Five Tips for Creating an Effective Newsletter

Five Tips for Creating an Effective Newsletter

By Dorothy Love

Staying in touch with our readers has never been more important than it is now, in these days of shrinking markets and expanding options for the way stories and other types of entertainment are delivered.  I’ve been doing some research on what makes a newsletter worth the time, effort and money it takes to develop, circulate, and maintain it. I studied the newsletters that arrive in my in-box almost daily and thought about what I like and don’t like. And I consulted a couple of marketing experts to see what they have to say. My own director of marketing at Thomas Nelson feels a newsletter begins to be effective when you have at least 500 names in your database. Once you’ve reached that number, here are five tips the experts say are critical to success:

An attractive layout is paramount. Use plenty of headers subheads, boxes, and graphics such as drawings, photos or illustrations. Some of my friends use a company called Constant Contact that offers a wide range of banners, colors and  layouts.

Don’t annoy your recipients by including too much information about yourself. Of course you want to mention your newest book coming out, any places you’ll be signing, but the value in a newsletter lies in what you can offer your readers.  How about recommendations of  books by other authors that you think your own readers will enjoy? An interesting statistic about books or book buying?  A favorite recipe or one that figures into your novel? A photograph of the setting of your novel? Make it short, make it interesting, and give your readers one little tidbit that’s fun and unexpected.

Don’t give away too much of the plot of your novel. Some experts recommend keeping the summary to 200 words or less. I realized how important this idea is when I remember how having to write a detailed synopsis of a novel beforehand drains me of the sense of urgency needed to actually write the story. Once I’ve set it all out there in the synopsis, I don’t feel the need to write the book.  Readers are the same way. Tell them too much about your novel and they will feel that they’ve already read it.

Provide tips and news about the book business as a whole. Readers enjoy a behind the scenes look at our industry. News of book award winners and upcoming books by well known authors are always interesting. How many of us devoured this week’s news that horror author Stephen King is writing an historical novel about the assassination of President Kennedy?  I’m not even a King fan, but this news held my interest.

Send your newsletter to a media list to generate publicity.

Do you have a favorite tip for creating a newsletter? As a reader, what do you love/not love about the newsletters you receive?


Dorothy LoveBefore moving to the inspirational market with her Hickory Ridge series of historical romances for adult readers, Dorothy Love published more than a dozen novels for preteens and young adults at major New York houses including Random House and Simon and Schuster. In addition to the three in the Hickory Ridge series, she has had three other novels published, including her most recent, A RESPECTABLE ACTRESS,  named a 4.5 star Top Pick by Romantic Times. Her next novel, due out in late May, MRS. LEE AND MRS. GRAY, is a biographical novel about the 50 year friendship between Mrs Robert E Lee and her slave Selina Gray. Dorothy shares a home in the Texas hill country with her husband and golden retriever. She loves chatting with readers through her website: or her author page on Facebook:

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How About Some Haiku?

Did you know that February, the shortest month of the year, is National Haiku Writing Month  (NaHaiWriMo) – a month celebrating the shortest poetry form? (I didn’t until two days ago :D ) The challenge is to write one haiku a day the entire month of February. Which means, since this post is going live on February 2, you are only a day behind! ;)

I am sure most of you learned haiku in school – but, contrary to popular belief, three lines of five, seven, then five syllables does not a haiku make. While following the syllable rule is perfectly fine, the most important part of what makes a haiku a haiku is the poem itself. According to the NaHaiWriMo website, a haiku is a short poem that creates the feeling of a moment of personal experience. They also often have a two-part structure, a seasonal reference, and immediate sensory imagery, avoiding most judgment and analysis. Intrigued? Check out the NaHaiWriMo site to learn more about haiku, the challenge, and how to participate.

So, who’s in?

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A Useful Branch

A little fiction from my own archives :)

A Useful Branch

By Joanne Sher

The white granules of sand burnt the bottoms of his feet. Increasing his pace to a trot, Kevin Small reached the water and knelt into the surf, a small tree branch gripped in his left hand. Slamming the makeshift spear into the water, he stared down at the end of the stick and smirked. A solid hit. He would have a real meal tonight.

Kevin soaked his feet in the ocean water a bit longer, looking out over the horizon. He tried to keep his focus on anything but what his brain was obsessing on. No such luck. He could have a brief break, but after a minute or two the same images would whirl about in his mind until he felt like tearing his hair out.

The worst part was that Kevin knew exactly what he needed to do to calm his mind. Unfortunately, he couldn’t do it.

A few days ago, he’d been on his boat deep-sea fishing, enjoying a well-deserved respite from the hard work of ministry. A few moments of distraction and the boat capsized and broke apart, dumping all its contents, including Kevin, into the sea. He’d floated on a piece of the hull for hours, until he saw this small island. It had taken all his strength to reach the beach.

