What is an author newsletter? Do you need one? How do you go about doing one?
An author newsletter is an automated email sent to a list of subscribers to tell them about new releases, special promotions , contests or other information.
Unlike using Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or other social media platforms, a newsletter allows you to be in complete control of the message. You are not subject to anyone’s rules or limitations. And unlike your own blog or website, you don’t rely on people to stumble upon your site—you contact them directly.
An author newsletter is a MUST if you are self-published and still a highly recommended if you’re with a publisher. A newsletter allows you to send a specific message to a target audience predisposed to liking your books.
The newsletter program I use is MailChimp so the rest of this information will apply to that program. But not only can you use MailChimp to create newsletters, you can use it as a way of being able to grow your business. This is known as MailChimp integrations. This platform creates a path for companies to keep int touch with their clients, manage subscribers and activities, as well as being able to design content.
How do you do a newsletter?
- Log on to MailChimp.com and open an account.
- Create a “list.” This is the file that will contain your subscriber’s email addresses. It will also have your name, email, and mailing address that will become part of your future newsletter.
- Create a “form.” You use a form to gather subscriber emails. There are a few basic types: a “general form” is an URL unique to your MailChimp account that allows people to sign up. You can use this URL in blog posts, on Facebook , on Twitter, in the backmatter of your books. My general form is this: http://eepurl.com/9aRJj. You will also probably want an “embedded form,” which is a line of HTML code that creates a signup box. MailChimp creates this for you. You don’t need to know HTML. You can also create a “Popup” form – that will create a Popup menu when people visit your site. I don’t use this one.
- Publicize your newsletter signups to enroll subscribers. Put it on your blog, in your bio, in your backmatter.
- Create your newsletter. Each newsletter is called a “campaign” in MailChimp language. You pick a template and then upload and copy/paste your information into it. I recommend writing your copy in Word and then pasting it into the template rather than trying to write it in the template.
- Run a test.
- Click send. It automatically goes out to your newsletter subscribers.
Pros and cons of MailChimp
- Initially MailChimp is a little “squirrelly” to figure out. The first time I logged onto MailChimp, I wasn’t sure I was in the right place. It didn’t look like anything. I didn’t understand Mail Chimp lingo like “campaigns” “embedded forms” “A/B Split” My first newsletter took me HOURS of practice to figure out.
- Once I muddled through that first newsletter it was amazingly, shockingly easy. It takes me about 10 minutes to do a newsletter now.
- MailChimp is free until you get 2,000 subscribers and then you have to pay for it. I figure if I get 2,000 subscribers, paying for the service will be worth it.
- MailChimp allows you to see which subscribers are opening your newsletter and whether they are clicking on the links.
My personal recommendations
- It’s relatively easy to get people to subscribe to a newsletter by offering a prize (I did this to get blog signups). But those people generally won’t be genuinely interested in your books. And since you will eventually have to pay for your newsletter service based on the number of subscribers, you are better off slowly building a list of genuine readers than packing it with people who aren’t interested.
- MailChimp requires a mailing address, which is automatically embedded on your newsletter. If you don’t want your subscribers to know where you live, get yourself a post office box.
Questions about newsletters?
If you want the latest news on my book or want to see what my newsletter looks like, sign up for my New Release Newsletter here.