Author newsletters are fantastic networking tools for selling your books, sharing your writing journey, or showing agents and publishers that you are worth the investment. But not all author newsletters are created equally, and there are several mishaps that can quickly tank your subscriber count if you’re not careful.
When it comes to creating author newsletters, there are many questions to consider: What should we include? How should we format it? How often should it be sent out? What’s the freakin’ point in doing one at all?
There are many schools of thought on all of those, and I’ll be addressing several of them in my
next post—but this is an article about what you should not be doing–EVER.
FREE!!! 😀 😀 😀
One of the easiest ways to land in the spam box is to overload your subject line with lots of
unnecessary punctuation, emojis, all caps, and spam filter trigger words like “free.” In fact,
some advice states to NEVER use the words “Free” or “freebie,” even in the body of your
email, because some of those filters are very strict. Hot tip: use more creative phrasing in the subject line, like
Have I got something for you! If you do want to say the word ‘free’, put the word in an image instead of the body text.
Overdoing Your Fonts
And no, I’m not just talking about putting your paragraphs in Times New Roman but your
headings in something else. Believe it or not, spam filters count every formatting change as
a new font—regular, italics, bolded, underlined/linked, or any varying size of text are all
treated as a different font. Why does this matter? Statistically, spammy sales emails use a
lot of fonts, so not limiting yourself can lead to getting flagged. Rule of thumb? Try to keep it
under 3 formats, total, and use images where you want variation.
Too Many Images
Ouch! I keep telling you how images can be an escape art. But too many of them… you
guessed it– they flag the spam filters. Images should never use more than 40% of your email
space. Hot tip: use the tool Mail Tester to help gauge your adherence to this and other
Keeping Dud Subscribers
This may sound counterintuitive, but keep that unsubscribe option visible. Why? Another
thing the email overlords pay attention to is your open rates. If you have a low ratio of
email opens vs. emails sent, this is going to hurt your visibility in inboxes, leading to even
worse ratios. Some gurus advise sending out your email with a new subject line every week after
the first blast, just to those who didn’t open it. Others suggest sending out a special email to
duds after a few months asking if they wish to unsubscribe; their
response either gets them off your list or gets you “whitelisted” (trusted) by that email
address! Either way, if someone isn’t opening your emails for about 6 months- a year, it’s
not helping you to keep sending them.
Using a Personal Email
When you’re sending out newsletters, use a service. Popular choices include Mailchimp (a
little confusing to use, but their forms integrate everywhere) and MailerLite (easier to use
but not partnered as widely). There are even apps available inside WordPress itself. But
DON’T send out high quantities of emails straight from an email account. First of all, the
templates available through those services look much more professional and most of them
are free up to a certain threshold of subscribers. But more importantly, this is another way
to avoid flagging yourself as spam to the filters.
Whatever your marketing strategy, whatever you choose to include in your newsletters, these
are universal tips that every author and entrepreneur must follow to give those emails a fighting chance!
About the Writer: Kathryn Tamburri (@KathrynTamburriAuthor) writes clean YA epic fantasy novels which seethe with slow-burn romance. You can find more of her writing tips on #ThePantsersGuide and follow her new #AdventureLog on the blog at KathrynTamburri.com, and be the first to know when her novels publish by subscribing to her fun author newsletter