I have never been crazy about e-mail newsletters, which is probably why I've never attempted to do one myself until I sold the Disenchanted & Co. books. Since there is a lot going on behind the scenes with the new series I really needed one, but I didn't want to get myself into a huge time sink that would just end up being deleted unread from someone's inbox.
The first thing I did was search for instructions as to exactly how to get a newsletter subscription option on a Blogger template. This video by Odin Spark not only explained that, it directed me to MailChimp, a free newsletter creation and mailing service -- which basically eliminated the rest of the research I was planning to do.
Once I watched the MailChimp tutorials, I put together my first test newsletter in about half an hour. I used one of their designer templates for the first issue, although I plan to create my own once I become a little more experienced with the site.
I think newsletters should be short, so I kept mine brief. I made a couple of insider-info type announcements about upcoming events, and included a request for feedback on what my subscribers would like to see in the newsletter. As an extra temptation I offered an incentive giveaway for those who take the time to respond. Right now my subscriber list is small but as it grows I'm planning more perks for the recipients that won't be available to anyone else.
The primary challenge of a monthly newsletter is to put together enough news, bonus material and incentives to make it worth someone's time to read. Before I jumped into doing my first issue I put together six month's worth of newsletters in draft form to get an idea of how best to approach the content, and that was extremely helpful in getting a handle on how to sustain it. Since I'm doing a lot of advance marketing right now I have plenty of news about the first book, but that tends to dwindle after the initial release and promotions are over. I also have to remain flexible enough with my content that I can add all those last-minute items that plague every author.
I think offering monthly incentives like contests and freebies is a fun way to keep subscribers reading the newsletter, but you have to think about what your readership really wants to know. My people are huge readers and always on the lookout for great books, so one of my newsletter content goals is to come up with a monthly recommended read by another author I think will appeal to them. I may also extend that to include recommendations from my subscribers.
The one thing I don't want is for the newsletter to become tiresome -- on either side. This challenges me to keep creating content that helps promote the series but that doesn't bore me or the subscriber. I'm going to do a lot of thinking outside the box on this aspect, and hopefully put together a monthly mailing that keeps readers clicking to open it instead of opting for the delete button.
Do you use a particular newsletter service that has proven valuable or helpful in some way? Let us know in comments.