Starting an Author Newsletter Before Winning a Book Contract

Writers often wonder how to start a newsletter before their book is released. The process might not seem to make sense when you’re publishing a newsletter to promote yourself as an author. However, since a newsletter is meant to establish a relationship with potential fans, being in communication with readers is a great idea. Here are some strategies:

  • Include personal tidbits. You aren’t an author yet, so think about what you’d say to the new volunteer at church you’d like to get to know better. You can share some personal aspects of your life without disregarding safety and the privacy of others. Perhaps you can share your pet’s antics. Vacation photos shared well after your return may be an option.
  • Promote other authors. Who are your favorites? Authors you’ve been reading for years deserve to be discovered by your newsletter readers.
  • Promote other books. Is an author you enjoy breaking into a different genre? Have you discovered a new author or type of book you like? Let readers know.
  • Share the travails of the publishing process. Talk about your publishing journey.
  1. Having trouble writing proposal or struggling with Chapter Two? People with any day job can relate to toiling on their least-favorite aspect of work.
  2. Anxious about submitting your work to agents? Everyone has been nervous. They’ll get it.
  3. Rejection letters? We’ve all been rejected. Learning we are not alone is one reason everyone enjoys connecting.
  4. An offer of representation? By now, your readers are rooting for you and will be happy.
  5. Sending the manuscript off to editors? Another point of excitement and nervousness. Let your readers feel these emotions with you.
  6. A contract offer! Joy!
  7. Now that you have news about your book, readers will be thrilled to follow along. Now they are invested in you and most will want to read your book because they now feel as though you are a friend.

Your turn:

What is your favorite author newsletter?

What do you like to read about in author newsletters?

Did you start a newsletter before you got a book contract? What tips can you offer?

 

42 Responses to Starting an Author Newsletter Before Winning a Book Contract

  1. Brennan McPherson June 14, 2018 at 3:56 am #

    In case any authors don’t know where to start, there are myriad free mass email service providers that you can use to set up your newsletter for free, like Mailchimp, which I use and find to be easy, quick, and intuitive. Another free one that seems quite good (especially for authors) is Mailerlite, though I haven’t used it.

    I didn’t start a newsletter before my first book contract, and wish desperately that I had. It’s like when you look back at your teenage pictures and think, “…I was a doofus.” If only to figure out the basics and not have your email list be just ONE more thing you have to learn while in the midst of fulfilling your (countless overwhelming) duties to your publisher. The first time is a real learning curve.

  2. Rebekah Love Dorris June 14, 2018 at 5:12 am #

    My favorite email newsletter is by Bethany Jett for Serious Writer. Granted, it’s got a slew of info from a lot of sources, but to me, that’s a bonus. I’ve encouraged a friend to use it as a template because it’s a great example of a clean, simple email newsletter that’s consistent, professional, and positive. It’s always packed with great info, and I encourage anyone seeking advice about developing their writing platform to check it out at SeriousWriter.com.

  3. Loretta Eidson June 14, 2018 at 6:29 am #

    Since I’m having my website updated (coming soon), I know a newsletter is next on my list. Thank you for this article. I’ll have to keep it handy as a reminder of what I can share when my mind won’t think. Haha!

  4. Andrew Budek-Schmeisser June 14, 2018 at 6:30 am #

    One thing I’d suggest is that there’s value-added; a free download of a short story or devotional, made Kindle-friendly with a nice cover.

    It gives people an incentive to open the newsletter when it arrives in the Inbox, and serves as a hook to get potential readers engaged with your work.

  5. Sharon K. Connell June 14, 2018 at 6:37 am #

    Great advice, Tamela. Wish I had read this when I first started writing.

    My first newsletter didn’t come out until after my fourth book was published. However, my newsletter is packed with personal tidbits including tips on writing, promotion of other authors and books beside my own. And I always have articles or small sections written by other writers and authors.

    It’s important to keep promoting others beside yourself.

    Thank’s for writing this. Your articles are always so informative. I’ve shared it on my group forum.

