By Christina Lorenzen
Most writers spend hours every day on social media, whether Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. Spending so much time, one would think social media platforms are the best way to keep in touch with readers. However, with the good there is always the bad and social media is no exception.
It seems like there’s always something happening on Facebook (#deleteFacebook as I write this) or Twitter that should have you consider what would happen if they all went away. How will you stay in touch with those readers you spent so much time building a relationship with? Newsletters. If Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram fell by the wayside, there are several reasons why a newsletter is invaluable to you as a writer.
While Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are hopping, you may also remember that some are now in the heap pile (MySpace, and Friendster come to mind). While people from those now defunct spaces may have moved to the three most popular platforms today, it’s a reminder that another means of staying in touch is vital for writers.
Enter good old fashioned email.
A newsletter keeps you and your books in your reader’s mind. It’s ideal for sharing little bits about your life and writing. Readers love getting a behind the scene peek. One of my favorite authors loves chocolate as much as I do. Another shops at Target just like me. My favorite newsletters are ones with pictures of the author’s writing space. Oh, the envy!
For information about privacy policies and collecting emails visit https://www.ftc.gov/tips-advice/business-center/guidance/can-spam-act-compliance-guide-business
While social media is great for talking to readers, a newsletter is the place to chat one on one. This past year has shown us how human contact and staying in touch is so vital. Writers saw in-person writing events canceled, rescheduled, and canceled again. A newsletter is a great way to ‘meet up’ with readers when we can’t do so in person. With so many people spending more time at home, what better way to keep in contact?
Like social media, a newsletter is about building a relationship. Most writers tend to be introverts so a newsletter is an easy way to let readers get to know you. There are so many ways to do that. You can share your favorite recipes, places to visit, movies. The difference is when a reader leaves Facebook or Twitter, you may lose touch. Building an email list for a newsletter becomes invaluable in this way. People check their email. Wouldn’t it be great for them to find something there from you?
Every writer has been there. The slump. Maybe that short story isn’t gelling. Maybe the book proposal has been rejected. Again. You’re at what I call ‘the in-between’. No assignments, no deadlines, and you’re just free falling. Nothing kills creativity faster than not having anything to write. Writers write and while it may be a cliché, it’s true that writing begets more writing. For those times when you’re in between, a newsletter is a great way to hone your writing skills. It’s a creative resource and what you write is all up to you.
Having a newsletter gets your BICHOK (butt in chair hands on keyboard) during those times when you may be tempted to blow it off and hit the couch. A newsletter deadline helps you keep writing and stay productive. Once you announce a newsletter is forthcoming you won’t want to let your readers down. They’re waiting. Get that newsletter out.
This is the fun part of a newsletter. While you might sometimes feel full of yourself constantly posting about your latest book, article, award, or contract on social media, your newsletter is the perfect place that stuff. Share about your new book. Your subscribers are your first line of buyers. Let them know you’re going to be a guest blogger. You might just see some of them in the comments. And if you’re holding a contest (a subscriber favorite), let them know how to enter and what they could win. Newsletters are also the best place to give your readers content only subscribers are privy to. In fact, promising subscriber only content is a sure fire way to get readers to sign up to begin with.
BUT… remember that your newsletter is for them. Signing up is easy. Keeping them subscribed is a whole other game. And you can do that by sharing what’s going in your writing life by making readers feel they’re a part of it. I’ve watched one of my favorite author’s children grow up through her blog. Her daughter is getting married soon and I’m almost as excited as she is. Let them know how grateful you are for their being such loyal subscribers. This is where an occasional contest comes in handy. Readers love winning prizes. It can be as simple as a signed copy of one of your books or a bookmark. Let them know that without them you wouldn’t be here. Because you wouldn’t. Without readers where would writers be?
When you’re getting started, finding a balance in how often you send your newsletter out can be tricky. You certainly don’t want to bombard them weekly. You may not have enough news to share monthly. I’ve found a quarterly newsletter is just the right fit for me.
As I mentioned, letting readers know they will be getting content not found anywhere else is a good way to start getting sign ups. You could start by holding a contest readers can enter after subscribing. Many authors offer a free short story upon subscribing to their newsletter. It takes time. You might be disappointed to find only a handful of subscribers in the beginning. Take heart. Like anything else, it takes time to build up an email list. Be sure to let readers and followers on social media know you have a newsletter. Keep sending your newsletters out and slowly you will see your list grow. In no time, you’ll find yourself in hundreds, perhaps thousands, of email boxes.
Check out PPW’s newsletter for some great content that might spark some ideas for your own newsletter. You only need to be a member to subscribe and if you’re a member who hasn’t received the newsletter contact the newsletter editor at: email@example.com
Christina started writing as a young teen, jotting stories in wire ring composition notebooks. Her first typewriter made it faster to get all those stories out of her head and down on paper. Her love of writing has sustained her through a myriad of jobs that included hairdresser, legal secretary, waitress and door-to-‑door saleswoman.
Luckily for her, writing proved to be successful and a lot less walking than going door to door. She’s the author of ten romance books and is now exploring the fun world of cozy mystery writing. When she isn’t writing or reading, she can be found walking her dog, talking to her herd of cats and spending time with her family. Her books are available on Amazon.