Designing an author newsletter can be a daunting task. Whether you‘re a seasoned veteran or a first–time author, it‘s important to create an effective newsletter to nurture the author/reader relationship and expand your audience.
Ready to roll up your sleeves and dive in? Cool. Let’s do this.
A simple design works best. As JSB mentioned in the comments of Part I, many of us suffer from newsletter fatigue, so don’t confuse readers by adding more than a few key features. A minimalist style keeps the focus on the content.
Email services like MailerLite or MailChimp offer multiple templates that don’t require any tech skills to customize. Most are drag & drop.
A high-quality header image sets the tone for your newsletter. I use the same header as my website, so readers instantly recognize the email is from me.
If your headline allows the reader to think, “Meh. I’ll read it later” chances are they’ll never get around to reading the newsletter. An irresistible headline encourages the reader to open your email as soon as it hits their inbox. Headlines aren’t easy. I still haven’t mastered them, but I have learned a few tricks.
- Make readers feel like they’ll learn something. Example: How to Decipher Crow Language
- Or focus on actionable steps. Example: Befriend Crows in 5 Easy Steps
- Or solve a problem. Example: 6 Ways to Spend Less Money on Crows (if any of you ever receive an email with this headline, please forward it to me. LOL)
Once you have your header image and headline, it’s time to focus on your content.
As I mentioned in Part I, give more than you receive. The majority of your newsletters should not ask your audience to buy anything. Condition them to click links, yes, but not a purchase link. For example, to match one of the above headlines, I could include a link to a live feed of crows building a new nest. Which, by the way, often includes weaving metal wires into the base to strengthen the foundation.
By giving more than you receive, you build trust. After all, you wouldn’t shove your book(s) in the face of someone you just met in person. Correct? Same principles apply.
The content should be concise, focused, and relevant to your theme. For a refresher on theme, read Part I. One of the easiest ways to lose subscribers is to overwhelm readers with too much information. No one will take the time to read a lengthy newsletter. Instead, fulfill the promise in your headline. Nothing more, nothing less. If you have more to say on the subject, save it for next time. The perfect length for a newsletter, so it’s worth your readers’ time but not time-consuming, is about 3-4 paragraphs.
Call To Action
At the end of your newsletter, include a clickable call-to-action button with compelling language like “Watch Live Feed” or “Download Free Book.” One of my favorite calls-to-action is “Hit Reply.”
Before the CTA, I ask a question. A few examples are:
- Tell me about your favorite childhood pet.
- Have you ever seen a bald eagle up close? What about a golden eagle? What was that experience like for you?
- Have you ever been whale watching? How’d you feel when the whale breeched?
Note the words in bold. When you ask readers to hit reply, you are initiating a friendly conversation. Not only do you get to know your readers but you’re nurturing the author/reader relationship. And you’d be surprised how much people appreciate an author asking them anything, even if it’s only, “How’s your day going? You doin’ all right today?”
Too many authors toss out orders without giving two sh*ts about the people who read their books. Things like, buy my books, review my books, tell all your friends about my books, preorder my new release, follow me on every social media site and share all my posts. I saw your review on Amazon, but why didn’t you also review on BookBub and Goodreads and B&N and Apple and Google Play and Kobo?
Sadly, I’m not exaggerating as much as one might think. Not long ago, I unsubscribed from a well-known author’s newsletter after she told me to buy two copies of her new book, one for me and one for a friend. Seriously? I don’t care who you are. I’m not buying two $20 paperbacks because Miss Bigshot Author ordered me to do it. In fact, I stopped reading her books altogether. I’d rather support authors who appreciate their readers. How ’bout you?
Another author messaged me on social media to tell me she thanked me for my help in the acknowledgments, then had the audacity to say, “Buy the book to see your name.” If that wasn’t bad enough, she then asked if I could buy it that second — not later that night or in the morning — I had to buy the book right then. And, get this, send her a screenshot of the confirmation page as proof of purchase! The nerve of some people.
By asking a simple question at the end of my newsletter, I’ve received some truly heartwarming responses. Readers just want to know they’re more than a sale to us. They want to be seen. Don’t we all? So, be genuine, be kind, and show your humanity.
Okie doke. Well, since we didn’t get to onboarding sequences and other time-savers, stay tuned for Part III.
Restless Mayhem is available at all online retailers.