  6. Shirlee Abbott June 14, 2018 at 6:37 am #

    Can I be honest? I sign up for newsletters, and I intend to read them all. But time is a problem, and many eventually get deleted with just a quick scan or no scan at all. I suspect that I’m not alone in this. We should all take Rebekah’s comment about “clean, simple . . . consistent, professional and positive” to heart. We owe our readers value in every word. And that’s why I don’t yet have a newsletter. I’m sorting out (praying about) how I want it to be.

    • Rebekah Love Dorris June 14, 2018 at 6:43 am #

      😀

      And you’re not alone, Shirlee. Deleting emails can feel as satisfying as swatting flies!

    • Tamela Hancock Murray June 14, 2018 at 9:32 am #

      You have a good point, Shirlee! I doubt I’d have time to read all the books I’d like to read if I stopped everything else today — much less wonderful newsletters. This is a great reminder that all of us need to be mindful of our readers’ valuable time. I’m glad you were honest!

  7. Tracey Dyck June 14, 2018 at 6:55 am #

    I’ve been thinking a lot about starting a newsletter! One point of difficulty for me is deciding how to differentiate it from my blog, where I’m already sharing tidbits about myself, my writing journey, and great books. Should I stop offering some of that on my blog, in order to move it into newsletter form? Or keep the blog as is and come up with a new approach to the newsletter?

    • Tamela Hancock Murray June 14, 2018 at 9:33 am #

      Maybe make the content a little different — perhaps book reviews and author promotion on the blog, but personal news about your publishing journey in the newsletter. Or the opposite! Whatever you feel comfortable doing.

      Maybe others here will have good pointers, too!

    • Julie Christian June 15, 2018 at 4:29 am #

      Tracey,

      I create and publish newsletters and blogs for attorneys (and have done ONE for myself).

      Here are the differences between a blog and a newsletter:
      1. You can write a blog post about anything at any time and post it on your website.
      2. You want to ONLY send your newsletter out when you have something important to say to your readers…say, maybe, once a month.
      3. You may put a short blurb about a blog post that you want to draw your readers attention to in a newsletter.
      4. The newsletter should be something that is compelling enough to make your subscriber SHARE with a friend. That increases your subscriptions! (If you can’t get them to share with your writing, try giving away free stuff, that sometimes helps).

      In short, you can share personal tidbits on your blog…but try to dive deeper in your newsletter. Your newsletter is almost like the “inside scoop.”

      We are writers, so we have a tendency to leave everything about our personal thoughts and lives out there. It is our nature! But think of it this way, you have to hold a little bit back to keep their interest. And that little bit you hold back is their reward for subscribing to the newsletter!

      We are all on a journey! I have no trouble figuring out the newsletter. On the other hand, I have a difficult time growing the subscriber list.

      Thank you Tamela for always encouraging us to be the best in an industry of superstars.

  8. Debb June 14, 2018 at 8:36 am #

    Great post – thank you Tamela. I really like Dani Pettrey’s newsletter because it’s varied but always encouraging. I finish reading and am always inspired to go and write and strive to be better. Just lately she’s been interviewing DeeHenderson which has been fascinating.

    Kelly Goshorn is just starting her newsletter but it has great tidbits about her research and that’s always fun to read.

    I will now go and give starting my own some serious thought and prayer.

  9. Kelly Goshorn June 14, 2018 at 10:01 am #

    Thank you, Debb for the shout out. It’s nice to hear. Sometimes you do wonder if what you offer has value to reader.

  10. Beth Fortune June 14, 2018 at 10:27 am #

    This is so helpful Tamela. I too am having a new website designed and am in the process of working on a newsletter. So much to think about. Thank to the others for good newlsletter examples. Always learning on the writing journey!

  11. Angela Carlisle June 14, 2018 at 11:10 am #

    I am pre-published and started a newsletter last fall. Mine are generally short. I do try to incorporate writing journey news like short stories published or when I signed with my agent earlier this year. Sometimes a recipe (especially around a major holiday). And I always have some type of giveaway – maybe a magazine with one of my stories and/or a book that I also review in the newsletter. Often I choose a short, inexpensive book (maybe a Love Inspired), but if I find a full-length novel in my genre that I’m crazy about, I go ahead and choose that.

