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August 22, 2016

How to Create a Newsletter


NOTE: This post has been revised since publication due to changes with newsletters. 

I started my author newsletter in 2016, and I love it! Some authors decide not to do one for various reasons, which is just fine. The decision is up to the author. But first, dispel the idea that it’ll take too much time. Once you create one newsletter to email to your subscribers, you can use that format to make another one in just minutes by reusing the template or copying the entire newsletter. And don't believe that you need hundreds of readers either. You can get subscribers to your newsletter without having readers.

Before You Start:
Set up an email address domain. What is this? An email address domain is special, and it’s just for you. After the @ symbol, instead of or, it’ll be your website domain. Such as
You don't need a website, though. All you need is a domain name. It can be one you've already purchased or you can purchase one when you create your email.
Why do I say to do this? Because personal email addresses from Yahoo, AOL, Gmail, and Hotmail won’t work well. These email hosts make it extremely difficult to deliver mass emails. Many of them may not be delivered into your subscribers' inboxes and could bounce because the receivers' servers mark them as spam. If you don’t get a domain email address, you’re taking a risk of being continuously marked as spam, which will blacklist your email address.

There Are Many Sites That Offer Email Address Domains:
· (free)

TIP: Also consider getting a PO Box to input into your mailing address field. A real address is a requirement to send out newsletters to prove it’s not spam.
Now that you have your spiffy new email address domain for the From Sender Address, let’s get started on your newsletter:

1. There Are a Lot of Email Hosts Out There
Do some research, compare the features and prices, make your choice, and sign up!

2. Know What You Want to Name Your Author Newsletter
My newsletter is called Chrys’ Chronicles. Nora Roberts’ newsletter is Nora’s News. It can be catchy or straight forward. This is also what you’ll put in the Subject Line for your subscribers to see.
TIP: In the subject line, also try to include the month or something catchy.
Example: Chrys’ Chronicles - August or Chrys’ Chronicles - My Battle

3. Have a Banner
Make sure your banner has the same feel and graphics as the banner you use for your blog/website, etc. The banner for my newsletter has sparks on it, and so does my banner for my blog. There are even sparks on my business card! Putting your author tagline on your banner is a great branding opportunity, and adding your books’ cover images to the banner is a great marketing opportunity, too.

4. Select a Design/Layout
There are many designs for newsletters that you can choose from. Think about your personality, your blog/website’s look, and try to find something to match it. Plus, check out the layout (single column, two columns) to see if you’ll be able to include what you plan to share in your newsletter, such as images.

5. Build Your First Newsletter
After selecting your design and giving it a name, you need to make it look attractive. Most email hosts let you easily drag and drop the things you want into your newsletter. So, if you want to add text, select the “text” block, drag it to your newsletter’s body, and drop it where you want it to go.
You may have to fiddle around with these tools before you get it to look how you want it to look. Experiment before you start emailing subscribers.

TIP: Include a short bio (even shorter than your 100-word bio) and your author photo at the end of your newsletter. After all, you’re an author and you want people to know about you. Sometimes, I change my photo for fun.

TIP: Also, add a note at the bottom stating your subscribers’ rights to request what data you have on them and to have that data deleted, which includes having a visible unsubscribe button.

6. Share Features
Include social media share buttons at the top of your newsletter so people can share your newsletter. You want them to be able to do this, because if they do, their followers may be interested in signing up.

7. Follow Features
Add follow buttons so people who have signed up for your newsletter can easily follow you on Facebook, Twitter, etc.

8. Add an Extra Button
Some providers allow you to add a button that subscribers can click on. Add a button linked to your opt-in form. This is a must if you allow subscribers to forward/share your newsletters to people they know.

9. Use Dividers
If you have a lot of content, keep it neat and orderly with dividers. These dividers are black lines that separate things nicely.

10. Put the title of your newsletter beneath the banner, in bold.

11. Include a “Welcome Message” and make it different for each newsletter by updating your subscribers on what you’ve been up to.

12. Save It
When your newsletter looks good and has all the content, save it. You don’t have to email it yet. You can keep it as a draft or schedule it to go out later.

13. Create an Opt-In (Sign-Up) Form
Add your banner to the sign-up form. Include a short message telling people what they’re opting-in to, what they can expect to get from your newsletter, and that their data will be kept private. Then select the information you’ll want to ask subscribers for. Also, activate double opt-in if it’s not already set up. Double opt-in means subscribers will receive a confirmation email. This ensures that someone really did consent to sign up for your emails.

TIP: Keep the information you ask for simple. Obviously ask for their email. If you want a first name, make this optional. That’s it!

14. Create a “Thank You” Page.
Once you save the details for your sign-up form, you’ll be able to design the “Thank You” page. Again, add you banner. Include a header such as “Thank you!” Then add a short message of thanks and a note to remind them to check for the email confirmation. You can also add a clickable gift as an incentive. For my newsletter, I direct new subscribers to my free story, Lightning Crimes, on the “Thank You” page.

