Hi, all – Ava Pennington here. Happy Valentine’s Day a few days early! February is the month of hearts, flowers, and love notes.
Whether or not you write love notes to that special someone in your life, every author should be writing love notes…to their readers! Okay, maybe not love notes, but we should be keeping in touch with our readers on a regular basis, and email newsletters are an effective, low-cost way to do it.
Back in October, during my book launch, I had set out a guest book for people to sign. The guest book also had a place for them to add their email address to sign up for a quarterly newsletter. I also offer the opportunity to subscribe on my website.
I’m sorry to say I have yet to send out the first issue. But that’s about to change. I’ve done quite a bit of research in preparation for my first mailing, and I’m here to share with you what I’ve learned.
As you collect email addresses for your mailing list, be aware of anti-spam laws. Spam is defined as unsolicited electronic messages sent in bulk. Email newsletters are considered spam unless the recipient requested to subscribe. It doesn’t matter how sure you are that your cousin Martha or your mechanic is eagerly awaiting your writing news. If they didn’t sign up for the newsletter, don’t send it.
Many newsletter programs have an opt-in feature that asks the recipient to confirm their subscription request. This ensures they understand what they’re doing, and that someone else didn’t sign them up without their knowledge. You should also offer a choice to opt-out or unsubscribe in each newsletter in the event that recipients decide to cancel their subscriptions.
Where should you offer the opportunity to subscribe to your newsletter? Wherever you connect with readers! Your website, blog page, Facebook page, even Twitter are all potential subscription opportunities. You can also have a sign-up sheet at your book signings or speaking engagements. Just make sure you are not harvesting email addresses without the express consent of the recipients. They must be the ones to sign up for your newsletter – you can’t do it for them!
One way to encourage subscriptions is to offer an incentive for those who sign up. Your incentive could be a free download of a short story, a sample chapter of your book (check with your publisher first), an informative article, a bookmark, or a discount on a future purchase.
Decide, in advance, how often you will be distributing your newsletter. It could be monthly, bimonthly, or quarterly. Longer intervals than that may cause your subscribers to forget who you are!
You will have to decide what content to include. Many programs offer templates that make it easy to “fill in the blanks.” Consider your readers and their interests, but don’t make the content one big hard sell. A successful newsletter will nurture an ongoing relationship with your readers.
Of course, you’ll want to inform them of your own writing news: new releases, speaking engagements, activity on your current works-in-progress. But think about other information, too. Relevant market news about the publishing world, book reviews, and fellow author interviews will keep your readers coming back for more.
Well, now it’s time for me to take my own advice and send out my first newsletter!
How about you? What have you found that works – or doesn’t work – in your email newsletters?