Everyone Starts Small So Get Started

By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin

When I talk with would-be book authors about starting an email newsletter or an ezine, I often hear, “No one will be interested in my newsletter and my list will be so small.” Or “What in the world will I write about or use to fill the newsletter (or starting a blog)?” Here’s the truth of the matter: everyone starts small. When you start any publication, you put yourself, your spouse and a few close friends to pad your newsletter list and get it going.

The key is to start and then consistently put out your newsletter. It doesn’t have to be often but it does have to be consistent and continually grow. Many people talk about writing and even repeatedly go to writers conferences, but the ones who succeed are the ones who continue to grow in their craft--and they consistently write. They write for magazines and they write fiction and nonfiction but they keep working at their writing.

I’m suggesting you can do the same thing when it comes to growing a newsletter. Over fifteen years ago, I started Right-Writing News I had less than 50 subscribers. Today I have thousands of subscribers and this list continues to grow. Yes, I’ve had a few people unsubscribe but that happens for many reasons and some of them have even unsubscribed then returned. It’s a free newsletter and I’ve produced 54 issues. If you look at the newsletter, I don’t write all of it but get articles from my friends and those articles promote their books and other work. You can do the same with your newsletter. It doesn’t have to be as much work as it appears. I have an  inexpensive Ebook to get you started called My List Building Tycoon. Newsletters, blogs or a book project or any type of consistent writing project takes work. Just keep the big picture in mind and take the plunge. If you struggle to get a publisher’s attention, a newsletter is one means to gain their interest.

New York Times bestselling romance novelist, Debbie Macomber continues to grow her newsletter list and use it. This Christian writer often uses her newsletter to reach her fans to tell them about her newest book plus promote a 20-city tour. Publishers Weekly wrote about a Chicago signing where fans lined up for more than two hours to meet her. Then the magazine says, “Many attendees learned about the signings through e-mails from Macomber. At every appearance, she invites readers to join her e-mail list--already over 90,000 names. Mira reports 480,000 copies in print (of Twenty Wishes).” Macomber has established a personal connection to her audience.

The value of your list and that direct connection to the author will be evident in your book proposal and pitches to publishers. It will pay off. Are you struggling to get a publisher’s attention? Whether you are a first time author or a much published author, I encourage you to build your newsletter audience and communicate with them on a regular basis.

Years ago when I was a literary agent, I sold a book project to Harvest House Publishers. This author has a newsletter list with 10,000 people. He travels the world and teaches but collected this database of people and regularly communicated with them. The publisher could see potential book sales because this author was connected with his audience. He’s now published several books with the same publisher.

A newsletter does not have to consume hours of your time or attention. You do need to send it on a regular basis. I encourage you to imagine yourself as a magazine editor. Collect stories from others and write your own stories on a topic—and build your audience through your newsletter.

As you take action, you will become a more proactive author and increase your visibility in the marketplace. Do you have an email list and use it consistently? Let me know in the comments below.


With an email list, everyone starts small so get started. Get insights and encouragement in this article. (ClickToTweet)


W. Terry Whalin is an acquisitions editor at Morgan James Publishing. His work contact information is on the bottom of the second page (follow this link).  One of his books for writers is Jumpstart Your Publishing Dreams, Insider Secrets to Skyrocket Your Success. One of Terry's most popular free ebooks is Straight Talk From the Editor, 18 Keys to a Rejection-Proof Submission. He lives in Colorado and has over 205,000 twitter followers 


Anne Duguid Knol said...

Exactly where I'm at, Terry, thank you. I have set up a new website--still in preliminary stages--and am trying to link Mailerlite to it for my newsletter. I can send emails but still have to figure out why I can't receive them. Job for this weekend. I've never had a newsletter but really see how important it is. All advice gratefully received.

Karen Cioffi said...

Terry, this is such good advice. Many authors feel intimidated when it comes to the email list. Your examples should help them understand that a newsletter is important and the connections that are made with readers through it are even more important. Thanks for sharing!

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