Hey Author, Don’t Ask Questions, Just Start a Newsletter

Woohoo! Welcome to the third phase of my Book Marketing series–THE NEWSLETTER. Here are the links to the other posts if you need to catch up:

Today we’re talking about author newsletters.

The newsletter is my favorite marketing resource that (in my opinion) takes the least amount of attention. In short, the newsletter is an email that you send out to your followers and subscribers to keep them updated and /engaged/ in your writing journey and goings-on. But it’s also a great way for NATURAL promotion that doesn’t rely on social media.

To start us off, here are four reasons WHY newsletters rock (and why you want one):

1. It goes straight into your reader’s inbox.

People don’t have to remember to check your Twitter for updates. They don’t have to go to your blog. The newsletter goes to your reader instead of your reader having to remember to come and find you.

2. You get committed readers.

Readers are the ones who sign up for your newsletter—they give you permission to send them an e-mail, basically saying, “I WANT to read your stuff. I want it to show up in my inbox.” They take the time to sign up, they are declaring they want to receive your updates. That means you’re attracting people who are directly interested in you and your writing.

3. You control it.

Any day, Twitter could implode. Facebook could shut down. Instagram could get hacked. And boom. There go your followers.

But not with a newsletter.

With a newsletter YOU have everyone’s e-mail addresses and it’s not reliant on a social media site. Even if all social media shuts down, you still have your subscribers and their e-mails. You control it.

4. A newsletter is non-invasive.

Where Twitter and FB and the social media sites tend to be an every-day thing, you can choose when you send your newsletter out and it doesn’t have to be often. Ideally only once a month or every couple months. Your reader sees it as informative (and more personal) instead of spammy.

Your homework is to start collecting email addresses now. Even if you don’t have a newsletter set up. Even if you’re not sure what to write. Because then when you do have something to write or share, then you have people who will actually read it.

Otherwise, you’ll have gotten that book contract and…there’s no one to tell.

How Do You Start A Newsletter?

Since all of you are thinking, “I feel like obeying Nadine! I’m going to start a newsletter!” (I’m so proud!) here’s how to start:

Find a host site.

There are a lot of newsletter host sites out there, but the one I like the most and the one that’s most popular is Mailchimp. You can go to Mailchimp.com and set one up. There are some areas that require some tech savvy, but if you have trouble, there are YouTube videos that can help direct you.

Personally, I didn’t have any trouble setting one up. Also, it’s free up until 2,000 subscribers. (And by that point, if you have 2,000 people reading your newsletter and buying your books, you probably have the money to pay for the upgrade.) 😉

Other popular sites are:

Get people to sign up.

The best way to grow your list is to make sure people know about it.


So if you’re on other social media sites, post about it! Not repetitively like a broken record, but when you actually have something to say, like: “I just started a newsletter! I want to share my writing/publishing process with you. Sign up here!” or “My first newsletter is going out tomorrow! Are you signed up for my updates?”

If people see you active online and they see your personality through your social media, they’ll want to know you. They’ll want to know about you and your writing and your books. And that will prompt them to subscribe.

So the first step is to be real and engaging on social media (it is /social/ after all!) And then when you mention your newsletter (in a natural way) people will be willing to listen.

When I go to conferences (which is where I’m at right now), I pass around a clipboard for people to sign up. You can carry around a little notebook and then when you’re talking with family or friends and writing comes up, you can collect their email addresses.

Or, here are some other ways to gather email addresses:

  • Ask your friends and family. You can do this in person, or through a text, or via email.
  • Post a sign up sheet on your blog or website if you have one.
  • Host a giveaway of your favorite book and have people enter by signing up for your newsletter. You could give away Oreos. And then will sign up for your newsletter. 😉
  • Have an incentive for them to join. Maybe after they sign up you send them a link to your most recent short story or your first chapter. Or an Oreo coupon!

What to put in the newsletter

Okay, now the hard part…what to put in the newsletter? Now before you read some of my suggestions, stop here and make a little list of your own ideas.

