I’ve written so much email content on this site, but I haven’t FULLY explored creating an author newsletter. WHAT! Well, it’s time to get after it.
- If you want to check out the post directly before this one and related to it, go read AUTHOR PLATFORM IN 2021.
I have long been a fan of email lists. I think I started mine in … 2010? Long, long ago in a galaxy far, far away. That’s how it feels, anyway. Mostly because I was growing a newsletter as a blogger.
Now? I’m growing one (or several, actually) as an AUTHOR.
Some principles of creating an author newsletter are the same. Some are different. Let’s dive in and take out some of the intimidating factor of what I still believe should be the cornerstone of your author platform.
LISTEN TO EPISODE 198 – CREATING AN AUTHOR NEWSLETTER
Subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, or your favorite podcast app!
CREATING AN AUTHOR NEWSLETTER
Why am I still harping on email all these years after starting Create If Writing? (Because, if you’ve been around the whole time, email has always been my recommendation.)
After growing email lists for nonfiction and for fiction, it is STILL king. It’s still more effective to sell books than social media platforms.
It also is the only real DIRECT connection with your readers. Any time, Instagram could yank you, or your Facebook account could get hacked and shut down. And then… you’re done.
With email, you have that list of emails. You can hit up their inbox because they’ve given you permission, inviting you in. Sure, inboxes are crowded. But readers still get excited hearing from their favorite authors personally. And if they hit reply to an email you send out to everyone, it then becomes a one on one conversation.
Email is YOURS. It’s a direct line. It’s personal, and there’s no algorithm to an inbox.
GROWING YOUR AUTHOR NEWSLETTER
There are two big distinctions when it comes to growing your author newsletter. The first is organic growth, which would be having someone join your list from the back of a book they purchase or just on your website.
The second is paid growth, where you’re running Facebook ads, joining giveaways, or doing paid author promos. Essentially, you’re not BUYING subscribers (ew! don’t do that!), but you’re paying to get in front of the right readers who might opt in.
There’s also what I’d call orgnic-ish growth, which may not include paying to get in front of subscribers, but has an incentive to opting in, like a free book or chapter. This might be something like a Bookfunnel group promo by genre with other authors. Or–it might be inviting readers at the end of a book to opt in to your newsletter to get a bonus epilogue, a free prequel, or a chapter from another character’s point of view.
WHAT’S WORKING FOR ME?
What I’ve found is that using shorter pieces of content as incentives to join my newsletter has worked REALLY well. Readers have so many options for free books. They’re overloaded with whole free books. Try something smaller.
I’ve REALLY grown my list giving away shorter prequels related to my books and series or giving away a bonus epilogue. A bonus epilogue in the back of my first romcom has given me 2k subscribers just since October. (As a caveat, I’ve sold a LOT of books. I still think this can be super effective, but will depend on your book sales and how many people see that offer.)
In other words… short and sweet. And related to your other stories.
Over the years, I’ve done a mix of organic, organic-ish, and paid, and have gotten a good response with solid open rates and engagement, even as I’ve grown to over 7k.
Recommendations for Free Organic-ish Growth
Recommendations for Paid Growth
- AuthorsXP (hosts by genre giveaways where readers must opt-in)
- Booksweeps (hosts by genre giveaways where readers must opt-in)
- Fussy Librarian (you can pay to have traffic sent to your Bookfunnel page for your freebie)
- Fiction Atlas
EMAILING YOUR READERS
What do I say? How often do I send?
I hear those questions a lot, but not the question that needs to drive those answers. Which is: WHY am I sending email?
There are specific reasons you might use email, but the big, overarching WHY of email is not to sell your book or promote your new release.
GASP! I know. I know.
The overarching WHY of email is to connect with and build your superfans. They don’t just buy your new release. They buy ALL your releases. Everything.
I write short and sweet emails, usually recommending 1-3 books from other authors in my genre as a newsletter swap. But I also have a few paragraphs (often just a few sentences) about something personal. Typically humorous, though I’ve also shared struggles and heartaches.
