An email newsletter can be a nonfiction author’s best marketing investment. The newsletter will promote the launch of your book, boost post-launch book sales, and pave the way for an author’s future products and sales.
Newsletter marketing can help new authors build the market for their forthcoming book by sharing their qualifications to write a book and their market’s need for new resources. Experienced authors can promote their next book by writing about their previous experiences as an author and drawing attention to the favorable comments their previous book or books have received.
Benefits of using a newsletter to market your book
Everyone who publishes a newsletter enjoys many of the same benefits, including:
- Builds your “Writing power.” Writing is like physical exercise. A half-mile walk each day will not, overnight, result in a thinner physique, but, at the end of the month, your family and friends will notice the difference. Likewise, a consistent newsletter program will boost your confidence in your writing. At the end of a month, or so, you’ll begin to look forward to preparing your newsletter.
- As you prepare your newsletters, you’ll also be assembling an inventory of content for future use. You’ll be able to try out topics that you can expand in your book. New book topics are likely to emerge from writing your newsletter.
- Most important, your newsletters will help you build your email list of subscribers you can use to promote special events, like new courses or videos, as well as new books. You’ll also be able to build your visibility with influencers in your field.
Your newsletters can be your “secret weapon.” When you post a blog post or social media update, your competitors can easily see it and—if desired—react to it. But, for the most part, the contents of your newsletter are between you and your mailing list.
But not every nonfiction author is enjoying the full benefits of newsletter marketing. Often, they may be overlooking one, or more, of the following best practices.
Best practices for planning a newsletter program
Preparing to publish the first issue of your new book marketing newsletter or re-launching an existing newsletter requires addressing the following best practices before you publish your first issue or relaunch your newsletter.
- Commit to market education. Use your newsletters to educate and inform readers, rather than “sell” particular products or services. Your goal is to promote your expertise and develop your position as a “trusted expert.”
- Choose a meaningful and memorable title. Your newsletter title should identify your intended market and your newsletter’s purpose and benefit. Your name is not a newsletter title. For example, The Roger C. Parker newsletter does not offer a benefit. But Guerrilla Marketing & Design, one of my earlier titles as which did a better job describing its contents.
Likewise, Volvo Owner implies that your newsletter communicates suggestions and tips. Jaguar Enthusiast likewise promised pleasure-oriented reading.
Be guided by successful magazine titles when choosing a newsletter title. Visit a local Barnes & Noble and examine the magazine titles you’ll find there. You’ll find titles like Absolute Sound, Classic Trains, Fine Homebuilding, Flying, Prevention. Reader’s Digest. Sea Kayaker, Sight & Sound, Stereophile, Wooden Boat, etc.
You can create a distinct title by combining a word that relates to your newsletter’s topic with descriptive, benefit words like enthusiast, observer, progress, report, trends, update, etc. You can also try placing the descriptive word ahead of the category word, i.e. fine, modern, new, popular, progressive, etc.
Instead of using the word “and,” try using an ampersand in the title. The ampersand saves space and adds an interesting graphic element. One of my previous newsletters was Guerrilla Marketing & Design.
Rather than using your name as the title of your newsletter, position your name or your businesses name as the publisher of your newsletter. For example, you can place your name above the title, i.e. Roger C. Parker’s, or below the title, i.e. Published by Roger C. Parker.
- Choose a flexible title. Your newsletter title should relate to the topic of your book, but not duplicate your book’s title. If book and newsletter titles are the same, you might need to change the title of your newsletter to refer to the title of your latest.
- Commit to a practical publishing schedule. Strive for consistent visibility. Each issue reminds recipients of your presence. Remember: “Out of sight, out of mind.” Each on-time issue of your newsletter builds familiarity and reinforces your professional image. Soon, your followers will look forward to each new issue on the same day, or days.
- Don’t overpromise. Start by identifying your available time and budget resources. If you can, commit to publishing your newsletter on the same days, i.e. Tuesdays and Fridays, of each week. If you can’t, publish your book marketing newsletter on the Tuesdays of each week, the Tuesdays of every other week, or the first Tuesdays of every month. Remember, you can always increase your publication frequency as resources become available.
