Having a newsletter is a great way to keep in touch with your readers, but you want to make sure it's something they look forward to and not just another addition to their already-full in-boxes. Here are some suggestions for how to do it right:

 


Constant Contact and MailChimp are both excellent newsletter tools

  • DO use a professional newsletter program such as MailChimp, Constant Contact or other email marketing tools. MailChimp is free for up to 2,000 subscribers, and Constant Contact's monthly fees are quite low. The programs are easy to use and allow you to insert logos and imagery consistent with your branding. They also allow people to subscribe (and unsubscribe) easily, which means that you have a real list of people who want to hear from you. I'm on a few blind-copy email lists that always end with "If you want me to take you off this mailing list, just let me know." I find that awkward because I don't want to be on the lists but also don't want to reply to the authors directly and ask to be removed, so I just mark them as spam.

 

  • DON'T automatically add everyone you meet to your mailing list. You can certainly tell me about it, and if I want to be on it I will subscribe, and if you want to be on mine, I hope you will do the same. In my opinion, adding people without their permission is unprofessional.

 

  • DO keep your newsletters short and sweet. One of my author friends has a bi-monthly newsletter that is always so long and text-heavy that I rarely get through the first paragraph. It's just too much! People are BUSY, so keep what you send them brief and to the point.

 

  • DON'T send too many. I attended a conference once where a speaker suggested sending two newsletters a week! I completely disagree. (I also didn't subscribe to her list because I didn't want to be flooded with messages.) I send about one a month so I have truly meaningful news to share.

-Maria

Maria Murnane is the best-selling author of the romantic comedies Perfect on Paper, It's a Waverly Life, Honey on Your Mind, and Chocolate for Two. She also provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Learn more at www.mariamurnane.com.

 

This blog post originally appeared on CreateSpace.com. Reprinted with permission. © 2013 CreateSpace, a DBA of On-Demand Publishing, LLC. All rights reserved.

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Comment by Ashley LaMar on December 6, 2013 at 6:39am

I have two separate options for my newsletter.  

I used Yahoo Pipes (it's a RSS feed aggregator) to combine multiple RSS feeds into one RSS feed which I then feed through a MailChimp newsletter and it is sent up to 3x a week.  It automatically includes everything that has happened on my site since the last e-mail.  If there were no updates it will not send an e-mail. 

I also prepare a weekly newsletter which is sent on Sunday morning.  It has headlines of all the articles and news from the last week as well as other articles and little promotions. 

When people subscribe to my list they are given the option to choose one or the other (or both). 

Comment by Susan Troccolo on December 5, 2013 at 5:54pm

Sounds right. Thanks Maria. I did ask some, but not all, as there were quite a few. But that level of etiquette seems very important in these days, so thank you again.

Comment by Maria Murnane on December 5, 2013 at 4:30pm

@Susan, they probably won't mind, but in the future I'd email them first to ask if it's okay to add them. :)

Comment by Susan Troccolo on December 5, 2013 at 2:03pm

Hi, thanks for a great article. I met all your criteria with one exception....I added a few folks to my mailing list who had visited my site many times, left comments and generally seemed engaged. I did NOT subscribe them to the blog, just to the once-a-year newsletter which is short. What is your take on that?

Thanks for your input,  Susan

Comment by Susan G. Weidener on December 5, 2013 at 12:11pm

Maria,  Thanks for this timely post.  It really resonated. I began using Constant Contact three months ago for our Women's Writing Circle.  I love the ease of it as well as the ability to insert gorgeous photos consistent with our Circle's style and message of women finding their voice through writing. 

I agree that text heavy newsletters turn off busy readers and that newsletters should be sent sparingly as a courtesy. Constant Contact also allows you to see who has clicked on which links you've posted in your newsletter so that a picture immediately emerges of who is interested in what topic, event, etc.

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