you’ve started one of your own or if you’re planning to soon.

Update: How to Add a Newsletter to Your Blog or Website

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Comments (17)

I know this works just as you say because I’m one of your email subscribers and I’ve downloaded those free stories from you and the other authors. I’ve already written my reviews for them and published them to Amazon. And, of course, I bought the sequel to one of them, “Hunted,” (the sequel to “Flash Gold”).

This is exactly what John Locke says to do in his new book on how he sold 1 million ebooks super fast. It’s all about getting your absolute fans, the ones who will buy whatever you write, to have exclusive access to what you, as the author, have to put out there for them, because the books are for them, after all.

So, you’re well on your way, Lindsay!

Thanks for being a subscriber and reviewer, Cathy!

I can’t believe some of my favorite authors don’t have newsletters. I’m also surprised Amazon doesn’t have some kind of “click here to be notified when this author has a new book out” deal. I guess you’re just supposed to check Amazon every day to see if something new and good is out. *g*

Oh, mind-reader!

Perfect timing for me. You know what I’ve been doing lately in relation to my eBook, and with the updates to sites and such I was seriously thinking of doing a newsletter – now I just need to get one created!

thanks for a great post. I’ve been toying with the idea of a newsletter.

I like newsletters because they keep me from forgetting about books I’m excited about. I know that sounds weird, because if I’m excited about a book, why would I forget? Well, I read a lot, so I am excited about lots of books I’m expecting, and the books I’m reading, and the books that are out but in the to-read pile.
I can’t tell you how many time’s I’ve read about an upcoming book in a newsletter or tweet or fb message and was like, “Omg! Thats coming out NEXT MONTH?!” And then there’s a tiny party of one happening in front of my computer(or phone). With dancing. And then me pre-ordering, if possible.
Your fans that read voraciously have a lot of irons in the fire! That can make us flighty creatures. Please remind us, so we don’t inadvertently abandon your books.
Also, some authors put in little samples of what they’re working on, or little Q&As about their characters and other nuggets of goodness that make me swoooon.

Haha, party of one!

“some authors put in little samples of what they’re working on, or little Q&As about their characters and other nuggets of goodness that make me swoooon.”

Hm, now there’s an idea… 😉

A news-letter is something we’ve been toying with the idea of for some while (not least because of receiving yours!) and will be taking the plunge shortly.

Just back from a month’s travelling and disrupted net access, so a backlog of E-Book Endeavors posts to catch up on first!

Glad you survived your travels, Mark! I hope to do some of my own this fall. 🙂

Lindsay,

What is a good rule of thumb on periodicity? Monthly? Quarterly? Weekly? It’s a good idea to keep everyone updated, but you don’t want to bomb their inbox either. What do you think?

I’d think monthly or quarterly would be good, Paul. Weekly might be a little much. Just how much great news is an author likely to have every week? It takes us a long time to write those novels, hah.

Great post. I’ve been toying with the idea for a long time. Need to just suck it up and do it!

What about the tecnical side of it? I see on your site you have a signup on the sidebar. How would someone add that to their site? Etc.

-JB

Thanks, Jim!

I’m going to do a follow-up post that lists some of the services out there (whatever one you sign up for will probably have a wizard that creates a chunk of code for you to paste into your site). I use Aweber, but only because I have other mailing lists there for work (it’s $15+ a month). I know there are some free services out there, so I’ll look for those and mention them in the post.

Hi Lindsay, I saw this post because somebody retweeted the link. I have to say I respectfully disagree. When I see a newsletter in my inbox, I typically think, “selling,” and “overkill.”

If people subscribe to my blog, I think that’s as much as they need to hear about me. A blog community feels like a coffee klatch. Newsletters feel like advertising flyers. But if a writer doesn’t have a blog, I’d say do the newsletter, I guess. What do you think?

Hi Lynne,

You’re welcome to disagree. 🙂

I’d argue that some people a) don’t know how to subscribe to blogs and/or aren’t interested in subscribing or b) subscribe to so many blogs that it’s easy for yours to get lost in the mix. I’m in the second half myself, and, honestly, I hardly check any blogs any more unless I’m visiting because someone left a comment on one of my posts. But I look at every piece of email that comes into my box.

I’ve certainly had experiences with spammy newsletters, and it irritates me to no end when these a) don’t have an unsubscribe link in them and b) aren’t something I signed up for (sorry, I’m into a) and b) points today!).

I’d only recommend starting a newsletter where people opt-in to receive it. That way you know nobody is going to sign up who doesn’t want to hear for you. After that, it’s up to you whether or not it’ll have a spammy feel. If all you ever do is try to sell your stuff to your subscribers, then, yes, it’ll feel like that. But if you have contests or give away cool stuff or send actual news and just send sales-orientated notes when you have a new release out it probably won’t set off anyone’s spam-o-meter.

The way you describe it, it almost sounds like fun. Thanks, Lindsay.

I’ve been trying to find the right dang WP widget. I do keep an email list on gmail, but I could do better. Thanks for the kick in the patootie.

I’ve been reading Locke’s book. Will read some more of it while I get the oil changed in the car today.

I just added the newsletter function to my blog this week. I was totally stuck on how to do this until someone pointed me to google friend connect. It’s as simple as inserting some html. Super, super easy and great functionality. Definitely recommended, especially if you’re already on gmail.

I knew I had to find some way of doing a newsletter because I know a lot of people who really want to read my book (if and when it sells) but wouldn’t necessarily visit my blog every day or subscribe. And I really didn’t want to go around collecting email addresses!

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