Kevin remembered an assignment he’d had in a junior high social studies class. He’d been given a list of a few dozen items and was told to pick five to be his only possessions on a desert island. If only he’d had that luxury a couple days ago; though, even then, he wasn’t sure he’d have picked a pen and a notebook.

“I’m a writer, and I can’t write. I’ve gotta get this story out of my head, or I’m gonna go crazy!”

Continue Reading…

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Chase Your Dreams

Chase Your Dreams

By Megan DiMaria

Do you have an unfulfilled dream? Go for it!

No one will drop your life’s dream into your lap. You’ve got to work for it.

Since I was a little girl, I wanted be a published author.

I was too afraid to tell anyone my dream, so when the time came to go to college, I took the safe path and studied communications instead of creative writing.

It served me well, I worked in broadcasting, journalism, and marketing most of my adult life. If I hadn’t made that decision, my life would not have taken me to where I met my honey, so I don’t regret my choices. I’m blessed.

Yet, I still longed to see my name on the spine of a book. My dream would not fade. So one day about a decade ago I decided to take a run at my dream.

By then, I’d been writing a novel (or two!), but I never submitted it to a publisher. Actually, I didn’t know how. So I joined a writers group. Then I went to a writers conference. Then I joined a critique group and began to enter contests. I continued to write, continued to learn, and started submitting my work.

One magical day I got that email dreams are made of–the one from an editor requesting to see my full manuscript. The rest is history. I had two books published. My dream was realized.

I’ve thought of how lucky I am, but honestly, much of it was disguised as hard work. I didn’t sit around daydreaming. I did all I could to make my dream come true.

Continue Reading…

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Share Your Writing

FaithWriters is probably best known for the Writing Challenge and the Page Turner contest. But did you know that there are lots of other places on the site to share your writing?

Are you feeling like your story, song, or play (or anything else) needs some feedback to make it its best, but you are not sure where to get it? Why don’t you try out the Critique Circle? Upgraded (Gold and Platinum) members are able to submit writing in any genre, and members (as well as a few paid editors) will give you some feedback (and it will go exclusively to you – nobody else will see it). All you need to do is provide feedback on someone else’s entry – and once you post yours, others will return the favor.

Maybe you are happy with your piece, and simply want to share it with folks who might be searching. If that’s the case, you can post it in regular articles. There are several dozen categories your article may fit into – and you can pick where to put it. You can offer an article for view, for sale, or to share for free. It’s a nice way to get your stuff out there – and a great place to look if you want a little something to read yourself!

Maybe what you are really wanting is to share your devotional, article, story, or other piece of writing with people for their own use. If so, be sure to stop by free reprints and post your article there. I know of church secretaries, bloggers (including yours truly) and others who look in this area for filler material for their publications in free reprints. You never know who might contact you and let you know they plan to use one of your pieces to bless others!

Where will YOU submit?

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A Writer’s Alphabet: Things Every Writer Needs to Know

A Writer’s Alphabet: Things Every Writer Needs to Know

by Edie Melson

Lately I’ve had a lot of folks ask me what it takes to become a writer.
The real answer takes hours, but today I decided to just boil it down to the basics.
I’ve done several of these ABC posts here on The Write Conversation and today I’m adding one more. I just can’t seem to help it, they’re so much fun to do.
The Writer’s Alphabet
A is for Adventure. The Writer’s life is definitely full of surprising twists and turns—we never know when we’ll be ambushed by an idea or spend half a day looking for just the right word.
B is for Balance. It’s easy to get overwhelmed with the writing life. We all need to practice a healthy balance.
C is for Cathartic. The experiences I’ve had in life always seem to creep into my writing, even if they’re unrecognizable to anyone else. Processing what I’ve been through with words has been a good thing.
D is for Discipline. To be a writer, you must…well…write. It’s not often easy, but it is fulfilling.
E is for Encourage. Yes, we need to encourage others with our words. But even more importantly, we need to use our words to encourage ourselves. Don’t be your own worst enemy by constantly talking down to yourself.
F is for Failure. Failure is an option, and anyone who’s told you differently is lying. I often learn more through failure than through success. It’s painful, but knowing something good comes out of my mistakes often makes them less painful.
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Let God be God

Let God be God

By Toni Babcock

“By faith Abraham, when he was called…obeyed, and he went out, not knowing whither he went,” (Hebrews 11:8 KJV).

Envy, and its suspecting cousin suspicion, can present themselves in a reluctance to acknowledge the gifts and calling of another Christian. Take the astounding story of Bruce Olson, who embarked on a harrowing journey to reach a fierce tribal group called the Motilone. His adventure began when at nineteen years of age, he boarded a plane to Venezuela with seventy dollars in his pocket and no official backing.

Before his trip, Bruce applied for missionary backing, but he was not considered qualified. Still, he felt it impossible to resist the call of God to “GO” in spite of his rejection. His initial reception from certain missionaries on the field was negative. He was shunned and frowned upon by those critical he was moving ahead without official backing. Yet his faith held firm as he continued to do what he was convinced God had called him to do. The rest is history.