Does everyone care? NO. But it absolutely does help me form a relationship with my superfans. It makes me stand out in their inbox as not just another author in my genre. They get to know me. We bond.
So, I’d highly recommend drawing some lines about what you want to include that’s personal and then BEING personal. Doesn’t have to be pics of your kids or your house or you in pajamas. Consider a few areas you’re willing to share and then let that flag fly.
FINAL WORDS ABOUT AUTHOR NEWSLETTERS
I know not everyone is a fan of email, and that it might not be as effective for everyone. HOWEVER, I still believe it’s the best place to connect on a more permanent level with readers and create superfans. It’s also the one platform that’s not changing.
We’ve seen a lot of upheaval this year on various platforms. Email is… decidedly the same as it was years ago. It’s a dinosaur. It’s stable. Even if it’s not your favorite, don’t miss out on creating your author newsletter!
Other email resources from the blog/podcast:
Jaime Buckey says
Great episode, and it has me thinking again about how I can get to my target audience which is 14-17yr olds.
Now, I’m a father of 13, and I’ve been a father figure/teacher for nearly 30 years. Connecting with kids is not a problem for me once I can get to them, but finding out how to side step gatekeepers has been the frustration of my existence.
Does email marketing to teens work at all? I’ve never had success with social media either—and I’m with you, left Twitter completely.
The only thing I’ve seen success with is just writing my books and crafting an online interactive world around my fantasy world (which I do through one of my characters).
Am I missing something?
You said you worked with youth, but have you done emails with youth? Or was it all face to face??
The biggest thing I’m just now discovering is that the kids who read my books actively tell others about them.
I know this because in an area where I have never said a thing, only donated a set of books to a library…and the head librarian said my books are THE most requested of any in the library and the waiting list is always full.
Great show, as always.so happy for your success! I’ve been at this since 2005, and still have not figured out how to market what I have.
Kirsten S Oliphant says
It’s very difficult, actually, mostly because a lot of the ad targeting isn’t ALLOWED to go under 18. There are gatekeepers, and sometimes that’s the platforms where ads are. Which means… organic. And that CAN be really hard on platforms and online. Most of my YA book readers are actually adult women, many of them in their 40s. And that’s a pretty typical demographic. It’s a lot easier for traditionally published authors to reach those younger audiences because they can use other vehicles like bookstores or even libraries or school lists. They’ve got the big books and access to promote that way. We can try getting on their platforms and connecting, using things like Instagram (which skews younger) and Tiktok and creating content meant to reach those younger audiences or working with influencers that reach down into that demographic.
Jaime Buckley says
Goodness, I forgot to ask my question!!
Okay, I want to set up an email and I’ve used mailer lite for years, but I’m moving over to Podia soon.
I’m wondering in your opinion, would it be wise to set up a mailing list now, using mailer lite and then switching to Podia when I start using the platform?
…or just wait to start once I am on Podia, and update the info in my books then?
I know you’re busy, but never hurts to ask.
Kirsten S Oliphant says
I personally wouldn’t want to use an all-in-one, even if that’s easier in terms of not having to hook up all the sequences and whatevers to work together. I feel like most platforms do one thing well. Podia is great for courses and has communication through there, but I’d personally keep email separate. That’s me. But I would 100% start today or yesterday and get email going, even if your’e going to switch. I would imagine that Mailerlite’s email platform would have way more features than the one on Podia, which I think is meant more to communicate with the course customers than to run sales funnels, welcome sequences, free book deliveries, etc–the things I’m personally using email for. But I haven’t checked it out, and you may totally be all-in. Either way–start now.
Jessie Jocelyne says
Hi! Q about the bonus epilogue as the incentive for email signup. you said you got an extra 2K subscribers. What % of your book sales/reads is that? What is considered a good sign-up rate from a bonus epilogue at the back of a book?
THanks so much
It is very informative article I learned a lot after reading your writing. I like your information very much. I hope more posts like this. Thanks.
It is very informative article ever i seen. I learned a lot after reading this article. I like your information very much. I hope more posts like this. Thanks.