FRIDAY NOTES & NEWS: What to Write in Your Author Newsletter

CommuterLit Editor & Publisher

THE PREVAILING marketing wisdom is that once a writer has a few publications or a couple of books under her belt, she should cultivate a fan following and potential readers/customers by putting out a regular author newsletter. 

As you can imagine, since CL’s newsletter is weekly, just what the heck to write in a newsletter is constantly on my mind. Now, some writers will decide not to do a newsletter — they’re too busy; they question the prevailing wisdom; it’s really not for them. Fine. But for those who wish to take a stab at it, here are my best practices. (Let’s put aside the issue of how to get people to sign up for the newsletter — a huge topic, which I’ll tackle next week.)

1. Strive for consistency in output and be realistic. Not enough time or stuff to say on a weekly basis? Then go for monthly or bimonthly or quarterly. Avoid issuing your newsletter randomly. 

2. Don’t make it too long. Write concisely. 

3. It’s primarily about building relationships and community with your readers and potential readers. So think about it like checking in with friends from time to time. If you check in with them too seldom, you lose the connection; but if you check in too often, you’re a pest.

4. You can include a sales pitch (to buy or pre-order your book) occasionally, but not every single time. People get turned off by too much hard-sell.

5. Do include your news about appearances, public readings, awards, publication dates.

6. Be your authentic self. Tell them about your screw ups and triumphs; what your days have been like, what you’ve been thinking about, dreaming about, wondering about, struggling with. 

7. Ask them questions and give them a means to send you their answers.

8. Think about what they may be interested in talking about — what might resonate with them.

9. Be very plain and direct with your subject lines. Think click bate.

10. And finally, be aware that the average open rate for an enewsletter can hover around the 20% mark (if you average a rate of 30% or more you’re doing well). The average click through rate hovers around the 1 to 2% mark.

What’s been your experience with author newsletters? Leave a comment below.

Contributors News
Heather Rath
‘s story “12 Wild Women and One Outhouse” was recently featured on Story Quilt.

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