Friday, July 15, 2016

The Art of the Newsletter

I have invited visitors to my website to subscribe to my newsletter. I have collected names and email addresses at book launch events. I have planned to go through my subscriber list and weed out the spammers who bothered to sign-in to leave me a message about working at home (presumably at some occupation other than writing) and to come up with a list of "real people".  I have thought about sending out a newsletter and mentally walked through the process. But I have yet to really send out an actual newsletter. This is a source of recurring embarrassment when someone asks to be added to my newsletter list.

So this month, I am going to send out my "July newsletter," to be followed by my "January newsletter." I should be able to handle that, two newsletters per year.

The question is what should go into an author's newsletter. I am on the subscriber lists of a number of other authors. I'm not sure how I got on all of them, but I find it useful to see what other authors are doing. I enjoy hearing about new books and upcoming events, but I especially like the newsletters that provide something extra. Those newsletters remind me of the newsletter that my real estate agent sends out by snail mail to past and current clients. His newsletter is several pages of homeowner tips, health information, quizzes, polls, and a monthly contest. I don't read all of every newsletter, but I do glance through quickly. And I appreciate the fact that he is taking the time to maintain contact. That's the kind of newsletter I want to do.

In preparation for my first newsletter, I've been searching the Internet for tips and "best practices". Mentioned more than once:
1. Offer information of value.
2. The newsletter should be in keeping with your author brand.
3.Offer subscribers "bonuses" that they cannot find on your website.
4. Use visuals (e.g., photos and sidebars).
5. Content that works well includes: a feature article about book-related topic; your interview of another author; a new book trailer; your to be read (TBR) list; a book review.

I intend to do a feature article about the research I did for my last book that ended up "on the cutting room floor" because it turned out to be irrelevant. I have some photos that will work well. I can probably come up with information for a sidebar. And I'll share information about my current projects.

Anyone else do an author's newsletter? What do you include? Have you encountered any problems?


Judy Penz Sheluk, author said...

I do a newsletter through MailChimp (did 2 last year), which is free for the first 2000 subscribers and I am nowhere near that. If you sign up, I'll send you the last one July 2016. Initially I was going to do 3 a year on a schedule, but now I'm going to do one when I have enough to share. What people like: photos, stuff they won't find on your FB page or website (I do a Facts in Fiction piece), recipes (when applicable to your books). I have not found giveaways to be effective. Of course include your author news. This last time I included a Table of Contents and that got some positive feedback. My open rate is well above the industry average (About 75%) and I get several clicks. So far I have only had 1 person unsubscribe.

Sybil Johnson said...

I have an author newsletter that I send out when I have news to share. I recently added an "Ask Sybil" section where I answer questions and a "Painting Tip" section where I give a painting tip I've either heard in a class or seen on the web. (Since my books are set in the world of tole/decorative painting.)

Frankie Y. Bailey said...

Thanks, Judy and Sybil! Good to hear about what works.

I'm debating MailChimp. I know lots of people like, but my webmaster built in capacity to send a newsletter from my website.

Sybil Johnson said...

I use MailChimp, mostly because it takes care of all the SPAM rules that went into effect a few years ago.

Frankie Y. Bailey said...

Thanks, Sybil. That's a really good reason to use.