Newsletter Tips for Writers

Newsletter Tips for Writers

Don’t Let Your Newsletter Stink!

Everyone knows how crucial a successful mailing list is. Unfortunately, many writers are at a loss for what to say. They can write an entire book only to be stymied by email content! Others give it their best shot, but their subscribers won’t open the email. Even worse, they click the dreaded unsubscribe button and sever the relationship entirely.

Writing a good newsletter and keeping subscribers doesn’t need to be a daunting task. Try these do’s and don’ts to get started on the right foot and make your efforts count.

DO: Provide value to your reader in every newsletter.

If you don’t know what they’d find valuable, go to www.answerthepublic.com and search a relevant word that you know a lot about. It’ll show you the questions people are asking about that word. For example, I write about funeral topics. If I search for the word “funeral,” it might tell me that people want to know how much funerals cost, why we do funerals, the history of funerals, fun funeral options, etc. I choose a question and write a post that answers it. It’s useful and relevant to my audience. Value!

BONUS: the more value you give on a regular basis, the less sketchy it feels to ask for something later. Expert Tammi Labrecque recommends a ratio of three “gives” for one “ask.” You do not need to sell products in every email. Instead, sell yourself (not, like, literally. Cultivate a fandom)!

DON’T: Send an email for the sake of sending email.

If you have nothing valuable to say, you’re wasting your reader’s time. It’s annoying, and likely to provoke an “unsubscribe” if you do it too often. I only send mine once a month (if I had time, I’d consider sending two per month). I save up my content so my emails are meaty and worth sitting down to enjoy. Note: that infrequent schedule goes out the window around your publication date.

DO: Keep a running list of topics to mention in your next newsletter.

It might be a funny thing that happened last week, progress you made, a cool website or book. It might be so small that you’d forget by the end of the month, but those little tidbits add up and you can use them. When you sit down to write your newsletter, you’ll have some ready built “flavor” to supplement your main topic. It’s a nice, organic way to let your personality shine through without feeling forced.

DON’T: Forget that your audience is ever changing.

Remember the people who joined recently? They’re new to the party and aren’t up to speed. Don’t assume they know what you’re talking about, so provide a little reminder/reference. I’ve signed up for newsletters and unsubscribed because I was lost about who the author was and what they were talking about. Maybe include a roundup or summary of important things. Use a consistent tagline or image that reminds people who you are or what you write. Don’t rely on someone’s knowledge of previous newsletter content. If they’re confused, they’re uncomfortable… and they’re leaving.

DO: Proofread!

My confidence in an author diminishes if I see constant typos in their communications. Make it easy to read too. Break up the text into chunks. Use headers and sub headers so I can skim past things if they’re not relevant to me. Be mindful of your color scheme. Most people are reading your email on their smartphone, so it needs to be easy to see. Add elements that make it look professional (like your header, footer, and logo). Add little personal touches so I can get to know the real you. I don’t want to read something that was written by a robot.

DON’T: Start creating newsletters without subscribing to other authors’ mailing lists first.

Make notes on what works, and perhaps more crucially, what doesn’t work. I’ve spent a lot of time researching newsletters and have seen examples, both good and bad. I’ve modeled my own after someone else’s that I admire. Happily, that author later subscribed to mine and recently sent me a message with enthusiastic praise. Nailed it!

If you’d like to get an idea of content and design, you can see my archive here without having to sign up for my mailing list. Clearly my content is tailored to my niche, but you can get ideas and apply them to your own genre. See my past newsletters here: www.LouisePachella.com/archive.

DO: Evolve.

If you make mistakes, learn and grow. Do better in the next one. If you set up your welcome sequence or other automations a long time ago, periodically update them to reflect your new knowledge and design skills. Your recent emails may look fantastic, but a new subscriber’s first impression will be based on your shabbily done first attempt at a welcome email. Fix it.

Want more tips? I highly recommend the book Newsletter Ninja by Tammi Labrecque. Read it and get writing!

Louise Pachella is a funeral director, embalmer, and fledgling writer. She’s currently writing her first nonfiction books (Embalming For Amateurs: The Casual Reader’s Guide to Dead Bodies and Funeral Fun! Adult Activity & Coloring Book), but spends a great deal of time researching and procrasti-learning instead. Learn more at www.HisAndHearsePress.com.

