So you’ve been emailing your readers for a while now, and you feel like that newsletter is just a bit… bland. Every month, you pop open the laptop and just stare at the screen. You get up to fold some laundry and 3 hours later you find yourself scrubbing out the fridge. Anything to avoid writing that stupid, boring newsletter.
You know you need to send it out to stay in-touch with your readers. But sigh. Finding something to say is like pulling teeth.
Stop it. STAAP. You can do this! Unlike a book, newsletters don’t require 27 drafts and a half million cups of coffee. Don’t think about it as your ‘monthly newsletter.’ This is just a conversation with a fellow book lover.
So let’s break it down.
1/ Start with a brainstorm session.
Before you jump in, get your brain organized. Get clear on your purpose and plan.
If you’ve already created an editorial calendar, pop it open. Find your theme for the month and choose the subtopic that you want to focus on for this newsletter.
Want to learn how an editorial calendar saves you time and provides you with boatloads of inspiration? Read Save your Energy with an Editorial Calendar.
Dig out a notebook and pen. Before we even begin to write to your readers, we’re going to list as many topics and anecdotes as you can. No editing. Use this list to answer these questions:
- What is my reader interested in right now?
- What topics are swirling around the book world this month?
- What is interesting about my writing life right now?
So, turn on some lively music and set a timer for 3 minutes. I’m currently loving Best Fake Smile by James Bay.
After the timer dings, beeps, or screams like a banshee, review your notes. Circle 3 topics that are most interesting or relevant to your writing life right now.
2/ Hook ‘em.
Just like when you’re writing the first page of your book, you need to grab your reader’s attention right away. Use a interesting, unexpected, or exciting statement as a teaser, or ask a question that sparks their curiosity.
- “Greetings from inside the revisions cave. Glasses? Check. Braids? Check. Chapped lips and a bleary but undaunted expression? Check and check.” – Leigh Bardugo newsletter
- “Have you ever tried to read a book while driving a car?” – UntitledTown newsletter
3/ Make it about THEM.
Are you writing about you? Or are you writing to them? 99.99999% of people in this world care more about themselves than about you. So why on earth would they read your newsletter? Because they can relate. In you and your stories, they see themselves and who they want to be.
As you write, consider how each topic can be interesting and valuable to your reader. Share bits and pieces about your life, your writing process, and exciting news… but frame it for them.
Pro tip – Here’s a quick way to make sure your writing is more focused on them than you: count the number of times you use the word ‘you/your’ versus ‘I’ or ‘we.’ Want to see how it’s done? How many times did I use ‘you’ in just this section?
4/ Keep it simple.
Think about how you read your emails. Do you savor each one like a romance novel? Hell no. No one has time for that. We skim.
That doesn’t mean no one is going to read your email. But first, acknowledge that your reader will start by skimming and need to be drawn in with compelling content and formatting.
Stick to just a few ideas and organize them with clear headings that pull your reader in. Take a look at how this post is formatted. I vary sentence length and paragraph size. Headlines pull the focus so you can easily get the gist before digging in. Bold and underlines call out the most important ideas.
5/ Mix it up.
Consistency is great – in the right context. When your reader sees you pop up in their inbox, do they expect interesting content and your authentic voice? Or do they just expect the same exact topics each time?
Share new ideas or change up the formatting a little from time to time. Keep it fresh for them (and fresh for you).
6/ Drive them toward a CTA
A call-to-action (CTA) is powerful and incredibly important, and you always want to include one in your emails. What is this madness? A CTA the action you want your reader to take when they’ve read your email. For example: “Click here to read my latest blog post.”
One of the most common mistakes authors make in their emails is to ask a reader to do too many things.
- Check out my latest blog post here.
- And photos from my vacation.
- And preorder my next book.
- And try my book-inspired playlist.
What’s the most important action in that list? Your pre-order!
And yet, was that your focus?
Every action you offer to your reader is a chance for them to click off your email. Once they’ve left your newsletter, they might find themselves down the internet rabbit hole and never return to your glorious email.
Which is fine… if you don’t want them to do anything else in that email.
But if you have something important you want your reader to do—like pre-order your book—don’t let them check out early. You want to write your content to guide them right to that CTA.
This doesn’t mean you can’t include other actions in your email, but you want to keep them to a minimum. And when sales time comes around, make that CTA your focus.
7/ Don’t forget the P.S.
Guess who reads the postscript? Pretty much everyone! When they take a initial scan of your email, they’ll see your greeting, the headlines, and the P.S. So use it! And don’t be afraid to use it regularly.
What can you put in your postscript? Try one of these:
- Restate your CTA
- Remind them of an upcoming event, class, or other action with a looming deadline
- Tell them how much you appreciate them
- Add a bonus offer
Writing a badass newsletter is all about connecting with your reader. Remember that they have given you the gift of their attention. Respect it by writing to them as a friend. You are building a relationship, which takes time. Don’t spend too much time fretting about it. Just try to improve a little with each email.