Staying in Touch with Readers: Newsletters, Part Two

by Linore Rose Burkard

Last month we looked at Author Newsletters, discussing the why and wherefore. This month we’ll look at the what (what content to include) and next month the how (how to get one started).

What Do I Put in A Newsletter?
Your audience has subscribed to your list because they’ve read a book you’ve written or are considering reading one. You’ve caught their interest as a writer. Therefore, the first order of business is giving them book news. No new releases right now? Give an update on progress of your next book. New contracts, a stellar review, an article related to your book–it all fits.

Other Content Ideas:

  • You’re a writer! Share some new writing. 
    • Be sure to include a copyright notice (the little symbol will do) if it’s something you plan on using in a book someday.  
  • A Calendar. If you’re actively doing speaking engagements, or have any upcoming author-related events, share them with your fans.
    • Make sure to tell them they’re the first to know!
  • What made you write that book, or is motivating your next one?  
    • A good back story can be the catalyst that makes a reader purchase a book.
  • See a current headline that dovetails with content from your book? Share the link.  
    • Example: When a sizable solar flare hit, I shared a link to that story since my YA, PULSE, deals with a catastrophic solar flare that takes down the electric grid of the nation.  
  • Other books in your genre catch your eye? Your audience will be interested. 
    • Share direct links to Amazon. (This is a nice way to support fellow authors, too.)
  • What do you know about your audience? Share content that appeals to them. Non-fiction authors have a far easier time doing this, but even fiction writers can find areas of interest in their book. 
    • Example: My regency romances take place in the Jane Austen era. So, I often include links to JA news and events for readers of that genre.  
    • For fans of my YA Pulse Effex Series, I share articles related to disaster preparedness and homesteading.   
  • Do you have a blog or write for one? Share links to those posts.
  • Spirituality: I often have something related to Christianity, whether a poem, a meaty quote, a short devotion, or book recommendation.
  • Reviews: Not only for your book, but ones you write for other books. Include purchase links to the books you review.   
  • Have you written non-fiction articles about something that ties to your books? Run it in the newsletter. 
    • Example: I’ve written dozens of articles about life during the Regency. After using them as the main article of a newsletter, I often package them into illustrated PDFs and re-use them as perpetual freebies on my website.  Freebies are important, because your newsletter has to answer one question for your subscriber–even the subject line that lands in their inbox should strive to answer this all-important question; namely:  

What’s In It for Them?

One pitfall to avoid is having your newsletter be all about you and your book(s). Such content gets tired quickly. Everyone who opens your email is asking on some level,  What’s in it for me? So make sure there is something in it for them. How? Run a giveaway, give them chances to win a free book or other neat prizes. If you don’t have a current contest or giveaway, find someone who does (in your niche or genre) and share news of that.

Better yet, get in the habit of creating little free PDFs they can download.
In the past, I’ve offered free PDFs such as:

One of my free PDFs
Reader Engagement

Free PDFs increase reader engagement. And if you can increase reader engagement, you’ll grow loyal readers who can’t wait to open your newsletters. 

For my regency fans, I used to run a monthly “Jane Contest.” I’d choose a quotation from one of Jane’s books (or even her letters) and ask readers to identify the character speaking. All correct answers went in a drawing for a free book, or other prize. (Janeites adored this contest.) Anything that gets readers clicking a link, answering a question, entering a drawing, etc. will up your engagement level.  Using polls and asking for feedback on a book’s title or cover are more ways to increase engagement.

Perpetual Content
Somewhere in the newsletter should be links that stay permanently. Your website link, your Amazon book page, facebook fan page, twitter profile, even your Pinterest boards, if they can tie to your writing. For new subscribers who haven’t yet read your work, keep a thumbnail of your titles with links to purchase. One of my favorite perpetuals? A “share this newsletter” button!
In Closing:
Some people may read your newsletter because they’re interested in you. But most readers are far more interested in the What’s in it for me? question.
Don’t forget to answer it.
I won’t tell you how often to send your newsletter. Opinions vary widely on that, and it all depends on what your goals are. But since most authors are busy people, once a month is probably often enough to help readers remember you and to share whatever’s new.

Finally, people who read newsletters are, well, readers. Keep it interesting, offer a variety of content, and you’ll keep subscribers happy, engaged, and coming back for more. When at long last you  announce a new release, your subscribers will include many who feel they know you, and are eager to get that next title.

Next Month: HOW to start that newsletter and mailing list. 

Linore Rose Burkard wrote a trilogy of genuine regency romances for the Christian market before there were any regencies for the Christian market. Published with Harvest House, her books opened up the genre for the CBA. She also writes YA Suspense/Apocalyptic fiction as L.R. Burkard. Married with five children, she home-schools her youngest daughter, preferably with coffee in one hand and an iPad in the other. Her latest  PULSE EFFEX SERIES, takes readers into a “chilling possible future for America.”