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Building an author newsletter: 5 practical tips for success

Updated: Jun 14

“It takes time and skill, but the cornerstone of every author’s brand begins with a newsletter.”

Prior to the launch of my first novel, I Loved You Yesterday, I consumed every piece of advice I could find about building a strong author brand. From establishing a presence on social media and designing a website to Goodreads and Bookbub, I devoured it all with the hope of establishing a strong readership. Many things stood out as a “best practice” for building an author brand; among them, was a monthly newsletter.

I first established my subscription to Mail Chimp (a popular newsletter service) in January 2022, about eight months before my first book published. Over the last two years, I’ve slowly learned not only how to create visually appealing newsletters, but also how to build relationships with readers and garner new subscribers. I’m no expert, just a small press author working to build a brand. But I’m proud of the 1,000+ list of subscribers I’ve been able to curate in my short time being an author.

In this blog, I’d like to offer young authors five practical pieces of advice on how to establish a strong monthly newsletter.

Newsletters are not (strictly) for promotion. The goal of an author newsletter is to maintain a regular connection with your readers. While you may sell a copy or two of your books because of a newsletter communication, it’s not the purpose. Newsletters are a great medium to share information and build relationships. It’s an opportunity for you to connect with a special population of readers who have elected to learn more about your work. Don’t badger them with promotional efforts; there’s a good chance they’ve already read your books (why else would they subscribe?).

Here are a few things I choose to regularly include: a warm, personal note that recaps my last month; upcoming events and book signings; an educational blog; book club discussion questions; behind the scenes of my work in progress; sneak peeks at upcoming books or chapters; book recommendations; and more! These are just a few ideas, but you can get a full idea by viewing my April 2024 newsletter here.

Keep the layout, font and format consistent for reader familiarity. Regular readers will recognize your brand if you keep it consistent. I don’t know about you, but on average, I receive at least seventy-five emails per day. Make your newsletter stand out with a unique, yet recognizable design readers will automatically associate with you. Stick with a consistent header from month-to-month, select an easy-to-read font, and follow a similar flow in each issue. Readers will appreciate the consistency and know what to expect.

Don’t spam. You have to find the sweet spot that works for you and your readers. I’ve found that a regular email once a month allows me to share updates and maintain a connection without overdoing it. Some authors choose to share a newsletter weekly or bi-monthly. Do what works for you. There’s no right or wrong; just be mindful about what your schedule allows for and how often your readers want to hear from you.

Be conversational. A newsletter is a distinctive way to communicate with your readers. It’s not a blog. It’s not a social media post. It’s something unique. When I sit down to develop my monthly newsletter, I often find myself writing in a conversational tone. I want my readers to feel a personal connection to me, as well as my stories. I write from a personal, not professional lens and hope those reading it can hear my individual voice through the words on the screen.

Offer a freebee for subscribing. Some readers will automatically want to stay connected with you. If they love your books, subscribing to your newsletter is an obvious way to learn about your upcoming releases and more. However, not every reader wants another email in their inbox. Some need more convincing to make the commitment and you might need to consider offering a “freebee” as an incentive to subscribe.

Personally, I offer all new subscribers chapter one of my upcoming release. For example, my next release will publish on June 13, 2024. Finding Love is book two in the Clumsy Little Hearts trilogy. After this book meets the world, I’ll head back into Mail Chimp and update my freebee. Do what works best for you. I’ve seen authors offer bonus chapters that didn’t make the final cut, character profiles, playlists, and more! Have fun with it.

Building an author brand is not for the faint of heart. It takes time and skill, but the cornerstone of every author’s brand begins with a newsletter. You can subscribe to mine here (scroll to the bottom of the page). Thank you for taking the time to read through my blog. I wish you the best of luck on your author journey!

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