Hopefully by now, you understand the importance of having an e-mail newsletter, You’ve done the broad planning of what you will offer, and you’ve chosen a service provider. (If you missed out on the rest of the series, it is as follows: the importance of having an e-mail newsletter, the broad planning of what you will offer, choosing a Service Provider, and What goes in the Welcome Email, Just Because You Build it, Doesn’t Mean they’ll Come. be sure to see the whole series.)
You need to craft an automated responder to your new subscribers. For those who subscribed to see how mine looks, you won’t necessarily have so much to say. (I also have different autoresponders depending on how they got to my e-newsletter.) The key to the auto-responder length is to give them just enough to keep them subscribed, without annoying them to the point that they unsubscribe. A fine balance that you will need to A/B test to make sure yours is most effective.
So what should you say? Well, first you want to thank them. Then you want to let them know a little bit about who you are. Don’t just assume that they will know. Let them know about your books. Last, let them know what they can expect from your e-newsletter.
When I was doing B2B CyCon in 2016, I signed up for a bunch of e-newsletters as part of entering for prizes and such. I got some really interesting responses.
A few were obviously new and their genre manager coached them on the importance of using this as an opportunity to build an e-newsletter list. They emailed me directly from their personal email accounts. And that was actually what inspired this whole segment, to be honest.
Some were really… awful. But there were some really great gems.
One, a brand new author who emailed from his gmail account, actually did a lot right! He reminded me how I happened to come across him and then immediately said “ If you’d rather not be on my list, just reply to this email with the word “Unsubscribe” in the Subject line.,” (Can-Spam requirement, check!)
He shared his book cover and a sample from the book and let me know when the next book was coming out. (Telling me about his books, check!)
Unfortunately, it’s been four months and he hasn’t emailed me since.
Another author, Zachery Paul Chopchinski, stole my geeky little heart with his intro:
The Official Bowtie Author Newsletter
Any Whovian subscribing to a steampunk author’s newsletter and getting this intro would have their little heart skip a beat!
Then he made sure to get me in the geeky feels:
Hi Friends, First off, I want to welcome you to the fold! There is a secret handshake, though…we will have to go over that later, since it’s a little hard to do over email.
Secret handshake? The fangirl is swooning!
He told me about his book, offered it for free even, and about his future publishing plans, then sealed my staying on the list with this adorable ending
Until next time friends,
Yes, that’s him with a bowtie! And all in blue, like so not even subtly drawing a comparison to that big blue box! SOLD!
He emails monthly and every email is as delightfully geeky!
But none of them quite got the whole formula right. So I decided to lay it out for you.
First Step- Thank You
You want to thank them (And if you are doing an event or something that leads to subscribers, mention that’s where they met you. If you are doing instafreebie, mention that’s where they found you, etc. This is where creating tags and multiple auto-responders comes in really handy!)
Second Step- Introduce yourself
Now introduce yourself. Make it fun and charming, and as perfectly to your genre as Zach did!
If you have more than one book in a series, go ahead and give it away free to get them started if you want. But if you don’t, give them a chance to buy it. Zach was probably just following the advice on pretty much every single blog out there to give them something good. But he already did that with his intro. He didn’t have to give me his book too. Now he won’t get as many sales (FYI, I totally bought it and can’t wait to read it. But most readers won’t think like that.)
Do you want to give them something, but you’re on your first book like Zach? Give them a popular icon in the genre, like a free copy of a classic book. Give them a taste of your writing by sharing a short story or a bit that got cut from the original story, or a character one sheet (Make it fun. Make it really fun by casting your book with celebrity actors!) But if you only have the one book out, don’t give them that book.
Third Step- What’s in it for them?
Now, you want to let them know what they will be getting from this newsletter and how often. Something none of the folks from B2B got right, but Andy Peloquin nails beautifully with his intro (Which I can’t quote because I no longer have it, DARN!) He lets you know that he will send monthly short stories from the world of Voramis, along with progress on his works, books he’s reading, and any other fantasy fun that crosses his desk. (Leaving him open to share all his fun during his signing at San Diego ComicCon and to do newsletter swaps with other Fantasy authors. Well, played, sir. Well, played!)
Fourth Step- Tell them about your book
Now you want to let them know about your book(s) and where to find them. After all, that’s the main purpose of the e-newsletter, right? But don’t be heavy-handed, just give them the brief introduction and 1 link, (If you sell on multiple retailers, a nice way to get around leaving five million links is to say “Available at all major retailers, or from the author’s website” and link to your book page. Another great option is to use the Draft 2 Digital universal book link.)
If you have not published yet, that’s ok too. Tell them about your work in progress. Don’t make the mistake I make ALL THE TIME and give them an unrealistic deadline for when you will be done. Setting deadlines is great for keeping you motivated, but breaking deadlines is a great way to lose fans. Ask Cristopher Paolini. He lost a LOT of fans when he was almost a year late with book 2 in the Inheritance Cycle.
Final Step- Make Them Feel Special
Lastly, leave them feeling special. Whether that’s a fun signing off, like Zach used, or a free short story, like Andy uses. Leave them with warm fuzzies so they don’t scroll to the bottom and click the unsubscribe button that has to be there thanks to Can-Spam.
And there you have it. Automated responder set and ready to go.
Have you experienced any great or bad autoresponder e-mails? Let us know in the comments below.
Until next time,