 

PublishHER Podcast Episode 66

PublishHER Podcast Episode 66

Sage Advice and A Tribute to Shelly Longenecker

In this latest episode of the PublishHer Podcast, I paid homage to a dear friend of mine who recently passed a few weeks ago, Shelly Longenecker. This special interview was recorded a few years back for the Women in Publishing Summit, where she shared excellent tips on book marketing, audience growth, and how to grow your business with a book. She will be greatly missed, and you can learn a ton of knowledge from her amazing story in this episode.

Shelly was a valued member of the Women in Publishing Summit, having been a guest three times at the conference. It would have been her 48th birthday this year, and I know she had so much more that she wanted to give into this world. She was the author of “Dinner for a Dollar,” a book full of great tips on preparing clean, wholesome meals for your family on a budget. Shelly used this book to grow her email list and make collaborations and partnerships to scale her business.

Shelly was more than a client, and it was wonderful how I witnessed her amazing story and how she walked through life with cancer. She launched her book and business on the same day, October 1st, 2018, without considering having an audience. Quickly realizing her mistake, Shelly booked a call with me, and that was the beginning of many appointments and marketing calls. By mid-January of the next year, she launched her book on Amazon. By March, she was getting ready to release her audiobook. And by April, she got diagnosed with ovarian cancer. And as you can imagine, getting a cancer diagnosis was devastating and put her in a dark place. Looking back on her life, she realized that she had been putting it on hold for 17 years. She was at a point where she was ready to live fully and get back to pursuing her career and doing the things she loved. Shelly was finally having the time of her life publishing her book and building a business, but all that came to a sudden stop.

“Why don’t you keep having the time of your life?”

Shelly was depressed and talking to a friend when they said those powerful words to her. It changed her perspective. She realized she had a choice on how to live, fight, and recover from cancer. By facing death in the face, Shelly gained clarity. She made a promise to never forget that she was going to die. That may sound morbid, but it’s true for all of us. We just tend to ignore it most of our lives. In every choice that she made, she made sure to consider them in her five-year plan. She would ask herself, “if I were to die in five years, would I do this?” This was her blueprint for making the decisions for her life, family, marriage, friendships, community, and business. It was one of the main reasons why Shelly was so passionate, intentional, and laser-focused. She completely believed in her business because she knew her mission was important.              

Out of her passion, her book was born. We all know that eating healthy is essential, but we don’t do it. Maybe because we often think having a healthy lifestyle is expensive and takes too much time. But Shelly breaks down those common misconceptions in her book and teaches us how to save while eating healthy. So, she published her book in mid-January, got diagnosed with cancer by April, and received her last treatment by November. When December came, Shelly decided to spend those quiet moments with her family as she recovered her health. By January 2020, she already had 18 speaking engagements, and from here, she started to grow her email list. Shelly was doing lives, setting up book clubs and programs to accompany her book. Everything was exploding for her, and she had multiple revenue streams set up. By this time, Shelly had one goal, and that was to grow her email list from 900 to 10, 000. She discussed in detail all of the things she considered in making her list grow, which all came down to providing value to your audience.

As authors, we aim to have a system that would bring money all year round. I have talked about this topic in multiple episodes and I want to emphasize again the importance of having multiple revenue streams. Shelly extensively discussed how she built her system around her book in this episode. And it begins by knowing who you are and what you have to offer your audience. Once you have those foundations, you can build your marketing strategy around that and build a system that will work for you and your business. 

Shelly was a light in this world, full of knowledge and wisdom. I hope you listen to this episode and witness how amazing of a woman she was. She will be missed. 

Key takeaways:

  • It is essential to grow your email list because you cannot sell to the same audience over and over again.
  • When you have a growing audience, engage and communicate with them regularly to add value.
  • Market your strengths and leverage them to add value for your audience.
  • Make use of micro-holidays. Find the ones related to your topic and use them for marketing your book.
  • Know your audience. Know what they need and provide services that will answer those needs.
  • Understand affiliate marketing, and you will know the value of networking.
  • Establish yourself as an expert in your field by doing speaking engagements.
  • Learn how to promote yourself.

