Romantic Novelists' Association

Top tips for a brilliant author newsletter by Anna Caig

19 April 2024

RNA Learning are delighted that one of our most beloved and highest rated tutors, marketing expert Anna Caig, will be delivering a month-long course in May about developing your author newsletter, mailing list and website as we’ve had feedback from authors that publishers are keen for authors to have newsletters. In this blog post, Anna shares some of her top tips for developing a brilliant author newsletter.

For many writers, setting up your website and newsletter is a great first marketing step. A good mailing list or newsletter offer enables you to build long-term relationships with readers who will not only buy your books but also become real advocates for your writing.

But where should you start? How do you stop it becoming too time-consuming? And is this even the best use of your precious time?

These three tips will help you make the most of your newsletter, get you off on the right track, or give you existing offer a boost.

1. Do it first!
When the job of writing your book is done, and you want to start finding and connecting with readers for your work, the whole business of book marketing can feel overwhelming. There are so many options out there, so many enticing possibilities and so many ‘shoulds’.

The great thing about starting with your mailing list or newsletter, is that this then enables you to collect people as you go with all the rest of your marketing activity. The analogy I often use is that your book marketing is like a fishing boat, and your mailing list is the net you pull behind it – anyone who hears about your work, whether that’s through social media, events, the media or any other channel, can sign up and you don’t lose them.

If you launch into other book marketing, you won’t always have a way to stay in touch with readers over the long term. We’ve seen over recent years that social media isn’t a sustainable, reliable way to build a long-term following – algorithms change all the time and sometimes platforms change beyond all recognition – but you own your mailing list and you’re in control of what you send, and when.

2. Don’t feel you have to write too much
Most writers are busy people, and your priority is writing books, not promoting them. Many authors are put off starting a newsletter because they’re worried about the time commitment involved in writing lengthy emails. But the truth is, concise pieces of information are often better.

Bitesize chunks of information, easily consumable in a user-friendly format, are appreciated by readers at a time when inboxes are bulging. It’s important to provide value with your mailing list offer, but don’t make the mistake of conflating value and volume of words.

3. Use consistent content themes
Okay, you’re convinced. A mailing list is the best way to build long-term relationships with readers, boost sales, and maximise the impact of your other marketing activity.

But the question remains, what should you talk about? We know the ‘Here’s my book, buy my book’ approach doesn’t work, so content themes are a great way to structure your newsletter content – these are the topics you will consistently talk about.

Think about the content of your writing – what topics do you explore? Find subjects that provide value to your readers and also interest you. What could you talk about for hours to a friend? What do you have expertise in? What did you research in order to write your book? What are you passionate about? Whether it’s recipes, pet-rearing tips, moments of calm and reflection, your own reading or what you see on your daily walk, good content themes will both engage potential readers and banish the ‘chore factor’ from your newsletter writing.

How can I learn more?

Anna Caig is running a month-long course starting on Tuesday 7 May on ‘Developing newsletters, mailing lists and author websites’. This course is run in association with the Romantic Novelists’ Association but is suitable for writers in any genre.

The course consists of four live lessons which can be attended in real time, or watched on the recording, and each of the lessons will be available to watch as many times as you like for the rest of the month. There is also a discussion forum with plenty of opportunities to ask questions and have discussion with Anna and your fellow course mates.

For more information or to book, go to the Eventbrite page.

About Anna Caig
Anna Caig has worked in communications for 19 years, specialising in media relations and strategic marketing campaigns, and is an experienced and engaging public speaker.

Anna also writes historical crime fiction and her debut novel was shortlisted for the CWA Debut Dagger prize. She reviews books for The Sheffield Telegraph and on her blog.

The former Head of Communications at Sheffield City Council and tutor on The University of Sheffield MA Journalism course, Anna began her training business to support writers to build their brand and reach more readers. She now works with traditionally, indie and self-published writers, as well as helping creatives in any discipline find a wider audience.

Twitter: @AnnaCaig