August 4, 2016

Self Publishing? What’s Your Newsletter Plan? — Part One

Stick figure at a chalkboard with text: What's Your Newsletter Plan?

It’s time once again for my monthly guest post over at Janice Hardy’s Fiction University. We’ve been exploring the choices for what path we want to follow in our indie publishing career, and today, we’re continuing to dig deeper into how to walk our chosen path.

My series about Indie Publishing Paths at Fiction University has highlighted some of the choices we have to make and given us a few guidelines for figuring out how to make the best decisions for us.

We started off talking about knowing our goals. The retailers’ “rules” and best practices for self-publishing constantly change, so we need to have an understanding of why we’re choosing certain paths so we can adapt as the industry changes.

Depending on our priorities, we might make different choices about distribution, release schedules, or pricing. I focused on each of those areas in the previous segment of the series, calling them the where, when, and how much of our decision process.

My most recent set of posts in the series focused on how to make the most of those choices we made. We’re in the midst of a discussion on how to keep our readers after they finish our book, and so far we’ve covered:

Janice Hardy's Fiction University banner

One of the other methods mentioned in Part One for how to hold on to our readers from book to book was to communicate with them via a newsletter. We have many options for how to utilize this tool—depending on our goals and philosophies—so we’re going to spend the next few entries of this series concentrating on our newsletter choices.

A newsletter is one of the most important tools we have at our disposal for promoting our new releases or backlist of books, as well as for forming connections with our readers.

If we set it up well, our newsletter subscribers can be the force that help us succeed, whether our goals are to reach new readers or improve our income. Unlike social media platforms that we don’t control or reaching out to random others with advertising and promotions, newsletters can be a source of dedicated fans eager to hear our news.

However, if we don’t follow a few “best practices,” our newsletter strategy will suffer. We can miss out on opportunities to grow our list of subscribers, or we can lose the subscribers we have.

In this month’s post at Fiction University, I’m covering the basics of those best practices so that we can all start in the right direction. With the right approach, we can start finding our readers even before we publish.

For example, I had a “New Release”-specific newsletter (i.e., separate from my “new blog post” newsletter) set up from the very beginning of my site here. After 2 years (and still far from published at the time), I had 93 reader-subscribers.

(These 93 were readers only, not also signed up for my writer-focused New Blog Post newsletter.).

93 might not seem like much, but for an unpublished author still 3 years away from my debut (or even sending my first newsletter!), those were all subscribers I hadn’t done anything to “earn” yet. So they were all a bonus.

From then to now, 77 of those 93 are still subscribers, and about half of those have opened one of my most recent newsletters. In other words, there’s no reason not to start collecting names right away because old contacts aren’t necessarily bad contacts. So come learn those best practices. *smile*

I hope you’ll join me at Fiction University for this month’s post!

Do you have a newsletter signup yet? If not, why not? (I share in my Fiction University post how to start one even if you don’t have a website yet—no excuses. *grin*) If you have a newsletter, at what point in your publishing journey did you start it? What best practices do you follow?

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Clare O'Beara

Yes, I have a newsletter, and I respect my readers’ time. I don’t plaster them with mails or ads. I spellcheck and get my husband to spellcheck as well. He inserts the links and we test them in a sample mailing before it goes live.


[…] week, I shared my monthly self-publishing-focused post over at Janice Hardy’s Fiction University, and this week kicks off a short series of monthly posts from Janice that she’s sharing with […]


[…] writers swear by their newsletters as a marketing tool. Jami Gold discusses your newsletter plan, and Phil Teague lays out a quick start guide to using […]

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