An email list of subscribers who love your work is an extremely valuable, long-term asset you can use for years to promote your books, increase sales, build your authority in your niche and develop a real connection with your readers.
Instead of sending social media posts about your latest release, sharing the news with engaged subscribers on an email list can help your books to become instant bestsellers.
What three things are you trying to achieve by sending out a newsletter to the subscribers who have joined your email list?
- Build a relationship with readers,
- Offer them special promotions and giveaways
- Offer them some bonus in exchange for their support when your next book launches.
In other words – it is ALL about the subscribers and what they want and expect from you.
So how can you leverage the power of your author newsletter?
Most readers are thinking and asking: What’s in it for me? Why should I take the time to open this email?
You display authority in your customer’s eyes when you demonstrate that you have a deep and practical understanding of their needs and desires, based on your own personal experience.
Think of your email newsletter as the equivalent of a one to one conversation that you have with someone who you are meeting in person.
1. Deliver on what you promised
When someone subscribed to your email list you may have offered them a welcome gift in the form of a free digital product, or some kind of giveaway in exchange for their contact details.
If you promised your subscriber updates about new releases then share the journey you are going on to develop your latest project, so that they are excited to see your cover reveal and ready to support you when your book is released.
Offer them an exclusive advanced extract – just for subscribers.
Invite them to join the launch team and become a beta-reader for your next book. Ask your reader to leave a book review in exchange for a free advance copy and share the news about the launch.
2. Offers, freebies, contests and giveaways
Offering free and discounted books and physical products or services can create a big increase in your email subscribers. Take care to engage with these new subscribers and make sure that you are offering them real education and information from the start.
Always make sure that your existing subscribers don’t feel left out and offer them some free books or other giveaway.
3. Be consistent
If you promised that you would send out a weekly or monthly newsletter, then you have to make the commitment to sending that email on time.
You are going to get a lot of un-subscribers if you only send out a single email every few months when your new book is released and nothing in between. All pitch, pitch, pitch. Buy my book, buy my book. That is a very one sided conversation.
Decide on how often you are going to email out your author newsletter and then stick to that schedule.
4. Be human and authentic
You want to make your reader looks forward to hearing from you.
One of the most effective ways of doing this is by sharing your own personal life story. It does not have to be a “zero to hero” story where you list impressive numbers and achievements.
In fact it can be better for the reader to empathise and sympathise with you if they recognise that you are someone who struggles with and has overcome the same challenges as they have in their life.
We all make mistakes. Have fun with it and share anecdotes and stories when things did not go to plan.
5. Be positive and inspirational if you can
There is enough negativity in the world without your readers having to read about it in your emails.
Imagine that you are a published author and you meet a reader at a conference and they start chatting in a friendly manner over coffee and they ask you what you are up to lately.
You pull out a sales brochure or publishing catalogue and start reading out the book descriptions and reviews from your entire back catalogue.
Then you start rambling on about the state of the publishing industry in general and all your woes and how much you hate publicity and having to do promotions. In fact you are so fed up with having to write so much to make a living and how miserable you are, that you are thinking of going back to the “day job”.
You smile and laugh and say that you having the best time. People are so generous. You have been amazed about how well your last book was received. And the reviews are so kind.
It is really encouraging and you cannot wait to get started on the next book in the series which is about:
Nonfiction option: how to help people who struggle with a particular challenge in their lives.
Fiction option: meeting up with your favourite characters again, and find out what has been happing in their lives. You cannot wait to get started.
Which option do you think your ideal reader wants to listen to and read?
6. Don’t repeat what you have just said on social media.
Social media has its place in any author platform but it cannot replace the one to one connection that comes from sending a personal email to your subscribers and engaging them in conversation.
Subscribers want to know more than just your blog and publishing schedule. They have subscribed to receive information that they cannot find on social media or your blog or website. They want to connect with you as a person.
Be creative and share fun content that relates to you and your book and connects with your readers on a more personal level.
For example; what books are you reading at the moment, or a review of a movie that you enjoyed. Tell an anecdote about something that happened to you in real life and your reaction and learning experience. If you keep it light hearted and fun, the readers will look forward to receiving your emails.
Many authors are reluctant to share photos of their private home on social media but will do so in a newsletter, including images of their family and pets, holiday moments and their personal bookshelves.
7. Share exclusive insights into your life and your work
What are you working on right now?
What is your working process?
Are you someone who thrives on chaos and noise and loves to work in a busy coffee shop? Or perhaps you are the exact opposite. You need a calm and quiet space, free of distractions, before you can engage in any sort of creative thinking.
Share that with the readers and let them know if you have an image gallery, music playlist or a special screensaver that instantly takes your back into the world of your book, whether fiction or non-fiction.
Don’t forget to share news about other projects and public events, conferences, guest posting, podcasts interviews and media presentations.
8. Always include one specific action that your reader should take in every email.
This “Call to Action” could be as simple as a link to your latest blog post or podcast interview, or a link to the sales page for your latest release.
Always ask your readers to reply to your emails.
A one-way conversation is boring. At the end of every email newsletter, pose at least one question. It could be related to the topic of your book or about the genre of your work in general.
If you have posted about a specific piece of research that you have carried out, such as a setting for a novel or a new gluten-free cooking regime, then ask if they enjoyed hearing about this subject. Do they have any ideas for other topics?
Surveys and polls.
Ask your readers what they like and would like to see more of. Then deliver it! You can use SurveyMonkey or other free online survey forms and integrate them into the email. Be sure to come back to your subscribers in a later newsletter and share the results of the survey. If there is a particularly interesting reply, answer the subscriber with a personal email.
9. Think about the medium
Many readers will scan their emails on their mobile phones when they can snatch a few precious minutes in their daily life.
- We are all busy and expect emails to be short and to the point. Not rambling essays which are not mobile friendly.
- Long text emails which appear very “dense” and difficult to navigate will not be opened.
- Use an appealing subject line which encourages your reader to open the email.
- Break your email up into sections with scannable headings and subheadings and one or two images.
- Add a summary of your key information in the last paragraph with the specific “Call to Action” you want your reader to take after reading the email.
10. Consider using images and video
In most cases you want the option to have an image of your book cover in your newsletter and possibly in the header of your email.
If you are working in a very visual medium such as beauty and fashion, or the food and beverage industry, then your newsletter will have lots of images and could be in a magazine format, with multiple columns which will appeal to your particular audience.
On the other hand, if you a non-fiction author specialising in a technical subject your readers may prefer a brief text based email with a very simple layout and lots of links to additional resources and infographics.
You can embed a video inside your email, but if you want to include a video in your newsletter, it is better to add an Image to the email and then hyperlink that image to the web address of a video which is hosted on another site such as YouTube or a video service such as Vimeo or Wistia etc. That keeps your email “clean” and easy to read.
Don’t underestimate the power of a simple newsletter. It can seriously grow your business.
Building an email list of engaged subscribers has never been more important.
Your email list is an asset which you have control over and can retain and nurture for the long term. Not a six-second video clip.
The only limit to your content is your own creativity.
This is why a simple newsletter is one of the best ways to grow a long-term career as an author and build the community and culture of your brand.