7.9 WRITING AS A CAREER: NEWSLETTERS
There are lots of different websites you can use to promote your writing, but personally I think one of the most important things an author can do with their online platform is grow a mailing list. Social media accounts can go in and out of fashion so easily that you might lose your entire audience if you don’t have them on a system they’re definitely going to be using long term, like email. It’s a ‘push’ system that sends your post directly to users, unlike something like Twitter which they have to manually check, which makes it easier to miss stuff.
Other sites have crossover in audience followers, but a mailing list gets a lot of subscribers who don’t use online platforms as they’ve joined via newsletter sign-up sheets at events or through following the link at the back of my book. I think they’re the most important subscribers I have, as they’re very likely to buy any new releases if they’re invested enough to sign up.
It’s your personal database of your readers. If you move publishers or start to self-publish, you will always retain your list of readers. There is also something really satisfying about receiving a good newsletter – it’s more intimate, and personal than a public tweet. People craft newsletters, and take more care and time with them so that it feels like you’re getting something valuable.
Your website should include a sign-up page to subscribe to your newsletter. This should include a link to the archive and details about how often the newsletter will go out. Make sure that your provider’s sign up sheet has a check box option giving permission to send emails. This is now required by law under the GDPR regulations.
You can also include an incentive to sign up – a free short story that people can only read if they sign up, when it will be emailed to them on their registration confirmation email.
You should also mention it in your official bio:
‘Sign up on their website to receive newsletters with updates about their books and behind-the-scenes content.’
You could also put a link to your newsletter in your email signature, as anyone who likes your writing enough to email you will want to sign up.
Promote your newsletter occasionally on social media before you send out each one, saying something like:
I’ll be choosing a winner of a book from the people subscribed to my newsletter when it goes out next Tuesday, sign up here!
Ideally everything you post on other social media should be summarised once a month in your newsletter – e.g. the news you put online, twitter threads made into a nice story, pics you’ve put on Instagram, an embedded video you posted on YouTube, reviews of books you put on Goodreads. Think of everything you do online as early sneak peaks of your newsletter, which you’re collating so that your nan (who loves you but doesn’t understand social media!) can get it in one neat package once a month.
If you lost every other social media platform, someone should be able to go through your newsletter and get a full and clear representation of your presence online. On sites as fast moving as Twitter, it’s easy to lose things in the void – and that might have been a really funny joke or really insightful comment! You want to save these in a permanent way.
Set a reminder in your calendar to send an issue out at 3pm on the first Wednesday of every month/2 months/3 months, however often you want to do it.
- Behind the scenes of the writing process – what you’re working on at the moment
- Quotes from reviews people have posted of your books
- Deleted scenes and short stories – these are time consuming but GOLD for fans!
- Books you want to read coming out next year (posted in December)
- Favourite books of the year (posted in January)
- A romantic excerpt from your book (posted in February)
- Easter Eggs hidden in your books (references to other books, pop culture, etc) (posted in March/April)
- Mid-year round up of your favourite books this year so far (posted in June)
- Deleted scenes from your books
- Writing update – how your latest draft is going
- Research you’ve done for your writing
- Cover reveals
- Interviews with people in the industry – editors, publicists, agents, bloggers, etc
- Nice quotes people have posted in reviews of your books (this is something nice to end a blog post with, if it’s a bit short)
- Your favourite recent books
- Pictures of your bookshelves
- Sneak peeks of your next book
Lauren James was born in 1992, and graduated in 2014 from the University of Nottingham, UK, where she studied Chemistry and Physics. She is the Carnegie-nominated British Young Adult author of The Loneliest Girl in the Universe, The Quiet at the End of the World and The Next Together series.
She started writing during secondary school English classes, because she couldn’t stop thinking about a couple who kept falling in love throughout history. She sold the rights to the novel when she was 21, whilst she was still at university.
Her books have sold over fifty thousand copies in the UK alone, and been translated into five languages worldwide. She has been described as ‘Gripping romantic sci-fi’ by the Wall Street Journal and ‘A strange, witty, compulsively unpredictable read which blows most of its new YA-suspense brethren out of the water’ by Entertainment Weekly.
Her other novels include The Last Beginning, named one of the best LGBT-inclusive works for young adults by the Independent, and The Loneliest Girl in the Universe, which was inspired by a Physics calculation she was assigned at university. Lauren is a passionate advocate of STEM further education, and all of her books feature female scientists in prominent roles. The Quiet at the End of the World considers the legacy and evolution of the human race into the far future.
Lauren is published in the UK by Walker Books and in the US by HarperCollins. She lives in the West Midlands and is an Arts Council grant recipient. She has written articles for numerous publications, including the Guardian, Buzzfeed, Den of Geek, The Toast, and the Children’s Writers and Artist’s Yearbook 2020. She lectures at the University of Cambridge and Coventry University, and works with Writing West Midlands, providing creative writing courses to children through the Spark Young Writers programme.