Hey writer! Looking to transition into being an author? You know, the kind of writer who has readers pay to read their work? How do you find readers? How can you share what you’re doing next with them? How do you let them know about your new work? Whether indie, hybrid, or traditionally published, most writers have to do some author promo. There are many tools available thanks to social media, which might make you wonder if email newsletters are worth the effort. Read on to find out whether to love them or leave them.
Why Email Newsletters?
Newsletters, delivered straight to a subscriber’s email inbox, are a powerful tool for anyone who runs a business, has a blog, or controls a website. This is your chance to have direct communication with someone who is or was interested in your material. People who stumble across a website they like are unlikely to remember it. Even if they wanted to go back, they might not find you. Or, they might forget to check back regularly. Emailing people useful content that they like is a useful way to stay in touch. The more emails you collect, the more subscribers you’ll have. If these people were interested enough in your content to sign up in the first place, they are more likely than other people to engage with it (i.e., buy your next book, visit your site, read your next post).
Can’t I Just Use Social Media Instead?
While it’s true that a hot social media account can reach tens of thousands of people (or more), the people who see a post might not actually care that much about your other work. Worse, you don’t operate the social media; you just lease the space. They can shut down your account for various reasons, and you don’t want to risk losing those contacts.
In contrast, an email list is yours. Once you collect it, you own it, and no random updates will make you lose what you’ve built. As some other websites recommend, every day you’re not collecting emails is a day you’re not building your following. Think about it: the mysterious algorithm of social media dictates who and how many people see your posts. Not so with your email newsletter. That goes to the people who signed up for it. Sure, some of it might hit the junk mail, but it’s more certain than social media.
What’s in a Newsletter?
I write for a book review site called www.bookclubbabble.com. We share reviews, interviews with authors, thoughts on reading/writing, and book club questions. We also do a newsletter, which people are encouraged to sign up for when they visit. The newsletter comes out twice a month, and it contains links to everything we published that month. People can click a hyperlink and read the full text or just browse the headlines to see what they missed. It’s a great way to bring content to readers who might have missed it when they visited the site.
As another example, I subscribe to a few newsletters from newspapers, and I love them. I read the one from the New York Times every morning. It’s a great distillation of the news, and they feature a story or two in more detail. I consider the content to be helpful, which is why I actually open them. Often I get interested in a story and want to read more. When I do, that links me back to the website, which increases their traffic. It’s a win-win. If you also provide content your subscribers are into, they’ll love your work and keep coming back for more too.
In conclusion, putting together the email newsletter takes a little effort up front, but there are countless services that help you automate it (think Constant Contact or Mailchimp, etc). It’s worth your while to own your content and build your potential readership.