15. Put the Sign-Up Form on Your Blog and Website
Use the newsletter’s opt-in form link to create a page on your blog and website (yes, both!) so people can sign up. Title this page “Newsletter” or “Newsletter Sign Up.” This is essential. New visitors to your blog/website won't know you have a newsletter otherwise.

16. Share the Link
Share the opt-in form’s link on your social media and blog to let followers know they can sign up for your newsletter.

17. Create a Badge for Your Blog and Website
If you are good with graphics, create a badge to put in the sidebar of your blog and website. Make it clickable by adding the opt-in form’s link.

18. Add a “Newsletter Sign-Up” App to Your Facebook Page
I know MailChimp has an app that allows you to add it by integrating MailChimp with your Facebook account. If you can’t do that, though, search for “Static HTML – Thunderpenny” in your FB search bar.
·        Click on “Go to App” then click “Add Static HTML to a Page.”
·        Choose your page and add the app.
·        Now your page is a newsletter box. Hover over the app image, click on the little pencil icon in the corner, and then click “edit settings.”
·        Change the image. It has to be exactly 111 x 74 pixels.
·        Customize the tab name to “Newsletter” or “Newsletter Sign Up.”
·        Now click the tab and click “edit tab.” At the top, it’ll say Static HTML. Paste in the HTML code for your newsletter. You will get one at the same time as you get the link to your sign-up form.
·        Click “save and publish” then “done editing tab.”
·        Finally, go to your page and test out the tab, even test out the form to make sure it works. If it doesn’t, try pasting in the HTML again.

19. Get Subscribers.
A) Post on your blog, website, and all your social media sites letting your followers know about your newsletter. Direct them to your opt-in form.
B) Do a giveaway where people have to sign up for your newsletter to be eligible to win. I do this all the time and get an amazing response. The giveaway could be in a Facebook group for a Facebook party. Provide the opt-in form’s URL for interested people.
C) Do a Rafflecopter giveaway with subscribing to your newsletter as the first option with the most points. When you do this, link to the opt-in form for your newsletter in the Rafflecopter option and have people enter their email address. Include a message stating if they enter their email address, they are consenting to let you manually subscribe them with that email.
D) Pass around a clipboard with sign-up sheets while doing a reading. Interested people can put down their name and email address.
TIP: If you manually enter subscribers, always keep your sign-up sheets as proof of consent. For Rafflecopter, print out an Excel spreadsheet of all entries.
E) Have a sign-up sheet at your table when you’re doing a signing or at a book event. Add a giveaway as an incentive. Tell everyone who comes to your table that if they sign up for your newsletter, they’ll have a chance to win that prize. Have the prize on your table so they can see it. Or you can be technically savvy by using a tablet and having them sign up using your opt-in form.
F) Include a link to your opt-in form in your email signature.

20. Set a Date Each Month to Send Out Your Newsletter
Try not to do it within the first few days of the month because that’s when EVERYONE sends out their newsletters. Yours will get lost in the mix. I send mine out during the third week of the month. But you don’t need to send out a newsletter every month, you can do it bi-monthly instead. Just please don’t send one weekly or bi-weekly. There’s no point in emailing your subscribers that much, and it could result in a loss of subscribers, as they probably get a lot of emails already.
The day your newsletter goes out, go back to your account, click on the sent newsletter, and check out the stats. Some providers show you how many people opened your newsletter, who those people are, how many people unsubscribed or clicked on something within your newsletter, and emails that bounced.

21. Make Your Newsletter Unique and Don’t Make It All About You
You can highlight one of your books but do it in a way that’ll be interesting to your readers. And don’t just use your newsletter to be all me-me-me or my book this, my book that. Give subscribers something more. When I started to share personal stories, I got emails from subscribers saying how brave I was for sharing those things. That meant a lot to me, and it also told me people were reading and reacting to my newsletters.

22. Offer Occasional Prizes Only to Those Who Have Subscribed
You can give it to everyone (if it’s something easily emailable), do a drawing, or first come, first serve by sending you an email. For a year, I gave away a book (different authors and genres) in each issue and had a Google Form for those who were interested in entering to win. Then I randomly picked a winner and mailed that person the book. I included a card and some SWAG as well.

23. Tell your newsletter subscribers your good news first before you share it anywhere else. This will make them feel valued.

24. Share teasers from your WIP or an upcoming book, announce sales and giveaways, share recipes, poetry, and photos from your life. Make your newsletters worthwhile for subscribers.

TIP: Every 6–12 months, examine your subscriber’s list for inactive people who haven’t opened a single email and remove them. This will improve your open rate and lower your subscriber count if your service is free up to a certain number.