- Create a custom newsletter template. Your template should address both content and design issues. Design aspects include the location of the title, the size and placement of article headlines, subheads, text, captions, and pull-quotes.
- Use color with care. Color can easily add clutter to your newsletter. Colored headlines or backgrounds can distract a reader’s eyes away from adjacent text. Instead, use grey to highlight a text or graphic element. When applying color, less can be more effective.
- Select topics ahead of time. Instead of waiting until the last minute to select topics for each issue, prepare an editorial calendar for the next year, or at least, the next six months. That way, when you sit down to write, you won’t have to both select a topic and write about it. Knowing the topic of upcoming newsletters alerts your brain to be on the lookout for ideas that you can include in upcoming issues. When it comes to write, your brain will be prepared. Don’t concentrate on specific headlines or titles, just familiarize yourself with the topics of each newsletter.
- Survey your readers to identify the best newsletter title and design. Reader preference surveys should become a familiar part of your role as a nonfiction author. Title and content surveys, or surveys relating to layout and design preferences, are easy to prepare. Free online survey templates and result compilations are available for free from sources like survey monkey, but the information they provide is often invaluable. You can easily test the title of your newsletter and the topics most readers are interested in.
Best Practices for keeping your newsletter on schedule
The following newsletter best practices have worked for me as well as many of my clients and friends. The goal is to replace chaos and stress with habits that will improve the quality of your newsletters and keep them on schedule.
- Get an early start. If you’re publishing a Tuesday newsletter, don’t neglect your newsletter until Monday night or Tuesday morning. Stress increases as deadlines approach. Mistakes and typographic errors likewise increase as deadlines approach.
If you’re publishing a Tuesday newsletter, dedicate 45 minutes to an hour on the preceding Thursday to prepare the first draft. On Friday, or over the weekend, devote 30-45 minutes to reviewing and rewriting confusing parts of your Tuesday newsletter. Consider distributing a draft of your newsletter to a professional proofreader to review and proofread. This leaves Monday afternoon or evening to give your newsletter a final review and posting on your blog or website or sending via email.
- Address only one topic in each newsletter. Trying to do full justice to two or three topics in each newsletter takes more time for you to prepare or more time for subscribers to read. Reader retention is likely to go down if there is more than one topic and there is less time to do full justice to the topic.
- Welcome the role of constraints. One of the most important benefits that templates provide is to limit the length of your newsletters. I’ve found that the optimum length for a newsletter is about 750-800 words. This gives you enough space to do justice to a topic, but short enough to be encourage immediate reading now instead of postponing it until later. Aim for newsletters that can be read waiting for a traffic light to change. If you need more space than that, consider addressing the topic in two issues of your newsletter, or continue the topic on your blog, podcast, or blog.
- Promote each of your newsletters on your blog, social media, or your website, and to. Promotion can consist of pre-promotion with a one or two-sentence “Watch for the next issue of Name of Title which uncovers the latest advances in (topic).”
- Don’t date your newsletters. Instead, number each issue of your newsletter. Let’s say you published a newsletter on March 1st. Your newsletter will inevitably become “yesterday’s news” on March 2. By March 15, it will be dated. If you have numbered your newsletters, however, there is less reason to consider is outdated.
- Archive your newsletters. Consider creating a “home” for your newsletters on your website. Make it easy for your market to quickly locate previous copies of your newsletter. Providing a “library” of previous issues will also increase the SEO visibility of your website. You can also use your blog post or website to provide additional information or additional insights.
- Include a call to action at the end of each newsletter. This is an ideal place to insert URLs to your previously-written articles, blog posts, podcasts, and newsletters. The is not the place to shoehorn a description of a revenue-producing special event or video course. You can, however, offer a free teaser for a sample chapter from your current or upcoming book.
- Prepare a “special issue” of your newsletter to promote the launch of your book, or upcoming events like interviews. Avoid promoting the event within the editorial area of your newsletter. Instead, include a special page of your newsletter, or a special issue, to announce the special event.
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to preview one of my favorite newsletter formats or you’d like to know more about taking full advantage of a newsletter’s ability to become your most valuable book marketing tool.
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