Mentioned in this episode:

PublishHER Podcast Episode 65

PublishHER Podcast Episode 65

You Are Not Your Worst Mistake

Have you ever made a mistake that changed your life? A mistake where you felt like you could not come back from it? That is exactly what happened to our guest, and in this episode, she told us how she helped someone escape from prison, went to prison herself, and how her world has evolved since then.

In this episode, I sit down with Toby Dorr, whose life is like an actual movie – almost. Lifetime is making a film based on her extraordinary life. She has a phenomenal story detailed in her memoir “Living With Conviction: Unexpected Sisterhood, Healing, and Redemption in the Wake of Life-Altering Choices.” Her story started on February 12, 2006, when she helped a convicted murderer at Lansing Correctional Facility escape from prison. They ran for 12 days until authorities caught up to them in Tennessee. They were forced onto a highway median at a hundred miles per hour and into a tree. The arresting US marshal said to Toby, “Don't let this be who you are.” Twenty-seven months later, she completed her time in federal prison. She has since remarried, finished two master's degrees, and has successfully rebuilt a broken life.  

“You are not your worst mistake.”

That is Toby's message to all our listeners and readers. She knows how “the escape” will surely be her most extraordinary experience. But Toby also knows that her gift to the world is greater. She has a message to all the women out there who said, “that could have been me”. This story was difficult to share, but Toby knew that the lessons shared from her experience would be a blessing to others. She describes “the escape” as something out of character for her. Toby felt invisible her whole life, but that changed when she met John Maynard, the prisoner she helped escape. Some events contributed to her story, including the loss of her daughter, Emily, 18 hours and 31 minutes after birth. Toby would keep crying when Emily was mentioned, and her husband didn't know how to deal with her and her emotions. They went in different directions in how they processed their grief, grew apart, and now they are divorced. These difficult moments in Toby's life led her to where she is now. A good place where she can acknowledge her experiences and gain wisdom from them.

In one of our episodes, I mentioned that you don't need to have a difficult past to have a story worth telling to the world. In Toby's case, however, her story was most extraordinary, and it was really important for her to share her experiences with the world. I admire her bravery in telling such a powerful and personal story. She hopes to impact those women who also feel invisible and tell them they need to escape their own personal prisons. Toby went to an actual prison, where she realized that her previous life was more of a prison.

“Be honest with yourself.”

When Toby decided she wanted to share her story, she started filling up journals in prison. She reminds us how important it is to be honest with yourself, even how ugly your story gets. Try to process the feelings associated with those memories and just write them all down. The most important thing is to write down everything you can remember and avoid leaving any details out. Your readers will know when you are not telling the whole story. Your story is worth nothing if you are not being honest and protecting yourself.

Toby also published a workbook series to provide hope and inspiration to struggling women. The “Unleashed Series” contains programs and exercises to help women grow and find their purpose. Her series is a great company to her memoir, which can inspire readers to be the change they want to see in the world.

“Those really difficult places in your life are the ones you need to be the most grateful for, because that's where character is born.”

In this episode, we have witnessed how great Toby is. We gained a ton of wisdom listening to her talk about her struggles and the difficult choices she has made. She is the perfect example of how you can choose to live your life on your own terms and how you can change your story after life throws you the worst curveball. Her book resonates with many women because we were all stuck in our own prisons at some point – whether it's a literal prison or something difficult happening in our lives. These prisons exist so we can break them down and emerge more powerful and braver than ever. Toby shared her story, and may it give us the courage to look into our lives and make our own changes.           

Key takeaways:

  • Finding a publisher who can understand you and make your story work for you is crucial. A publisher who's willing to listen and get your book where you want it to be.
  • Consider indie publishing if you want to be part of the whole process. You can be involved in all the discussions and decisions about your books, and your story will not suffer. 
  • Reading your book aloud or with an App can help you with the editing process.
  •  If you know someone who's struggling or hurt or in prison, be that person who makes yourself available to them. And you can then be part of a big change in the world. 
  •  It's okay to let go of some people who do not support you and don't want to come along on your journey. Know that you can make it through without them.