After you put in the effort to set up a newsletter and get subscribers, you’ll have a lot of fun writing and sharing to dozens (maybe even hundreds) of pen pals. A newsletter is a wonderful marketing tool, and it’s a way to build a connection with your readers. Enjoy it! I do.


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Now I know why I'm glad you're in charge of the newsletter for the IWSG.
Hover is where we got the domain name, so it's where we got the new email address as well.

Pat Hatt said...

Ugg, it sounds so daunting to set up haha I know once it is set up it will be easy to run, I just don't want to set it up haha maybe I'll get to it one day. I blame the cat for being so lazy.

Blogoratti said...

Wonderful and useful post, thanks for sharing!

Chrys Fey said...

Thanks, Alex!

That's why I put Hover as #2. :)

Chrys Fey said...

It can sound daunting in the beginning. Especially when you look at all of this, but if you take it one step at a time and don't rush yourself with a deadline, it's doable. Your newsletters would be fun, Pat! And since you plan so many blog posts ahead of time, you could do the same with your newsletters. :)

Chrys Fey said...

Thank you!

Roland D. Yeomans said...

You put a lot of hard work into this and it shows. There are so many newsletters out there that it seems it would be easy to get lost in the forest of them. Most people have so little time to read that I think the effort to put out a good newsletter could be put to better use writing a good novel. When a route to get more readers is one that everyone is using, I believe that is the time to avoid the traffic jam!

Bish Denham said...

I'm not sure if this is something I'll do, but I've printed it out for *deep reading*. Thanks, Chrys!

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Great share. I browsed through it, then downloaded the PDF to read at length (and more often) later. Thanks so much.

Chrys Fey said...

It can be easy to get lost in all the newsletters that come out. That's why making it unique is extremely important. It has to stand out. Honestly, the effort isn't as much as you expect. I can create one newsletter in twenty minutes. That's just twenty minutes each month.

Chrys Fey said...

Thanks for printing it out, Bish!

Chrys Fey said...

You're welcome, Elizabeth!

nashvillecats2 said...

This is so interesting Chrys, I will certainly download it later. I often wondered how news letters were done. Thanks for sharing.

Chrys Fey said...

You're welcome, Yvonne! And thanks for downloading. :)

Carrie-Anne said...

A good newsletter must stand out. I'd like to see ephemera related to the writer's books and research, like recipes, information about the places featured, profiles of animal breeds in the story, and extra interviews with firsthand sources consulted.

diedre Knight said...

You're right, this is a keeper. Thanks for the download. It does seem like a lot to do in the beginning, but I bet it's easy once you're past the initial set-up. I don't know what in the world I'd talk about as a rule, but I could use it as a special bulletin ;-)
Thanks, Chrys!

J.L. Campbell said...

Thanks, Chrys. This will be helpful for many who dread starting a newsletter.

Chemist Ken said...

Okay, im definitely downloading the pdf. There's a lot of great information in here. Maybe this is the push I need to start my own newsletter. Thanks, Chrys.

Beverly Stowe McClure said...

This is great. Will download it to read more slowly. I've been thinking about a newsletter but did not know exactly where to start. Thanks. This will help.

Chrys Fey said...

Those are excellent ideas! I've shared earthquake facts and recipes. :)

Chrys Fey said...

There are a lot of steps to get started but once you do them, you don't have to do them again. :) For your newsletter, I imagine tidbits on haunted places, poems, and 100-200 flash fiction. I'd subscribe!

Chrys Fey said...

Thanks, J.L.!

Chrys Fey said...

Awesome! Thank you for downloading the PDF. And you're very welcome! You're newsletter would be packed with useful info and interesting tidbits.

Chrys Fey said...

I'm so glad I can help. I didn't know where to start and having to learn these steps on my own was hard. That's why I created this post and the PDF. :)

cleemckenzie said...

They're a lot of work when done well. Great job in laying out the how to!

Chrys Fey said...

Yes, they do take a lot of work, especially when you first start, but they get easier.

Liz A. said...

I'll have to look at this when I get to the point of needing to create a newsletter. Which I figure won't be until after I publish a book. Which will be after I finish said book. So, this will be down the road a bit.

Sheena-kay Graham said...

It took me a long time to get interested in newsletters. I do read them more now but don't think I'll go that route myself. Still these are really good tips Chrys and all the best with your newsletter.

Sherry Ellis said...

This is really useful information! I personally have not tried the newsletter route. I'd be interested to know if having a newsletter results in more sales.

J.Q. Rose said...

Wow! Thank you so much for this detailed info on creating a newsletter. I MUST try this, but I still haven't stopped to figure out how to make a landing page! I'll work on it. Vertical sounds like something I'll check out. I signed up with Mail Chimp and was overwhelmed. Thanks for having the PDF download. You're a smart cookie!

Chrys Fey said...

