A while back, when I was asking for ideas and topics to enhance A Writer of History, a group of authors prompted a discussion about newsletters. It began with this question from Harriet Cannon:
What do you think is the sweet spot frequency for a blog or newsletter in these times of so much internet content?
Harriet went on to say: Everyone who writes is being advised to have either a newsletter or blog or both plus multiple presence on social media. In discussions with peers, writers and friends, I have found people are not happy about duplication advice and content overload. Methinks we may be on the cusp of consumer rebellion.
Author Tema Frank continued the discussion: I worked in digital marketing for years. As much as frequency annoys people, one does sell more with frequent (at least weekly) newsletters. That said, unless your goal is to reach the lowest common denominator, I’d advise against that, because it also irritates a lot of people. Ideally for people like us monthly would be good. Monthly is frequent enough to keep your name in front of people, but not so often that you’ll annoy them. Once or twice a year is not enough to help you build any kind of connection with your readership.
I added a few comments: I’m in the camp of sending a quarterly newsletter (at times less than that). As a positive indication that this strategy might work, I get only a few unsubscribes with each letter (less than 5). In terms of content, I have a few regular items (one called On the Reading Front, another called On the Blogging Front), plus a bit about whatever I’m currently writing. And I always end on a personal note – something about family, friends, activities and so on.
I do not use the newsletter for book promotion unless it’s a release newsletter. Although, there is usually a cover photo with an embedded link. In terms of engagement – which is what it’s all about! – my open rates are good and I get one or two responding emails for each newsletter. I’m sure there are folks much better at this than me.
And what do others say?
From a Forbes 2018 article titled Why Newsletters Suck and How to Do Successful Email Marketing, “if you can delight people by sharing unique insights with them on a regular basis, email is probably the first place you should focus your brand-building energy.”
From Business News Daily, I found a July 2023 article As Trust in Online Media Drops, Email Newsletters Drive Engagement. “Studies suggest that the reason for the high engagement rates is that email newsletters usually require people to opt in, meaning they have actively sought that particular content.”
In April, the folks over at BookBub compiled some data about author newsletters. Their research of over 500 authors supports the value of newsletters. Here’s one insight: “We asked authors to describe the purpose or goal of their newsletter, and many of their answers concerned the unique opportunities email offers to connect directly with readers. These authors see email as more personal and reliable than other channels.” I’ve attached a few of the graphics BookBub posted – check the article for more!
What do you enjoy about author newsletters? Do you prefer newsletters or author posts on social media? What would you prefer to see on an author’s newsletter? What advice or tips can you share?
PS – I have a confession to make. I haven’t sent out a newsletter in over a year. Definitely should get back to it!
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M.K. Tod writes historical fiction. Her latest novel is THE ADMIRAL’S WIFE, a dual timeline set in Hong Kong. Mary’s other novels, PARIS IN RUINS, TIME AND REGRET, LIES TOLD IN SILENCE and UNRAVELLED are available from Amazon, Nook, Kobo, Google Play and iTunes. She can be contacted on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads or on her website www.mktod.com.