By: Kristin A. Oakley
Don’t Wait…Start that Newsletter Now
For years, people told me to start a newsletter. After all, I had over 400 people on my email list. But I thought periodically sending a book release announcement, or upcoming author event was enough. And I wanted to get paid for my writing, not publish it for free.
Then I took a mastermind class with marketing guru Dan Blank of We Grow Media. Dan couldn’t believe I had so many people on my mailing list, and I wasn’t connecting with them. He changed my mind about newsletters.
That was almost five years ago, and since then, I’ve discovered five fundamental reasons why publishing a newsletter is so valuable for writers.
1. Newsletters Build Relationships with Your Readers
Years ago, like most debut novelists, I assumed that marketing your books meant begging people to buy them. Sure, I planned not to be too obvious while I begged, sending out pretty email announcements and fantastic giveaways, but it still felt like begging. I hated it.
After joining Dan Blank’s mastermind group, I realized that I was completely wrong. Book marketing is about building long-term relationships with readers, and the best way to do that is through a newsletter.
Of the over 100 newsletters I’ve published, only a handful encourage people to buy my books, and selling isn’t the main thrust. Instead, I share my writing life with readers and review books I’ve enjoyed.
Writing Life Newsletter: Taking My Readers on My Writing Journey
Starting in December of 2017, I followed Dan Blank’s advice and created a newsletter to help my readers understand my writing process. For instance, one of my recent newsletters explained designing the book cover for my soon-to-be-released young adult novel The Devil Particle.
Keeping my readers engaged in my writing process, I conducted a poll to determine the best cover design and included the poll results in my newsletter.
Through my writing life newsletter, subscribers have read about my struggles with writing and editing, experiences while attending conferences and teaching workshops, and my research adventures and discoveries about my characters. Readers who become invested in my stories are more likely to buy my books or recommend them to friends.
A Writer’s Book Club: A Book Review Newsletter
I also send out “A Writer’s Book Club each month.” I got this idea from listening to Author Valerie Francis interview Book Launch Expert Tim Grahl during their “Book Launch Show” podcast.
Tim told Valerie she needed to reach book lovers and writing monthly book reviews was the best way to go about it. Valerie calls her reviews “Valerie’s Book Club.”
Because I’ve titled mine “A Writer’s Book Club,” I add a paragraph explaining how the book has influenced my writing.
The books I review are generally in the same genre as my current work in progress—a young adult dystopian—but may also include any book that strikes my fancy.
I started my Writer’s Book Club just a few months ago and have received comments from readers who tell me they’ve loved a book as much as I have. This type of newsletter has an additional bonus—I can write my reviews well in advance.
2. Newsletters Get You into The Writing Habit
I’m a relatively slow writer. It takes me days, even weeks, to develop ideas and then more days or weeks to shape them. My first book, Carpe Diem, Illinois, took me six years to write. Its sequel, God on Mayhem Street, took four and a half.
But for my newsletter, I have to write something new every two weeks. It’s a good habit to get into. After a couple of years of writing newsletters, I’ve determined that publishing them every other Friday morning works best for me. Now I make sure I have something to publish.
3. Feeling a Sense of Accomplishment
Meeting my newsletter deadlines gets me in the writing habit and gives me an immediate sense of accomplishment. A deadline means I’m not waiting years to send my writing out into the world; I’m now doing it twice a month, and the more I write, the easier the ideas flow.
4. Immediate Feedback from Fans of the Newsletters
Every week I hear from at least one person who has read my newsletter. It’s wonderful to get that instant feedback. Readers tell me how much they enjoy hearing about my writing process or say what they liked about a book I’ve reviewed. It’s always a pleasant surprise to see who is touched by my words.
Another bonus is that I don’t feel as lonely, and most authors I’ve talked to feel isolated. With feedback, we’re encouraged to continue with our solitary pursuit.
5. Making Connections to Influencers
Because my newsletter goes out to both writers and readers, I often hear from writers who edit publications, run conferences or blogs, and invite me to offer a workshop or write for their publication. These connections have been invaluable and have led to more opportunities to reach additional readers. I’ve paid this forward by interviewing influencers and publishing those interviews in my newsletter.
Bonus Reason for a Newsletter: It’s Today’s Marketing for Writers
Gone are the days when publishers market authors’ books. Instead, whether you’re traditionally published or decide to go it on your own, you have to have a marketing plan and a good deal of marketing know-how. At a minimum, this means a professional-looking website and an email marketing service such as Mailchimp.
Through writing my newsletters, I have learned how my website interfaces with Mailchimp, and I now understand SEO (Search Engine Optimization), Keywords, Meta descriptions, and what a Featured Image is.
It was scary for someone semi-computer literate, and I’ve made many mistakes, but my laptop hasn’t blown up, and I now understand how it all fits together.
For those tough times when I’m completely lost (and those are becoming fewer and fewer), I turn to my website and marketing guru, Celeste Anton, at Dandelion Web Marketing.
So, I encourage you to start your newsletter and send it out to your email list. If you don’t have an email list, reach out to people one-on-one, tell them about your shiny new newsletter, and ask if you can add them to your email list. Once you get started, you’ll be glad you did!
Bio: Kristin A. Oakley
Kristin A. Oakley is the author of two award-winning suspense thrillers, Carpe Diem, Illinois, and God on Mayhem Street.
She teaches writing workshops, critiques manuscripts, and has helped writers hone their agent pitches. As a former Chicago Writers Association board member, she was the managing editor of The Write City Magazine and The Write City Review.
Kristin is writing a soon-to-be-released young adult thriller series called The Devil Particle Series.
You can also connect with Kristin through:
Or visit her website for book reviews and her continued journey as a writer and author.
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