I spoke to a group of authors at an event a couple weeks ago – I was surprised by a couple discussions about newsletters after the presentation. I’m a firm believer that authors should have their own newsletter on their author website.
If you don’t have a newsletter already – PLEASE, before you do anything else this week, sign up for a newsletter service and get it on your website THIS WEEK. The longer you wait, the more you might miss.
Why Should I Have My Own Newsletter?
There are four big reasons why you should get going on a newsletter: 1. It’s not more work 2. You have a direct line of communication to your readers 3. You are not relying on some other service 4. It gives you the power to drive sales,
It’s not more work
So many authors assume they need to send a newsletter every couple days, weeks, or month. The fact is that you only need to send something when you have something to say. I know plenty of authors that only send a newsletter every 6+ months (when they have a book release). It can be a copy of the blog post announcing your book or just a description of your book and buy links. It’s the same info you post to your social networks and on your blog.
A direct line of communication to your readers
When you post to social network, on average 17% of the people that follow you will see your post (it’s even less on Facebook). By being able to send something to their email, you can connect directly with your readers and make sure they are aware that you have a new book out!
You are not relying on some other service
Part of the “author platform” strategy that I advocate is to build your audience and collect them. Whether it is Facebook, Twitter, Google+ Goodreads or something else, social networks rise and fall. Remember Myspace? Imagine spending years building up an audience only to have them all go somewhere else. Or building a huge audience on Facebook only to find that their “tweaks” make it harder to get your post out to all of the people who have liked your page (without paying Facebook advertising).
This is the big one. A good newsletter of fans can drive 20 to 40% of it’s members to buy your book. Think about that for a minute. If you have 1000 fans on your newsletter list – 200 to 400 people go buy your book at around the same time. Yes, this will bounce your book into the top 10 of most categories at Amazon. It’s powerful! This only works if you’re filling the list with real fans 🙂 So start collecting them now!!!!
How to get started
First, check with your web hosting provider to see what they offer. We used Dreamhost’s announce list feature for a long time. It was very basic, but did the job. When we were ready for a better service (nicer looking newsletters, better website integration) we moved over to other services.
I’ve found Aweber to be the easiest to use and most intuitive solution on the market. The downside is that they charge even if you’re just getting started. I used Aweber for a long time and recently consolidated my account with my wife’s (seemed strange to pay twice for a service).
It was easiest to move multiple lists to Mailchimp (without re-confirming all of our list members), so it’s currently the provider we use. We’ve always had a pay account due to the number of subscibers, but they offer a FREE account for up to 2000 subscribers to your mailing list! One warning though, be careful with any affiliate links in a free account. It’s against the Mailchimp terms of the free account and they can close your list if they feel like you’re abusing it. If you’re using a free account, it’s still ok to link directly to your book on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Google, ITunes, Kobo or anywhere else 🙂
Marketers that say you “don’t need a newsletter”
I should mention that there are a couple marketing sites that argue that you don’t need a newsletter. I’d encourage you to look a little closer if you come across one of these articles…ALL of these marketing sites have newsletters – they just don’t call them newsletters. They say things like “subscribe for updates” or “get our blog posts in your inbox.” Make no mistake, these are newsletters that use RSS to grab the most recent blog post and send it to readers.