What every writer needs to know about author newsletters

Why do we hate writing emails? We can craft compelling stories. Writing 200 words on a project that inspires us takes a few minutes and energizes us. The thought of writing 200 words in an email to our subscribed readers sends us into a tailspin.

So, we’ll do it tomorrow.

Except, tomorrow doesn’t come until next month. Then we think it’s pointless because we haven’t sent an email in so long, they probably won’t remember who the message is from.

Why do we use so many excuses to avoid this important piece of an author’s career?

What We Think

“I don’t generally read author newsletters,” said one coaching client, “so why would I think someone would read mine?”

I’ve been there. I’ve thought that.

But everyone isn’t like you. And the same person who admitted that said she did still follow and read two authors’ newsletters because she found them valuable.

I read a few of them. I like the author’s voice and getting a glimpse behind the writing curtain. But I’m an author, so I don’t know if the average reader would enjoy that.

Except one of the newsletters I read is written by a multi-time bestselling author, so I think she must be doing something right.

Time to debunk this idea that everyone hates newsletters. Some readers enjoy them and will read them.

What We Fear

Another thing that keeps us from starting a consistent author newsletter is fear.

We’re afraid:

  • People will unsubscribe
  • People won’t read the words we toiled over
  • People will think what we share is pointless

The truth? People will unsubscribe. Unless you offer them a unique voice and content that reflects the way you write.

Some people won’t read the newsletters. Even if you find a clickable subject line and write quirky content.

Are you sharing pointless information?

Readers I polled were evenly split over whether they wanted to hear about your personal life or your writing struggles.

Sometimes, readers will scan the email, so make sure you include several images with clickable links.

What We Need to Know

Those people who unsubscribed? They weren’t your people.

Clean their names from your list, and carry on.

Here are things readers I polled said they enjoyed in the author newsletters they read:

  • Book recommendations and reviews
  • Sales announcements
  • Updates on the next project you’ll release, including excerpts to tease them
  • Release information
  • Travel/setting information and photographs
  • Interesting tidbits about life, writing and otherwise

The same poll gave insight into what makes readers hit the unsubscribe button even if they loved your books. Things like:

  • Constant requests to buy your book
  • Long and frequent emails that offer nothing of value

Don’t let fear and indecision keep you from creating a short story or novella as a lead magnet and giving it away in exchange for a reader’s email address.

Once you have a list, no matter how small, start sending a short email to them every month to two months. Most people I polled didn’t enjoy weekly emails.

What a relief! You can surely find excerpts from your book and interesting photos of your writing space or vacations to fill six newsletters. And that’s enough to keep your readers reading for a year.

Do you have an author newsletter? What advice or warnings would you add?

What do you think? Add to the discussion here.