Your author newsletter freebie is a success! You’ve got lots of new subscribers eager to read your next email.
You have two options: deliver just what your reader wants to ensure they stick around, or disappoint them so that they unsubscribe.
How can you increase your odds that your newsletter will do the former and not the latter?
These three tips should help.
1. Always Think About Your Reader.
One of the main reasons people unsubscribe from email newsletters is that they don’t find them interesting, entertaining, or useful.
Your newsletter will be none of these things if you neglect your reader’s wants and needs when you’re writing it.
Yes, authors maintain email newsletters to grow their readership, hoping to sell more books (and other products) down the road. But if someone signs up for your newsletter and all they get in return are emails encouraging them to buy your stuff, they’ll unsubscribe.
You’ll get a similar outcome if you spend most of your time talking about yourself and your next project without delivering anything of value for the reader.
“But my progress on my next book is of value to my reader!” you may think.
Well, if you’re Margaret Atwood or Stephen King, perhaps. But most of us haven’t reached that level of fame, so we have to be a little more creative.
When drafting your email, think of your reader first. Imagine if you were that person. What would you hope to find when you double-click?
You’d probably want something that would enhance your life—practical tips you could use, an entertaining story that might make you laugh, or pertinent information you need and can’t find anywhere else.
Which (or which combination) of these you deliver depends on the expectations you created in your reader’s mind when they signed up. Which brings us to tip #2.
2. Exceed Your Reader’s Expectations
Think back to the freebie you offered your reader. When they gave you their email address in exchange for that freebie, they assumed that in your newsletter, you would continue to deliver similar material.
This is assuming you were creative in your free offer. (See our post here for more on that.) If you offered a short story or chapter in a book, you may assume that your reader would want more of your writing. That may work with readers who are already fans, but often it’s difficult to get new people to sign up—or to stick around—for stories alone if they’re not that familiar with your work.
You can grow and maintain a much larger list if you offer something of more immediate value. Romance writers may offer dating tips, for example. Mystery writers may talk about true crime stories. Sci-fi writers may enjoy making predictions about the future of technology.
Whatever you offer in your freebie, your reader will expect more of that, so be prepared. If you offered dating tips, understand that your reader came to you for those. They’ll be happy with your newsletter if at least part of it meets this expectation.
You can go beyond that, of course, as long as you keep your reader’s needs in mind. You might talk about how to navigate certain disagreements in relationships, magical places to go for your anniversary, or the best topics to discuss on a first date.
Along the way, watch your open and click rates. (Most email programs track them.) Make a note of which emails perform well and use that information to continue to deliver what your readers are most interested in. Maybe they love dating tips, for example, but don’t care as much about navigating disagreements.
Once you deliver that “thing” of value to your reader, then you can add a little about your next project, or drop in an ad for a book that is on sale. You’ve made your reader happy, so they will be more open to learning about the work you’re doing and what you have to offer.
3. Be Consistent!
This is one of the harder parts of providing an email newsletter to your subscribers, because it requires commitment on your part.
Decide how often you’re going to send your newsletter and stick with it. Otherwise, you risk your reader forgetting all about you, so that when you finally send another newsletter, they’ll unsubscribe because they no longer remember signing up.
You can choose to send something once a month, twice a month, three times a month—whatever works, but once you’ve settled on a frequency and day of the week (sending on the same day each time is best), you need to stick with that.
There are many benefits to doing so. First, you cement your name and your work in your reader’s mind. Soon they will easily remember who you are and what you do.
Second, you create an expectation—your reader can expect an email from you twice a month on Wednesday mornings. If she likes what she finds, she’ll grow to look forward to those days. At the very least, she won’t penalize you for “bothering her,” because you’ve already set up the expectation of that regular delivery.
These relationships are the most rewarding part of having a newsletter. You’ll be able to turn to them when you need a book launch team, early buyers for a new work, or feedback on another project. They are the gold you’re mining for, and over time you’ll get “rich” as long as you consistently deliver what your readers want.
Note: Make 2024 your year when you pick up Colleen’s free goal-setting guide for writers!
What other questions do you have about growing and maintaining a newsletter list?
Colleen M. Story is a novelist, freelance writer, writing coach, and speaker with over 20 years in the creative writing industry. In addition to writing several award-winning novels, Colleen’s series of popular success guides, Your Writing Matters, Writer Get Noticed! and Overwhelmed Writer Rescue, have all been recognized for their distinction.
Colleen offers personalized coaching plans tailored to meet your needs, and frequently serves as a workshop leader and motivational speaker, where she helps attendees remove mental and emotional blocks and tap into their unique creative powers. Find out more about our RWC team here and connect with Colleen below. Free chapters | Writing and Wellness