If we truly have faith in our sovereign God and King, we can trust Him when he calls and equips the most unsuspecting people. We can refrain from jumping to judgmental conclusions, and graciously surrender our strict methodologies for ministry. In other words, we can let God be God.

(Bruce’s incredible story of faith and survival appears in: Bruchko And The Motilone Miracle: How Bruce Olson Brought a Stone Age South American Tribe into the 21st Century, by Bruce Olson and James L. Lund).

Dear God, thank you for remaining higher than the highest authority, existing above and beyond our too often biased human parameters, and never ceasing to amaze through your divine working of faith and love.

copyright 2016

Toni M. Babcock is author of The Stone Writer, Christian Fiction for Young Readers and Teens.

Article Source: WRITER


Are You Really a Writer?

Are You Really A Writer?

By Suzanne Lieurance, the Working Writer’s Coach

People always ask me, “How do I tell if I’m really a writer?”

I tell them that’s an easy question to answer.

If you’re really a writer, you write.

But that’s not all real writers do.

Real writers also take joy in the writing process itself instead of simply wanting to have written something.

Someone who is really a writer loves the process of writing, even when the process is torturous, as it can be at times with any writing project.

Yet, real writers MUST write. They can’t NOT write.

They may spend time making excuses for not writing. But when it gets right down to it, they can’t stay away from the work itself for long. The writing keeps calling them back.

And when they go back to it, they eventually find bliss when they realize their writing has improved. That they’ve finally learned how to smooth out a certain difficult passage they’ve been wrestling with for weeks. They finally understand what an editor means by some suggested rewrites.

If you’re trying to decide if you’re really a writer, see how long you can stay away from writing.

Find out if the writing itself – and not just the promise of publication – is what brings you joy.

Then you’ll know for sure if you’re really a writer.

Try it!


Used with permission. From the December 22, 2015 edition of The Morning Nudge, a daily encouraging email produced by Suzanne Lieurance, the Working Writer’s Coach. Receive  a free subscription at The Morning Nudge is also in video format on YouTube –

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Writing Challenge is Back – With Minor Changes

After few weeks’ break (did anyone go through withdrawals??), the FaithWriters Writing Challenge is back in action – with the first topic of 2016,RESOLUTION, announced yesterday.  And with the new topic, and new year, come a few changes, as announced by FW lady and Writing Challenge Coordinator Deb Porter.

The first change is that each challenge quarter will no longer have a theme. Topics will be chosen with care to provide loads of variety, as well as plenty of creative stretching (some weeks more than others). You will never know what topic to expect from one week to the next.

This has been made possible by a change to the publishing aspect of the Writing Challenge. With a lot of books still to be published, the only sane thing to do was to make a change to the future publication options:

1. All the Mixed Blessings books based on the quarterly Challenges to date (finishing December 2015) will be rolled out as promised. Hopefully at least four this year. Editing has begun on Book 3, and it’s going to be a fun book.

2. Commencing with the first Writing Challenge of 2016, only the three highest ranked entries each week will be considered for publication in a planned annual Mixed Blessings book (to be released within 12 months of the final topic of each year). The book will not have a theme, but will be promoted as the very best of the Challenge.

Apart from the publication aspect, don’t forget the incredible blessing open to Platinum members. There were 68 ratings feedback reports prepared in the last quarter, and the response to those reports was overwhelmingly positive. So many of you thought this was the most important aspect of the Challenge. More important, Deb was able to see people grow during that quarter. We had more than a few finish up the year placing in their Level for the first time, and some even making it to the Editors’ Choice. So if you are a Platinum member, make sure you take advantage of at least one of your three feedback credits each quarter.


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2016 Page Turner Open: Double the Fun!

FaithWriters and Breath of Fresh Air Press are pleased to announce the Tenth Annual Page Turner Contest is officially open for entries – and this year we are celebrating in a very big way. For the first time, the door is open for both fiction and nonfiction manuscripts – with a winner and runner-up in BOTH categories!

If you are a member of the FaithWriters Platinum 500, you are invited to enter this very special contest created just for you. If you are not yet a Platinum member, this is the perfect reason to upgrade your membership.

Maybe you’ve got a half-written manuscript gathering dust in the bottom of your wardrobe. Perhaps it’s something you wrote during NaNoWriMo last year. It could even be an idea that’s been brewing in the back of your mind for years. Whatever the stage of your manuscript, this contest is just the spur you need to get writing and polishing-and we will give you until the end of September (note this change) to get your entry ready.

Sound good? Well, here’s what you need to do:

1. Write, edit and polish at least one chapter of your manuscript. You may seek professional editing input to polish your chapter.
2. Prepare a book proposal.
3. Combine the  chapter and book proposal as one Word or RTF document (book overview first, followed by the chapter), and you’re all set to enter the 2016 Page Turner Contest.

See further details here (if you are a platinum member) or here (if you are not yet a platinum member).

Continue Reading…

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