5 Fundaments of Great Author Newsletters

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I have a confession: when my kids were toddlers, I longed for the time when they’d be both be in school/preschool for part of the day so I’d have uninterrupted time to write. I adored them, of course, but if I didn’t get my weekly writing time, I started to feel lost, depressed, and pretty darned cranky. So when the happy day came, I celebrated, looking forward to 2 glorious hours of writing, 2 mornings a week. Practically heaven.

That’s why it was a really tough decision when, a few years later, we decided to take them out of public school. A combination of circumstances (this was just after 9/11 and the death of a close family friend) meant that one of our boys was miserable and depressed in the public school environment, where–like so many super-bright kids–he didn’t fit in, wasn’t challenged, and wasn’t happy.

If you’ve ever had a kid come home in tears or, worse, watched one spiral downward into hopelessness, you’ll understand my decision to try homeschooling, even if it wasn’t a great fit for me personally.

My biggest challenge was teaching my kids to write. I loved writing and storytelling, but I could not get my boys excited about it. I started to fear that I was teaching them to hate writing, rather than love it like I did.

Around that time, a writing friend introduced me to a local kids’ writing program/club called Druidawn. It used a roleplaying game (similar to Dungeons and Dragons, but simpler) to encourage kids to write. In D&D, players gain experience points through game play, which they use to “level up,” a process that makes their characters progressively more skilled and powerful.

In Druidawn, kids gained experience points by writing. Since they spent part of their writing club time playing the roleplaying game–in which the characters they’d created faced challenges, fought monsters, and completed quests–they had ready-made material to write about. My third-grader went from writing only when forced (and then, he’d write the bare minimum) to churning out reams of pages about his character, his friends’ characters, and their adventures.

I credit that experience with teaching him the love of writing he has today.Continue Reading

4 Types of Author Newsletter: How to Pick the Best for You

Last week, we kicked off a blog series on author newsletters with “Why You Absolutely, Positively Need an Author’s Newsletter“. If you missed it, check it out! You can also add your two cents about what you love and hate about author newsletters here.

The 4 Content Types

Newsletter_TypesWhen I first decided to start an author newsletter, I had no idea what to talk about. I didn’t do author visits. I didn’t have any upcoming books to announce (yet!) and I didn’t have any classes to try to drum up business for. So what the heck would I put into a newsletter?

I decided that my first step would be to figure out what other authors put into their newsletters. I was already on several authors’ lists; I subscribed to a dozen more, eager to see what other authors–authors of all types–had to say, how they said it, and how often. The result? I found that most email newsletters fall into one of four content-based categories.

1. Chat & Conversation

Many–most?–of the newsletters I reviewed include some content that’s simply…chatty. I think it’s similar to the letter from the editor included in the front of many magazines, a personal note that makes a connection between the author and the reader. Check out this punchy missive from bestselling children’s author and entrepreneur Katie Davis:

KatieDavisNewsletter

Maybe it’s a stretch to call this a “section”, since it’s usually pretty short, but I think it’s worth pointing out because all the best author newsletters took time to make the reader feel so comfortable and casual, the author might have been sitting down with you at the local coffee shop to chat over a cup of java.

Take-home: An author newsletter gives you an opportunity to make a more personal connection with your audience.

Continue Reading

Poll: What Do YOU Want in an Author Newsletter?

For the next month, I’m blogging about author newsletters–the why’s, hows, and wheres. I’ve got some handy tips and resources to share from my own newsletter launch. I’d also love to hear from YOU, about what you like or dislike in the author newsletters you’ve seen (because I know you’ve seen a few!)

Please take a few minutes to fill out the SUPER-SHORT survey below and let me know your thoughts. Be awesome!

Why You Absolutely, Positively Need an Author’s Newsletter

That was then…social-349568_640

First, we heard Authors must have websites! and Authors must have blogs! …so writers everywhere scurried to set up their author websites and start blogging.

Then the cry became, Authors must be active on social media! …and we threw ourselves willy-nilly into Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and Instagram.

As time went on, some of us began to question these maxims. Who’s making these pronouncements, anyhow? What if you’re an author who hates blogging or Twitter or Pinterest or whatever? Some of us started to figure out that the “rules” weren’t actually set in stone.

This is now…

The current refrain-of-the-hour seems to be, Authors must have author newsletters! I admit, it’s tempting to dismiss this latest bit of advice as just another passing Thing Authors Must Do. If that’s the case, we can ignore it, right?

Well–no. It turns out that this piece of social media and marketing advice actually makes a lot of sense. In fact, I think that creating some sort of email newsletter–and, more importantly, an email mailing list–is the single most valuable thing we can do as authors.

Want to build your author platform? An email newsletter is
the single component you absolutely, positively can’t do without.

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Why You Need an Author Newsletter

I’ve put together this fancy infographic to show what you get from an email newsletter vs what you get from other social media forums:

 

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It’s not rocket science: building your email list allows you to assemble–over time–a list of people who are interested in what you have to say–and, therefore, might be potential customers now or in the future.

Of course, if you treat your email list as a way to SELL-SELL-SELL things to people, you won’t have many subscribers. So how do you coax people into signing up for your list and offer them enough genuine value that they want to stick around?

That’s what I plan to blog about for the next month or so. I’ll also be covering the step-by-step basics of how to set up an email list, signup forms, newsletters, and more. Why? Because those topics have been top of MY mind for the past few months. I (finally!) launched my own author newsletter in May, so–although I’m not an email newsletter expert by any means–I do know exactly the kinds of questions and road bumps you may hit (or may have already hit!) on the way to launching your own author newsletter.

If you’re setting up an email newsletter–or if you’re looking to improve your current process–you won’t want to miss the resource list and how-to checklist I’m creating only for newsletter subscribers. Sign up now!

Sign up now!