Connect with Toby Dorr and find out what she's up to:

Media appearances:

Book, Living With Conviction: Unexpected Sisterhood, Healing, and Redemption in the Wake of Life-Altering Choices by Toby Dorr

PublishHER Podcast Episode 64

PublishHER Podcast Episode 64

The Power of YOUR Story with April Pertuis

In this episode of PublishHer Podcast, I interviewed April Pertuis, and we talked all about storytelling. As authors, of course, we are all familiar with traditional storytelling. But in this episode, we talked about the type of storytelling that can be used as a marketing tool to build your platform, engage your audience, and sell your books. April also gave out actionable tips on leveraging your own story to help grow your business and get it to the next level.

April and I met last year during a business building event in Montana which was the first time I had gotten together with other people in over a year because of the pandemic situation. Meeting her was so much fun, and we bonded over margaritas and nachos.

April is a master storyteller. She is passionate about helping authors and other business leaders expertly share their stories with the world. May it be in the form of podcasts, books, stage performances, and social media content – April is the go-to expert when you need someone to engage your audience with your story. She is the CEO and Founder of LIGHTbeamers, a community dedicated to helping business owners make sense of their story and gain clarity, confidence, and connections that would help them share it with the world. April also hosts the VIP Visibility Accelerator program, where she helps women dig into their stories and use them to grow an engaged audience. She is also a best-selling author. Her first collaborative book, “Elevate Your Voice” was named one of the Top 10 Women & Business books by Amazon. April is also an accomplished podcaster. Her podcast “The Inside Story Podcast” was ranked among the Top 200 Business Podcasts on Apple Podcasts. She was a former television journalist and video producer and has spent the last 15 years in video marketing. There is no one better who can understand the importance of telling “the story,” April has the skills and the experience to harness your story and effectively communicate it for broad appeal.

 “Everyone has a story.”

 April firmly believes that each of us holds a story worth sharing, whether or not trauma or loss is involved. Many people have come upon April and asked for help because they really don’t know how to tell their story. At the bottom line, storytelling for April is just a way to communicate and share your journey with someone else. She also points out that effective storytelling involves picking out parts in your journey where you learned a few lessons, gained some insightful experiences, and encountered a transformation. You don’t need to tell your story in chronological order from birth until you are about 40 years old. April helps her clients understand the transformative parts of their life and use them as illustrations of light and positivity to serve as teachings for other people. As a business owner, telling these powerful parts of your story will magnetize people to you and help you build an engaged audience.

As authors, we are public figures and storytellers by nature. Every time we put out a book, there will be a story behind it. It doesn’t matter if it’s your first time getting published or if it’s your 27th book, your experiences evolve. There’s always something unique happening every time you go through that process. Storytelling also means that you have to understand that your audience wants to experience that journey with you. There might be people in your audience who are aspiring to be an author, and they might be living vicariously by listening to your stories. Behind-the-scenes stories are essential, but there are also stories about your characters, the scenes, and the motivations you had while writing your book.

“We just have to trust the process.”

Writing and sharing your own story can be difficult, but we have to trust the process. We have to remind ourselves that it is not about ourselves but the people we serve, our audience. We have to disregard our fears and insecurities and let our audience decide if our story created an impact on them. Let them decide if they could relate or if they gained any value in our stories. We must trust the process and share our own story the best way we know how – by being real and vulnerable.

Key takeaways:

  • Meaningful stories can come from different stages of your life. April is a master storyteller who can help you make sense of your journey and pick out the parts worth sharing with the world.
  • Building your audience from scratch is hard work, but telling your own story will help you grow an engaged audience.
  • April has a podcast with weekly episodes where she shares her own inside stories alongside the powerful stories of people, brands, and organizations and how they came to be successful.
  • Storytelling is not all about advertising or marketing; it’s more about making an impact. It’s about reaching people and allowing your audience to experience the journey with you.
  • Stephen King is known as the best horror writer of our time, but one of his best-selling books is about his writing journey. Stories are powerful, and people want to read about Stephen King’s story to experience that journey with him.
  • Social media is a gift. It has provided a great service to connect with our audience where we can treat them as our best friends.

