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?

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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: www.DorothyLoveBooks.com or her author page on Facebook: www.facebook.com/dorothylovebooks

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