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:
- Easy to use
- Looks professional
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.
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
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).