Resources and links mentioned:

Connect with the master storyteller, April Pertuis:

Listen to our guest’s Podcast, “The Inside Story Podcast with April Adams Pertuis”: 

Get VIP treatment from April and let her help you make sense of your story.

 

Listen to this episode!

PublishHER Podcast Episode 63

PublishHER Podcast Episode 63

Jen Milius – Developmental Editor

In this new episode of PublishHer Podcast, I sit down with Jen Milius, a Developmental Editor I also work closely with. If you have been following our podcasts, you would know that I am in the throes of doing developmental editing for my first novel, which was a really fun and enlightening experience because I haven't needed a Developmental Editor for my previous non-fiction novels. Jen and I met through the Women in Publishing summit, and I instantly picked her brain because I was at a point where I was figuring out where to go with my new book.

Jen Milius is an entrepreneur, developmental editor, coach, and accomplished author. She has published seven children's books in the series “Einstein and Moo.” She has co-authored “You Know it's a Verb, Right?” a book that encompasses personal development, business, and leadership principles. She has a degree in Communications and a Master's in Business Administration with 20 years of experience in the corporate world. She is passionate about helping other authors, and aspiring writers tell their stories through writing and leaving a legacy by confidently sharing those stories with the world.

In this episode, we talked about developmental editing and how it compares to the other forms of editing. We also discussed all you need to know about a developmental editor – when you need one, why you need one, and how you work with one. According to Jen, developmental editing is about looking at the big picture and can be applied to non-fiction books and fiction novels.

For instance, in non-fiction books, Jen looks at how the author is taking the reader on a journey to solve a problem and how the messaging of the book will lead to a transformation for the reader towards the end. Previously, I commented that non-fiction authors do not need developmental editing, but Jen opened my eyes and proved me wrong. Developmental editing is just as important in non-fiction books because you still take your readers on a journey to find solutions, learn skills, and acquire new information.

In contrast, when it comes to fiction, Jen looks at several critical factors to make the story work. Developmental editing for fiction books involves looking at plot holes, character development, pacing, and the story's overall flow as it provides an escape for the reader. Fiction books are made for entertainment, and it is important to have that in mind when doing developmental editing and consider the emotions that readers go through as they read your book.

So, when do you decide you need a developmental editor if you're writing a book?

According to Jen, you can reach out to her at any stage of your book. As mentioned earlier, developmental editing is about the bigger picture. Still, it is also about looking at how the characters fit into the story, how the plot develops, how the scenes are arranged, and how the story develops. She also emphasized getting beta readers because having another set of eyes is crucial in the developmental editing process. Beta readers are a group of people tasked to read an unpublished book or manuscript and provide feedback to the author through the lens of an ordinary reader. Getting beta readers' feedback is essential in different stages of the editing process to ensure the messaging of the story aligns and will make the readers feel they have been taken on an emotional or transformative journey.

As someone who has worked with Jen, we have formed a very close relationship. Jen also emphasized that when looking for a developmental editor, make sure that you fit well and work well together. Having a developmental editor will be a long journey for both of you, and it is important that you understand each other. That's why for Jen, the first one-on-one call or the discovery call is crucial because she can get more information from the client, which will help her realize the vision for the book and will help her in developing the messaging of the book.

Jen believes everyone has a story, and she helps them share it beautifully with the world. Authors have been given the gift to tell their stories, and she is passionate about making their stories heard.  

Key takeaways:

  • Jen's path to becoming a developmental editor was not straightforward.
  • Jen shares helpful tips on overcoming impostor syndrome inside the podcast.
  • Alexa shares how she struggles with impostor syndrome and how she deals with it.
  • Developmental editing can be done at any stage of the book writing process.
  • It is important to find the right developmental editor for you.

 

Resources and Links: 

Check out what Jennifer Milius is up to from her website:

www.jennifermilius.com 

Listen to Jen's podcast:

https://anchor.fm/thetuffishshow

Jen mainly hangs out on Instagram. Connect with her on Insta:

https://www.instagram.com/authorjennifermilius

Jen shares her developmental editing pearls on YouTube. Watch them here:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCo2Koti2pBdupY1AoVizfLg

Listen to this episode!