As authors, we all know that your email list will help you sell more books. Not having an active email list means you’ve got to start your marketing efforts from scratch every time you launch a new book.
But an email list is only helpful if you keep people engaged. There’s hardly any point in having an email list if you will not contact people regularly.
How can you do that? Keeping an email list warm is easier said than done. Between all the blogging, Facebook posts, Tweets, guest posts, and email newsletters, it almost seems like you won’t have time to write books!
However, the return on the time you spend connecting with your list can be profitable. In this post, I’ll go through some creative ways to keep your email list hooked and excited to buy your next release.
Before we even go into the content for your newsletter, there are a few details you should include at the bottom of every email you send your list. You should consider these things your non-negotiables for a good email signature:
- Links to every place readers can find you. Use your Facebook, Amazon author page, Goodreads page, website, and every other avenue where your readers can connect.
- Purchase links for those subscribers who haven’t read all of your titles yet.
By placing purchase and social links at the bottom of your emails, you’re giving a gentle reminder for your readers to consider buying a book.
If you want your email signature to be easier on the eyes, you can use a tool like Wisestamp to create awesome looking email signatures. Creating a signature on Wisestamp makes the entire process a lot quicker. You can copy these signatures to your email provider and even import them to your personal email address.
Now that we have the basics covered, let’s look at how to make your author newsletter awesome for your readers.
Five things you can include in your author newsletter
1. Calls for feedback
Everyone loves to be asked for advice. If you’re stuck between two book cover ideas, let your email list choose the cover they like the most. Or maybe you want a name for a new character. Ask your readers for ideas.
Giving your audience a small voice in parts of your writing will give them a sense of ownership over your work. They’ll be emotionally invested in your book and will want to follow your progress. When your audience realizes your emails are a conversation (and not a one-way broadcast), they’ll be more engaged and far more likely to open your emails regularly.
2. A peek behind the scenes
To develop a loyal fanbase, show off your personality to create a connection with your readers.
Share stories from any book tours you’ve been on. Show some pics from a recent vacation. Talk about the books you’re reading. And include something fun every now and then. Have you recently discovered the perfect way to reheat french fries? Let your readers in on it!
You don’t have to turn your emails into a diary of your deep dark secrets, but small insights into you as a person will help build a rapport with your readers.
As an author, you can also talk a bit about your writing process. While it’s likely most people in your audience aren’t authors, I’m sure they face problems such as procrastination or finding inspiration like you do from time to time. Share with them what’s working for you.
If you’re also writing a blog as a part of your platform-building efforts, definitely look to publish that content in your author newsletter. Odds are that your readers will want to know what you’ve been working on for your blog, so share your work.
To go with your own blog content, if you write any guest posts on other websites, you should be looking to include those in your newsletters too.
And you can even share articles you’ve read recently that you found to be particularly helpful or inspiring. No writing involved! Here’s an off-the-wall example. I recently found an article that ranks the prices of all the most popular meal kit delivery services. I’d always wondered how meal delivery prices compared and thought it was a really helpful article. That’s the kind of article you might want to share if you think your readers would find it interesting — along with a story and a pic of your experience with meal kits.
There’s a bit of debate on if it is a good idea or not to send an entire article via email vs just linking to it; and in truth, there’s no real right or wrong answer. However, personally, I don’t see a problem with having readers click away to the full article.
For starters, when the time comes, you’ll want your readers to click through and purchase your books. So, getting your subscribers used to clicking through to read your blog is a way to subtly train your list to click through and make a purchase. Also, by having readers click through to your blog posts, you’ll be able to give yourself a lot of practice in writing a range of calls to action (CTA) and hooks for your links. Being able to test your CTAs in your newsletters will give you the opportunity to find out what works best.
Every now and then, it’s a great idea to wow your readers with a free digital gift. Something that feels special.
Ideas for fiction writers include:
- Prequels or side stories
- Short stories
- Extra chapters to previous books
- Drawings of different characters or scenes, like J. K. Rowling has done
And if you’re a nonfiction author, then an informational eBook or a short video course is a great way to engage your email list in the lead up to a new book. Most online course platforms like Thinkific have a free plan for beginners that are definitely enough to get started.
This might go without saying, but remember to let your list know when something exciting is happening. Is a new book being released in your sci fi series? Spread the word! The same goes for when there’s a discount on one of your existing books.
You can also make announcements for your author friends. When a similar writer has a new book coming out, consider giving it a shout out. This can lead to reciprocity down the line, when people you’ve helped promote might return the favor for you.
Just be careful about recommending a friend’s book right before your next title comes out. You don’t want your readers to be distracted or over budget when it’s time for them to buy your book.
Looking for more email ideas? Try hitting up your local bookstore
A cool trick that you can use to get some newsletter ideas come from this article written by Sean D’Souza. Rather than sit at your desk all day and stare at the screen, check out your local bookstore for some fresh ideas.
Look through the books in, or related to, your genre and find one that catches your eye. Then, look through the book’s table of contents and you’ll most likely find a bunch of cool ideas.
For example, if you’re a non-fiction writer who specializes in youth soccer coaching, you might find a book called ‘Youth Soccer 101’ with the following chapters:
- Youth soccer training warm-ups
- The best days of the week to train
- How to schedule soccer training with parents
- Promote good habits on the soccer field
- Warm-up games
- Ball control games
- Defending games
- Attacking games
- Small-sided games
- Cooldown games
Just by looking at this book’s table of contents, you’ve got a range of different topics you can write about in your next newsletter. In fact, you’ve got enough ideas for your next ten newsletters!
How do you measure success for your author newsletter?
They say you can’t improve what you can’t measure. So, there’s a few key numbers you’ll want to track to make sure your audience is engaged and reading your emails.
While you can certainly dig deep with email tracking, here are two of the main numbers you should be looking over and what to aim for.
- Email Open Rate: The total percentage of subscribers who open an email. Campaign Monitor says that the average email open rate for any industry is around 17%. Consider that a very generic benchmark.
- Click Through Rate: The percentage of people who click through from a link in your email. Note, this number will usually be quite small, as it’s a percentage of total recipients, even those who don’t open the email. Campaign Monitor says that the average click through rate is a bit under 3%.
In the early days, don’t worry too much about how your percentages match up to the averages provided. It is far more beneficial to make sure your numbers are constantly improving.
You can improve your open rates and click through rates by making sure you have an engaging and entertaining email newsletter, using the strategies I’ve shared.
Your email list can be your biggest asset if you invest in it.
By keeping your subscribers engaged through your newsletter, you’ll be able to sell more books on a more consistent basis. That’s what almost every author wants, right? So, look through these ideas and start planning your next author newsletter. You don’t have to implement all the strategies at once. Instead, it is far better to choose one or two that you can be consistent with over the long term.
Dave Chesson is the founder of Kindlepreneur.com and creator of Publisher Rocket, a software that helps authors market their books more effectively.