Which is another reason why I created the document, so it can be used whenever you may need it. :)

Chrys Fey said...

That's okay. You don't have to go that route. :)

Chrys Fey said...

I haven't used my newsletter yet to try to sell my books. I've shared teasers of my upcoming release, though, hoping that'll get some readers interested. I'll try some techniques in the future to see if I can get sales through a promo in my newsletter.

Chrys Fey said...

You're welcome, J Q! Beginning on another newsletter host can be overwhelming at first. That's why it's important to hunt around and take things slow. But I do think VerticalResponse has an easy website to navigate.

Lisa Thomson said...

Wow, great step by step instructions, Chrys. You do a great job on your newsletter! Mail chimp also has an upgrade or premium subscription where they offer far more in the way of stats info on your account. Definitely you want to have your website link on that newletter because that's the ultimate goal to get visitors and then book sales?

Chrys Fey said...

Yes, they do have premium subscriptions, but I don't use them. Exactly. I have my links at the bottom with my bio but also that button under the Welcome Message. I want people to go to my website. :)

diedre Knight said...

Bless your heart, thanks for the vote of confidence:-)

emaginette said...

Wow! There's a lot to know. I downloaded my copy. Thanks so much, Chrys. :-)

Anna from elements of emaginette

Chrys Fey said...

You're welcome, Anna! :)

Murees Dupè said...

Thank you so much for this awesome post! I signed up to Mailchimp in the beginning of the year, but never got around to figuring it all out. Thank you for making it so easy for me to follow:)

Chrys Fey said...

You're so very welcome! If you have any questions, feel free to email me. :)

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for all the helpful info, Chrys! I just downloaded the pdf. Maybe it will inspire me to finally start a newsletter, especially since I found this post through your newsletter. :)

Chrys Fey said...

I love that you found this post through my newsletter. :)

Chrys Fey said...

And I mean it, too. :)

sherry fundin said...

I have thought of a newsletter for those who want to follow but don't want to daily post. I think it would be great to put one out once a month with a recap. Thanks so much for all the info!!!!!I downloaded the pdg and pinned this post. :-)
sherry @ fundinmental

Chrys Fey said...

In my newsletter, I include the top 4 posts from my blog that month, I love to use it as a little recap. :)

Birgit said...

This is excellent! For people who need a newsletter and are unsure how to proceed, you give a nice step by step and offer great advice

Neurotic Workaholic said...

Wow, your plans sound very well thought out and well-organized. They sound kind of fun too. Maybe someday I'll create my own newsletter. :)

Loni Townsend said...

Someday, someday, I will get myself to do this. Downloaded for future reference. (Thanks for that!)

Crystal Collier said...

Awesome tips, Chrys. I've been doing Newsletters for about 4 years and I love them. It's so nice to be able to communicate directly with my book peeps. Nothing better.

Chrys Fey said...

I get your newsletters and enjoy them. I especially like your book reviews/recommendations.

Chrys Fey said...

You're welcome, Loni!

Chrys Fey said...

They are kind of fun! :D

Chrys Fey said...

Thank you, Birgit!

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Excellent step by step guide.

Chrys Fey said...

Thanks, Diane!

Nick Wilford said...

Thanks for this exhaustive guide! I'll definitely be coming back to it when I start my newsletter, which will hopefully not be too far into the future. So much that I hadn't realised, including having a dedicated email address.

Chrys Fey said...

I had to learn each of these through trial and error and research. That's why I wanted to share make it easier for others. :)

sage said...

Give me helpful ideas and don't always try to be selling. I use constant contact with my work-related email. I find that I get more from author's blogs than newsletters.

Chrys Fey said...

Not selling to subscribers in every newsletter is important. I only mentioned my bookson if I have a new release or sale. And I share teasers for my WIP.

J.H. Moncrieff said...

Very helpful! I've been so behind on sending out my newsletter--ugh.

I always like to hear good news beyond "I have another book coming out." Too many advertisements turn me off. And I'll never read serial fiction on a newsletter, even if I really enjoy the writing.

Chrys Fey said...

I hate ads in newsletters, too. Which is funny since I tried a couple of paid ads in newsletters. Maybe I should've asked my reader self how I thought about that. ;)

Julie Flanders said...

Thank you so much for putting this together!! I am saving the PDF for sure. You rock, Chrys.

Chrys Fey said...

You're welcome, Julie!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Chrys - this is wonderful ... I knew it would be - but held back reading for a while. I've downloaded it - and will definitely take note ... this will be a great help. Thanks so much ... cheers Hilary

Chrys Fey said...

I'm so glad you think so, Hilary. ☺

Victoria Marie Lees said...

Thank you so much for this, Chrys. I've downloaded it and saved it. I also shared it online. All best to you!

Chrys Fey said...

Awesome. Thanks for sharing! And I truly hope this helps you. :)