News for Authors

Newsletter Know-How: Ways to Effectively Reach Readers

by Mary Stone|November, 2015

The most important thing to keep in mind when developing your newsletter is that you are writing for people who actively want to hear from you. A newsletter is a great way to get your most-invested readers interested in your new book and to keep in touch between publications. You can also use it to draw attention to your social media channels or find new followers.

With that in mind, here’s a rundown of the type of content you might include:

  • Specific book & publication details
  • Anecdotes from research or the writing process
  • Articles/current events of interest
  • Photos/behind the scenes information
  • Important links:
    • Retailer links: Your marketing contact can supply you with custom trackable links to all our retail partners
    • Social media links (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, YouTube)
    • Author website link
    • Subscribe/unsubscribe link

There is no golden rule for newsletter frequency, though we suggest that you will be most effective if you send them on a regular, consistent basis—whether that means once per week, month, or quarter. Where you are in the publication process for your next book may impact how often you decide to send out newsletters—for example, you might decide to post them more frequently around your publication date, as you have more to talk about. You may also want to keep links to old newsletters on your website so readers can go back and see previous editions.

 

Before Publication

Your marketing and editorial teams can help you map out the best moments to share news about your book with your readers in the months leading up to publication. While every publication is different, here are some general milestones to consider turning into newsletter content:

  • Book announcement: Send out a message to your subscribers to officially “break” news of your new book by revealing the title, on-sale date, and, if available, the approved book jacket. You could include the official book description here, or share personal anecdotes about the writing process. Your marketing team can provide you with trackable retailer links so subscribers can learn more and preorder the book from the retailer of their choosing. A note on timing: A book announcement should happen after online retailers are showing information about your book, which will generally happen between six and nine months in advance of publication, and should be in line with any media-reveal announcements coordinated by your marketing/publicity teams.
  • Excerpt release: Work with your editor to select a short excerpt to share with your readers. You can include the excerpt in the body of the newsletter, or link back to your site where the full excerpt lives. If you have a first serial excerpt being published, consider sending an email that links to the online excerpt once it is live or mentions the publication that includes the excerpt in print (e.g., “Read it in this month’s issue of Vanity Fair”). Always include retailer links so readers can click to order your book from their favorite book retailer after reading the excerpt.
  • Countdown messaging: Remind your readers when your book is coming out with a countdown email. Depending on how often you send newsletters, this could be one month or one week in advance of publication. This is a great tool to dial up excitement and remind readers of how and when they can buy your book; consider this your hard sell.
  • Tour reveal: If you have events or a tour planned at publication, send an email revealing the dates and locations, and be sure to link back to where the tour details live on your site (or the events’ sites) so readers can find that information.
  • Publication day: The long road to publication is over, and your book is now on sale! Send a newsletter to your readers celebrating publication day and reminding them they can purchase the book today from their retailer of choice.

 

After Publication

Regardless of where you are in the publication process, you want to keep your readers primed to hear from you on a regular basis, so it’s important to keep up newsletters after or in between publications. Determining what content to share during this time can sometimes seem more difficult, as it seems like there is less for authors to say. However, this can be a great time to build warm relationships with readers. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Musings on the research or writing process for your next book
  • Short original essays (related or unrelated to your publication)
  • What are you reading? Your subscribers are readers, so let them know what you’re enjoying and recommending
  • Social media recruiting: Let your subscribers know where they can find you on social media so they also become followers
  • Giveaways & exclusive offers
  • Q&As with other authors or relevant personalities

 

Amplify & Grow via Social Media

You may find that much of the content you’re including in newsletters overlaps with what you’re putting out on other websites, blogs, and social media, and that’s okay! That said, not all social media content is appropriate for a newsletter. Your newsletter should highlight the most important information related to your book or contain longer-form content or other material not suitable for social media. Also, when you are emailing your subscribers, keep in mind that they actively want to hear from you, so you can speak to them specifically as fans that have knowledge of you and your book(s).

Growing a subscriber list will take time, but here are a few ways to drive newsletter sign-ups:

  • Make sure every newsletter has a subscribe button in order to capture recipients who received it from a friend. (Sample language: If this email was forwarded and you would like to subscribe to our email list, click here.)
  • Include a sign-up field on the homepage of your website
  • Cross-pollinate on social media: Schedule tweets and Facebook posts linking directly to your sign-up page
  • Consider including breaking news or content exclusively in your newsletter, and tease to reveals across social media
  • If you have a Facebook author page, add a “Sign Up” button so your fans can easily join your mailing list
  • Consult with your marketing team and consider social media ad campaigns on Facebook (including the new lead ad placement) and Twitter

 

Lastly, for a refresher on the technical side of creating a newsletter, be sure to watch our author webinar on “Email Marketing Tips and Tricks.”

 

Mary Stone is Marketing Manager for the Viking and Riverhead imprints of Penguin Random House.