Wednesday, February 19, 2014

How to Create an Author Newsletter Using MailChimp

Greetings all, John J. Horn here.

After creating my website last year, I knew I wanted to be able to connect with readers through a newsletter.

I wanted a newsletter software that had three features:
  1. Easy to use
  2. Looks professional
  3. Free
I had friends who had used Mailchimp, so I cased that service first, and it was so good that I never needed to look for another software.

Create a MailChimp Account

MailChimp has three levels of service, but unless you’re a blockbuster author you’ll probably be fine with the lowest level, “Entrepreneur.”

Entrepreneur lets you have up to 2,000 subscribers, and you can send up to 12,000 emails per month. Best of all? It’s completely free.

Sign up for an account here. (And no, that’s not an affiliate link. I just really like MailChimp.)

Create Your Sign-up Form

It’s easy to import email addresses into your account (e.g. friends and family who you want to keep in the loop), but the best, most efficient way to get the general public signed up on your list is to create a sign-up form in your account.

Here is the sign-up form I created.

You can imbed the form’s code into your website, and presto, readers who fill out their info will automatically be added to the email list in your MailChimp account.

Create Emails

MailChimp has lots of great tips for creating emails, and I recommend that you check them out.

You can view my first email newsletter here. I wanted a clean template with easy-to-read text and clear calls-to-action, and MailChimp’s toolset gave me almost exactly what I wanted.

Using MailChimp tools you can drag and drop all sorts of elements, try lots of different template options, edit images, create buttons, and much more. You can also send test emails to make sure that the finished product will look exactly the way you want it to.

Analyze Your Data

Do you like math? I don't, but I love looking at the statistics in my MailChimp account. Watch your subscriber list grow, see how many people open your emails, and see where they click. Lots of fun for a marketer like me! 

Why Have an Author Newsletter?

Maybe I put the cart before the horse. I explained how to set up an easy, free author newsletter using MailChimp, but I didn’t explain why you would want to do so. Here are three reasons:

  1. Readers like author newsletters. It gives them a way to connect with an author in a context that most of the world doesn’t have.
  2. Author newsletters connect you with readers. It takes an average reader maybe five or six hours to read a book. It might take you a year to write a book. While you’re slaving away on your next masterpiece, your readers have moved on to other books. Keep your brand fresh in their minds by periodically emailing something interesting/valuable — maybe an update on your Work in Progress, or an article you posted to your blog.
  3. Author newsletters sell books. Chances are, if you’re writing books, you’d like to sell them. Your newsletter subscriber list is your most targeted market in the world. Let your subscribers know about your books, and ask them to let others know as well!
Do you have an author newsletter? Tell me about it in the comments section!

John J. Horn is a Christian writer from San Antonio, Texas. You can learn more about him and his Men of Grit Christian Fiction series at johnjhornbooks.com (where you can also sign up for his email list).

7 comments:

  1. Yes, I use Mail Chimp and do monthly newsletters. I try to engage my readers with articles from other writers, historical tidbits relating to my WIPs, and often include giveaways/contests. I agree - I don't like math, but I sure do enjoy watching the overview dashboard!

    How's this for enterprising? :) You and anyone else can sign up on the sidebar here:
    http://aliciaannewillis.blogspot.com/

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for the link, Alicia. I signed up! :)

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  2. I love MailChimp! One of my publicity clients last summer wanted me to help her create an author newsletter via MailChimp, and I found it really easy to use and rather fun to play around with. :) I decided to create my own author newsletter this year - keeping it quarterly to go with my "seasons" theme (4 times a year) and to avoid flooding readers inboxes. ;)

    I have the sign-up link at the top of my series blog, and here's the last one I sent out (which was also my first one!): Winter Edition

    Yours looks great - very clean and professional!

    ~Amber

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    1. Thanks, Amber. I've signed up for yours!

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  3. @John - How kind! :) I am signed up to yours too.

    @Amber - signing up for yours as well, Amber.

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  4. Wow, this was a very informative post! Thanks so much for writing it...I'm definitely looking into MailChimp for my own newsletter now. And it's free! What could be better? Once again, thanks.

    -Tialla

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  5. Thank you very much! This is really going to help me.

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