Newsletters: The No Gimmick Way to Reach More Readers

In this three-part blog series, Travis Simmons shares with us his experience with newsletters. Why you should use them. How to set one up. And how to keep your readers engaged.

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Maybe you’re just starting out. You have a great idea for a book; you see so many people making a second income (or a main income) with indie-publishing, and you want to try it!

Maybe you’re a seasoned writer that just can’t seem to make your income level rise enough to justify writing as a career. You’ve tried it all. You’ve bought into gimmicks, and you’ve done countless online classes designed to help you sell thousands of novels on release week. But none of it works.

What are you doing wrong?

What can you do to make it work better for you?

The answer is to grow a fan base that loves your writing and will buy from you time and time again.

That’s where a newsletter comes in.

When Should I Start Building a List?

The answer to that is last week. Building a list is something I firmly plan on doing my entire writing career. Sure, when you’re starting out your list might not be big. It will probably be filled with friends and family, and that’s okay. In this series, we are going to talk about ways to leverage your newsletter to get actual, hungry readers opening your mail and seeing your offers.

But this article is going to talk about planning for that newsletter. We are going to look over three different mail services that people use, and talk about which one would be more beneficial for you.

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“Buy my book and get a free cookie!” Newsletters are better than desperate attempts.

MailChimp

I used MailChimp for a while mainly because it was everywhere! I saw other people using it, saw ads for it, and knew that I needed a newsletter. I will admit when I started up my newsletter I didn’t know all the ways I could use a newsletter, but I knew successful authors had them, and that I should too.

The good thing about MailChimp is that it is very easy to use, and many places will allow you to integrate your subscriber form right into their systems. So when people sign up for your list, they go right into your dashboard with no work from you.

There are a few other reasons that I loved MailChimp:

  • User friendly
  • Integrated subscriber forms (people could click a button on Facebook and automatically be on your list.
  • Easy drag-and-drop newsletter creation
  • Very little work on my part

But the issue for me was the payment. I wasn’t making enough money to support a large list of readers, and I knew I wanted a large list of rabid fans. I wasn’t thinking long-run; I was thinking immediate need.

Honestly, the only con that I saw with MailChimp was the cost of their service. It was broken into tiers based on subscriber numbers, and their billing increased by $10 for every 500 subscribers you had. Granted, the first 500 subscribers were free, but I couldn’t access some of their nice promotional tools until I upgraded to a paid account.

MailerLite

This is the service I use now. I know a lot of authors have made the transition to MailerLite, and they’re happy enough with the service that they recommend it to others.

MailerLite has a lot of the same features as MailChimp. They have an easy drag-and-drop creation tool. They allow you to add images, buttons, and links easily, and they have staff on hand to answer any questions you have.

Things I love about MailerLite:

  • Similar enough to MailChimp that I didn’t have to learn a new system
  • Inexpensive service
  • Friendly and knowledgeable staff
  • Did I mention inexpensive?

Seriously, I can’t stress the difference in price enough. At the moment, their subscriber tiers are split into 5000. This means that your bill only increases when you reach a new 5,000 bracket. They do have a free limit of 1,000 subscribers.

If you’re thinking price isn’t as big an issue, think again. I grew my mailing list by 3,000 subscribers in one month. That means I would have been paying $60 for MailChimp, while I only pay $10 with MailerLite. I’m about to break the 5,000 bracket, so my billing will go up to $20, but it won’t increase again until I reach 10,000.

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Think of all the money you’ll save!

In fact, MailerLite is the service I will use while walking you through setting up your newsletter. You don’t have to use them. All services should have the same tools, but I highly recommend them.

The downside is that they’re not integrated with many platforms I use to grow my list, but I that’s fine for me. The services I use allow me to download a spreadsheet of subscribers that I can easily import into my mailing list.

I’m going to try to make this a three-part series. The first part, here, is understanding that you need a mailing list. Facebook may come and go, the same with Twitter. And, honestly, they’re not designed specifically for selling. Your books may not stay on Amazon forever (I know, that’s hard to believe). When places come and go as easily as MySpace, you will need a way to reach your readers, and a newsletter is the perfect way to reach them.

How to Start Getting Those Signatures

In the following article, we will talk about setting up your newsletter to get subscribers, places you can use to grow your numbers, and how to best use your newsletter to engage, entertain, and sell to your readers.

For now, we will address one important aspect of getting signatures. This idea isn’t new. Tons of people are using it, and that’s a lead generator. This is an item (a book, because that’s your trade) that is completely free for readers to snatch up for the low price of their email address.

So, while you’re setting up your account and getting things in order, consider what you could offer on websites and in published works that will get people signing up. It could be an existing book. It could be a collection of short stories. Or it could be a novella that you wrote based in whatever world your next series is going to be in.

When you’re crafting this lead-gen, be sure to make it as professional and amazing as you do your other works. Don’t publish it (people would likely just go buy it instead of signing up to get it). Make sure it has a great cover, that it’s professionally edited, and formatted.

Until next time! Now, go make your decisions on service provider.

About the Author

Travis Simmons has been writing and self-publishing works of fiction for nearly a decade. He loves to read just about anything he can get his hands on (fantasy is his favorite). When he’s not working on his next novel, he formats books for indie-authors at Wyrding Ways Press. To learn more about Travis, visit him at TravisSimmons.net.

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