  12. Barbara Harper June 14, 2018 at 11:57 am #

    This is just what I have been wondering about – how to start a author newsletter (and blog, Facebook page, etc., etc.) when I haven’t been published yet. So thanks for the tips! I’ve had a blog for years, but it’s a hodgepodge (as many blogs were when I first started.) So I have been wrestling with whether to transform that one or start a new one, and the thoughts about differentiating between a blog and a newsletter were helpful, too.

  13. Sheri Dean Parmelee June 14, 2018 at 1:02 pm #

    My favorite newsletter is the agent blog postings, which are different from newsletters but very informative (present company is most definitely included!).
    I have a new author page on Facebook- does that count?

    • Tamela Hancock Murray June 14, 2018 at 1:08 pm #

      Well, aren’t you lovely for saying so! Thank you!

      I think you can use your author page to encourage people to subscribe to your newsletter.

  14. Debra Torres June 14, 2018 at 1:58 pm #

    Hi Tamela, I guess I’m confused about the newsletter vs. the blog post. Long ago when I first started my Christian devotional blog, I sent out email newsletters to subscribers via AWeber and then MailChimp. The newsletters always contained an image and just a little bit of text that encouraged people to click over to my blog. Here’s where the complete story was located.

    Do you mean writers should just send out newsletters and not write blog posts? Is this preferred for writers who are growing their audience?

    P.S. I really liked how you encouraged writers to promote other writers. It makes sense.

    • Tamela Hancock Murray June 14, 2018 at 2:08 pm #

      Thanks for asking! There’s nothing wrong with asking readers to click on to your blog. What you’re going for, though, is being able to say, “I have ##### of newsletter subscribers. This means people have opted in to hearing from you via newsletter.

      With a blog, people can drop in and out at will and you may or may not ever see their email addresses, whereas you have an email address database of newsletter subscribers. I hope that helps!

  15. Robin Mason June 14, 2018 at 3:23 pm #

    i enjoy reading what other authors are up to – especially what they struggle with. only because i can relate!! of course new books coming out, etc. i do have a newsletter but as yet it [but another] blog post until i sort through a subscription provider (i.e. mail chimp.)
    i have in mine: who’s here and where ya at; books i’ve read; reminder to post reviews (not mine only); blog and website updates; news of current / future writing projects; personal / family bits. i close with my manifesto and author tag.
    i post quarterly, and am *hoping* to wade through the tutorial to actually create a sign-up and mailing list this time…

  16. Melissa Henderson June 14, 2018 at 3:46 pm #

    This is great information. Thank you.

  17. Julie Christian June 15, 2018 at 4:34 am #

    Tamela,

    Thank you so much for your advice on newsletters. Do you have any tips for getting more subscribers? This is where I struggle. Perhaps another blog post?

  18. Michelle Aleckson June 15, 2018 at 8:01 am #

    Thanks so much for these tips. Exactly what I needed!

  19. Daphne Woodall June 19, 2018 at 8:44 am #

    I like Julie’s comment that your newsletter should give ‘an inside scoop’. I’ve been looking at website options but had not given thought to a newsletter.

    Being an unpublished author is like a mouse in a maze. Or which came first the chicken or the egg. And all while trying to write.

    I like reading all the suggestions. I will say I enjoy Lisa Carter’s newsletters because they are a quick read, informative and not too often.

    And the Steve Laube blog is one of the best for advice in the industry. Thanks for this post on newsletters

  20. Erendira Ramirez-Ortega June 26, 2018 at 9:27 pm #

    I am so glad you suggested we could add the travails of the publishing process as content for our newsletter. Good points there on your list that I’ll consider for my newsletter.

    Some of my favorite newsletters are: Erika Dreifus, The Practicing Writer. Jane Friedman, Electric Speed. I also subscribe to Ella Frances Sanders, The Sometimes Newsletter and Jana Marie, The Sunday Letters. I also love the Five Minute Friday by Kate Motaung.

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