Of all the marketing options I’ve tried – and believe me, I’ve tried them all! – sending out a newsletter has been the one that has consistently worked. And when I mean worked, I mean I get a bump in sales every time I send one out, I have beta readers who I can rely on, reviewers who will be there for me when I release a new book, and, in the past, even people who I’ve never met in my life coming up and giving me a hug saying how fantastic it is to finally meet in person since we’re such good friends (this has happened to me twice and I had absolutely no idea who these people were, but it turns out they felt like we were great friends because they received my emails every month).

I am completely good with all this! I love having readers who I can rely on. I love having people think we’re great friends even though I have no idea who they are. They buy my books. They read my stories. They recommend them to their friends and claim that we’re friends. I am absolutely fine with this!

So, how does this magic happen? Easy. Every month I open up my internet browser, head over to Mailerlite, and create a new newsletter. My newsletter is sent out on the 15th of every month – consistency is key to both readers knowing that it will be coming and for you to know that you have to put it together.

I have a template saved that has my header on the top and my preferences as to size and color of font (black, 14pt., Verdana). For some reason, the default in Mailerlite is a gray font (hard to read!) and a different san serif font (I like Verdana because it’s big and easy to read). I also prefer a sans serif because I find them much easier to read on a screen than a serif font and I know a number of my readers read my newsletter on their phone. Because of that, I want it to be as easy to read as possible.

A header is really important. At a moment’s glance, the readers know exactly who this email is coming from and what to expect in it. The header I have was designed for me to evoke my sort of writing—magical romance. And, yes, that is it at the top of this post.

From there I always start off with a chatty box giving my readers my news—mostly how my writing is coming along. If I need beta readers or reviews, I mention the fact in my news section, but also include a special section with a button so that people can sign up easily to help out. I also try to include what I’m currently reading with an affiliate link to Amazon for that book.

I’ve recently started including other people’s books from Story Origin. I think I’ve mentioned the website before here. It is a way for authors to connect and promote each other’s work. The first once or twice I agreed to list someone else’s book, I wasn’t particular about what sort of book it was and they got almost no clicks. This past month, I made sure the book was in my genre and it got a lot more clicks.

It’s really nice if you can try to include some sort of question for your readers. They love answering questions as it makes them feel like their opinions are important. You can also ask where they buy books or what their favorite genre is—anything a little bit personal but still reading or book related. It’s a great thing to have this information about your readers so you know who they are and what they’re interested in. I also always make sure my readers have an easy way of contacting me in my newsletter because, yes, sometimes people write back!

Some authors like to include fun pieces of information that relate to their books—historical facts, or fun things about police work (if you write police procedurals), or real-life mysteries that inspired your writing (if you write mystery).

Other authors like to include a giveaway in every newsletter. The key to doing that is to make it something which doesn’t actually cost you anything – like an ebook copy of one of your books, or the opportunity to name a character in your next book. Something fun that will get your readers involved.

I always include a short story, or a part of one—depending on how long the story is. My stories are usually a short romance about a secondary character in one of my books, or, more recently, I’ve been writing backstory shorts for each of my heroes or heroines. This is a great way for my readers to get to know my characters a little better and is a fun bit of marketing for my books.

The key to a good newsletter is to know your readers. Know what they’re interested in. Know what would get them to open your newsletter and read it each and every month. That being said, don’t expect a high open percentage. Unfortunately, if you can get 25-30% of the people you send your newsletter to open it, that’s a good rate.

Finally, where do you find people to add to your list? There are a couple of different places. You should, of course, provide an easy link on your website and Facebook author page. You should include it in the back of every book you write either in your About the Author page or on a separate page – or both! And there are services where you can participate in giveaways where readers must opt-in to your newsletter to receive the giveaway (Ryan Zee’s BookSweeps and LitRing both run a number of these).

If you want more information on newsletters and how to create one, Newsletter Ninja is the book you need to read.

Next week I’m going to do my best to write a blog post for you, but I’m going to be in the midst of moving back to the U.S. so if I’m inundated or too busy pulling out my hair, I apologize in advance! Thanks for your patience!

Oh, and please help support World Central Kitchen and Feeding America by purchasing a copy of Love Gone Viral (five romantic tales of love during the Coronavirus).