Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Why a Newsletter by Margaret Brownley

One of my favorite author newsletters comes from Margaret Brownley. I like the way it looks, the short and sweet information about her books, and her fun little tidbits. Today, Margaret shares her tips for creating appealing newsletters. -- Sandy 

Why a Newsletter?
Some people say that social media has made newsletters or ezines irrelevant, but I disagree. If done right, a newsletter is a great way to promote your brand, connect with readers and, of course, sell books.   
Getting Started
Some people design and mail newsletters themselves using free templates found on the Internet. That's how I got started. However, once my subscriber numbers reached into the thousands I soon learned the advantages of using a newsletter service.  
I especially like the fact that new subscribers can be added or dropped through the service, saving a hassle. There will always be a certain number of bounces, unsubscribes and new additions. Handling these might not be a big deal in the beginning but as your subscriber list grows a service can save valuable time. I use Constant Contact and am impressed with their support team, but there are others and most give free trials. Whether you handle it yourself or use a service be sure to use a mobile friendly template.
What's the Cost?
There's a human cost of course, as building a newsletter does take time, especially in the beginning. But once your template is set you'll find you can put it together in a couple of hours. Monetary costs are a bit tricky to sort out as each newsletter service has its own peculiar pricing method, but expect to pay around $20 a month for 500 subscribers. Mailchimp lets you send newsletters free up to 2000 subscribers, but you'll have to pay if you want any special features.  Many authors prefer to send quarterly newsletters. My service allows me to suspend my account for a nominal fee on the months I don't send out a newsletter.    
How to Get Subscribers
Many newsletter services have list-building tools which include Facebook and mobile apps. An effective way to gain subscribers is to run a contest. Also, be sure to give readers an opportunity to sign up during public appearances. Anyone signing up through my website is added to my monthly drawing for free books.
Give Subscribers a Reason to Read Your Newsletter
If you send a marketing tool that shouts "buy my books" subscribers will soon lose interest. Give them something fun or useful.  Make it chatty. Include a recipe or handy hint.  I like sending out fun facts that I come across during my research. I always give away a book or two with each edition as a way of saying thank you to my readers. 
Tracking Your Success
A newsletter service makes tracking a breeze. You get an idea who opened it and when, plus the number of link clicks. Industry stats allow you to compare your opens with others in your field. Keep in mind that the reports aren't always accurate. Newsletters are tracked through images and clicks. Some readers block images and not everyone will click on a link, so these opens won't be counted.    
The Importance of Having Fun
The more fun I have putting the newsletter together, the better the results. So go creative and have a blast. While you're at it, add my name to your subscriber list.

Need a Sample?

Here's the link to one of my newsletters:

Have you created an author newsletter? Do you have any successful ideas for the rest of us to use to make ours more appealing? What do you like to see in another author's newsletter? What do you NOT want to see?

Margaret is a CBA/NY Times bestselling author and past Romance Writers of America RITA finalist with more than 35 books to her credit, including her new release Undercover Bride. She's also written for a CBS daytime soap. Margaret and her husband have three grown children and make their home in Southern California.