Keep in mind that every newsletter is different. You want it to be something you enjoy writing and that still shares quality information with your readers.

Here are some things I include in my newsletter (which you can sign up for here):

  • An update on me— Because that’s half the reason people sign up for my newsletter — to keep up with me! I share what’s happening in my crazy life. (I’m doing crazy things quite frequently.)
  • I share what I’m currently reading. I love hearing what everyone’s currently reading and enjoy sharing the books I’ve got my nose glued into that month.
  • A summary of last month’s blog posts. — This way, anyone who’s not signed up for those or didn’t make it to my blog can still see what I posted.
  • Update on my writing — I share info about the cover design or new projects I’m working on.
  • A giveaway. — I give away a $10 Amazon gift card every month to a newsletter subscriber. This helps encourage people to sign up and…it’s fun! (For them and me!)

Other things you can include:

  • Links to other blogs that you like or articles that caught your attention.
  • Share trivia from the time period you write in (or the worlds of your favorite books.)
  • Share books you’re excited about that are releasing soon.
  • Have a Q&A
  • Talk about your favorite authors, share a favorite instagram/twitter/Tumblr/etc account.
  • Clips from your blog
  • Updates on life (moving, book contract, writing progress, graduation, etc.)

Another good practice is to sign up for other author newsletters to see how they do it and to get ideas!

That’s all for now, folks! There is so much more I could say, but my rule is not to let my blog posts turn into books. 😛 So I will stop here.

Any questions I can answer?

How is your newsletter going (if you have one)?

If you don’t yet have a newsletter, what’s stopping you? 🙂


About Nadine Brandes

Nadine Brandes is an adventurer, fusing authentic faith with bold imagination. She never received her Hogwarts letter, but rest assured she’s no Muggle (and would have been in Ravenclaw House, thank you very much.) This Harry Potter super-nerd has been known to eat an entire package of Oreos (family size) by herself, and watches Fiddler on the Roof at least once a year. She writes about brave living, finding purpose, and other worlds soaked in imagination. Her dystopian trilogy (The Out of Time Series) challenged her to pursue shalom, which is now her favorite word (followed closely by bumbershoot.) When Nadine’s not taste-testing a new chai or editing fantasy novels, she and her knight-in-shining armor (nickname: “hubby”) are out pursuing adventures.
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  1. Thanks for the info Nadine! I don’t have a newsletter yet, but I am going to try to start one in July! I just wrote my first blog post last week, so that’s a start 🙂 thanks for the great ideas and encouragement! 🙂

  2. Thanks for the great info. I especially like your suggestions for what might go in a newsletter. I started my newsletter at the same time as I started my blog, and I send out an update each month. I think it’s going pretty well. I’ve experimented with including different sorts of things in it, but I consistently include links to all my new blog posts. At some point I plan to write some short fiction to give away to subscribers to encourage more sign-ups, but I’ve been so occupied with my novel that I haven’t got around to it yet.

    • Thats great! It sound like you’ve got a good system down. I’m glad you’re experimenting, that’s the best way to figure out how your newsletter works best. I think the short fiction is a great idea! 🙂

  3. Yay newsletters!
    I’m at a conference too (go figure) but this is on my to do list as soon as I get back. And after conferencing, I’ll actually have something to write about!
    Thanks for the helpful tips!

  4. Love this article!! I recently started a newsletter, but I’m still working out the bugs in my approach. Quick question: what process do you use for selecting who gets the Amazon gift card each month? Do you just pick the person yourself, or do you have an automated way of randomly selecting a subscriber? I use MailChimp, but I don’t see any way to do a random pick like that.

  5. thank you, O newsletter goddess, for your timely tips and great advice. We’re not worthy! 😊

  6. This was so informative!!! 🙂

  7. What do you do about needing the physical address? Can I hide that on the newsletter itself? I don’t want to put my address on there for all to see.

    • I use a P O Box. You can’t hide it on the newsletter itself–it’s a requirement to have one. Some people use their home addresses, but I’ve found a P O Box to work best for me.

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