What NOT to put in your Newsletter

I sent out my second newsletter ever last night. As you all know, I published my book, Blood & Holy Water, this week and wanted to tell my list. That’s why you have a mailing list, right? To share things with them.

Well, it’s been twelve hours since I sent my newsletter out to 1502 people, and I’ve already seen the following:

  • 40 unsubscribes (out of the 348 people who opened it)
  • 2 reports as abuse/spam

Is this bad? The unsubscribes don’t bother me, as most my list was from instafreebies with basically this message: Sign up for my newsletter, and I’ll send you this book free. You can unsubscribe whenever you like. Besides, once I hit 2000 people on MailChimp, I need to start paying for the service (or switching email providers.)

The two reports of abuse/spam make me nervous. I’d hate for MailChimp to suspend my account. This made me think about my newsletter content. Was it spammy?

Yes, it was! Nearly the whole darn thing! It’s funny how blind you can be to things until someone else points it out to you.

HERE‘s the Newsletter I sent out. You can click it to see the whole thing.

newsletter april

The newsletter was promotional as it’s focus was to announce my new book. To loyal fans, I thought I added value by discussing how the book’s ideas were formed, links to my blog, and a comic too. The newsletter did generate 30-40 book sales so far (out of the 348 opens…a 10% sale rate makes me happy.)

What can I do to lower the unsubscribes and prevent the abuse/spam reports? I  had blogged about newsletter content HERE, but am changing some of my thoughts.

The keys:

  1. Weed out the sign-up-for-free-content-only seekers before sending the main monthly campaign (see “Welcome Email Series” below.)
  2. Make sure the readers know who you are. I’ve been afraid to annoy my readers by emailing too frequently. I’m learning now, that I should be sending something more routinely.  Other authors have done polls and their readers say they’d love to hear from the author weekly. I’m hesitant for this, and will try monthly. I’m also going to add my book covers to my newsletter banner — hopefully, this reminds the subscriber who I am.
  3. Provide valuable content. The 80/20 rule applies to the content in the newsletter. 80% non-promotional and 20% promotional. What kind of valuable content?
    1. Sneak Peaks
    2. Contests
    3. Entertainment (An author friend of mine is starting a serial newsletter book. In each newsletter — she sends it out weekly — she includes the next part of the serial novel.)
    4. ???
  4. Keep it simple. Everyone’s short on time. I may cut out my blog feed, thought I was thinking this was the VALUABLE content.

This whole thing is a journey, and I’ll learn so much more as time passes.

A WELCOME EMAIL SERIES when people first subscribe. This suggested schedule was taken directly from Nicholas Erik’s website. I’ve also seen a 7 email welcome string but felt that was too long. I may start with two emails…maybe three.

  1. Immediate: Welcome (e.g. what to expect) + Your Free Book (give them a link to the free book)
  2. Day 3: Free Book #2 (if you have another – don’t send them all at once) or Ask Them if They Got Book #1 Okay/How They Like It
  3. Day 10: Free Book #3 or Ask Them About Their Favorite Books in the Genre/Recommend Them One
  4. Day 17: The Next Paid Book in the Series (or Box Set), with retailer link/cover + small backstory/blurb
  5. Day 25: Ask Them to Join Your ARC Review Team or Ask Them to Review the Free Book

The other point I want to touch on. In the past twelve hours, I’ve had 348 opens out of 1502 emails. Where did the other 1154 emails go? If they were like the one I got, directly into my junk folder.

This can be triggered by the “from” email address…the subject line…or even the number of links in the email. I think it’s time to upgrade my wordpress site to obtain my own domain name. I’ve been sending my newsletter from my gmail account.

Many authors say to resend your email to the non-openers in a few days. Change the subject line and/or the “from” email address. Keep the new one short and sweet.

Those are my thoughts this morning (it’s hard sharing one’s failures, but that’s how we learn.) Here’s to no more abuse/spam reports. Have a great weekend!

Any other newsletter tips? What do you like to receive? What do you send?


  1. I subscribe to a number of author’s newsletters. Hate to be brutally honest but unless something grabs me as I open them, they usually go straight into the trash. And what grabs me? That ethereal something that changes with the season, the moment, my mood.

    A historical novelist includes a book giveaway, always historical fiction. A critique partner puts together graphics and little quizzes to engage readers. The first writes monthly, the second quarterly. Both focus on their reader’s interests while promoting their own work.

    They’ve been doing it a while and I’m sure you’ll find your way with upcoming newsletters. Best of luck.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the ideas! Your comments definitely sparked some new thoughts for me, and I brainstormed with my husband too. Truthfully, I unsubscribe to a whole mess of things too. I just get on a kick to minimize email. As always, thanks for all your support in my journey.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, then you face that they forget who you are! I delayed mine from August to February. It was time to bite the bullet. I’m up to 47 unsubscribes now…but 600 people opened it. That’s making me feel a little better.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for this valuable information! I’m in the process of growing my list too and some of your thoughts have been very helpful!


    1. I’m glad you took some points away. It’s probably not as bad as I make it out to be, as your true fans will probably never leave you, but there’s always ways to improve. Have a great rest of your weekend!


  3. I remember signing up for your newsletter and this post of yours made me actually look into my spam folder – and well, of course, the email was there! I read the entire thing, though, from this post and I think you have rightly identified the key areas where the newsletter might have seemed off: 1) It is a tad bit long 2) I think it totally makes sense to send out the newsletters a little more frequently – so as to remain in the minds of your subscribers (I subscribe to a lot of things myself and unless I have a regular contact point, I will forget what I signed up for). If you do send things more frequently, you will eventually end up shortening your promotional newsletters (like the present one), because you will have already provided the reader upcoming news in other emails.

    By the way, I love how wonderfully you analyze things after trying out something. I did some promotion for my first book and very less for my second – which sort of showed in the sales of the second book (only 2 so far). I am amazed by the sheer energy that you show towards your book! It’s a pleasure knowing you and your work.


    1. Oh, boy do I over analyze things! Thanks for sticking with me. I’m definitely going with shorter emails at a monthly interval. I won’t even mention my book’s for sale in the next one. 🙂 I do need to fix the spam thing…but I think shorter emails won’t trigger spam either. Oh well. Life would be no fun if we all were perfect, would it?

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you. I didn’t see it as spammy at first either, but two abuse reports withing the first hour or so had me worried. I haven’t had any more now, and my unsubscribes have slowed down. I’m just a worry wort and always try to make things better.

      Liked by 1 person

        1. B-A-R-N-E-Y, BARNEY. Wow. I forgot about that purple dinosaur. I’m so glad my kids are older now. I thought the newsletter was spammy because every column was selling something. (Except the blog roll.) I just want to balance it a little.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Got it, I try to send mine with news about upcoming stuff and book recommendations in my genre other than mine. But I expect to be sold when I sign up for mailing lists from favorite authors. Unless you send millions of emails, I wouldn’t consider it spam.

            Liked by 1 person

  4. I would be careful with sending out too many in a week. I downloaded a bunch of instafreebies on an email account I don’t use and my inbox exploded with so many emails. A lot of them were just garbage “hey buy my book”, “Hey have you bought the book yet?”, “Hey what do you think about my characters?”, and so on, making it feel like these authors are really desperate. I unsubscribed to all of them. There was nothing useful in them, and I want to know about the author! I honestly don’t give a crap about the work, I want to relate to the creator somehow. So maybe talk about what makes you YOU and try to write things that help your readers to relate to you? I dunno, that’s just what I try to do.


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