Email Newsletter Marketing Tips for Writers

As writers, we are always looking for ways to market our work. Our blogs and social media platforms call attention to our stories, poems, and essays. Blogs serve as great hubs for our work, and Facebook and Twitter are great for sharing links with enticing snippets, but what about email marketing? What better way to direct the audience you’ve built to your latest piece than a special delivery, right to their inbox?

Many of us find it difficult to do the marketing part of the job, even though we know it’s necessary. People often think of emails as an imposition, but remember people have signed up to receive your newsletter. They appreciate your work, they want to hear from you. It’s up to you to fulfill your promise, and design your newsletter in a way that makes them want to stay on your list. We checked with a few writers from our upcoming BinderCon LA session:  If You’re Going to Have a Newsletter, Make it a Good One.

Make it Personal

LizGalvao_HeadshotLiz Galvao says, “People will continue to subscribe if they feel a connection with you. Yes, email is where we get spam,…but it’s also where friends and family send us personal letters about what’s going on in their lives, and it can be an intimate format if you let it.

Don’t be afraid to let your subscribers into your life a little, and mention what’s going on with you that day, even if it seems mundane.”

She says she loves Marc Maron’s WTF podcast newsletter because there’s always a personal note to connect her to him as a person, and not just a podcast personality promoting something. She enjoys reading about his awkward trips to his parents’ house and random new food obsessions. “It’s kept me subscribing for years,” she says.


Sulagna-MisraGive a sense of your writing style, personality, and interests in your newsletter

Sulagna Misra says she uses a comfortable, direct style, similar to the way she engages friends who gchat her about pitching, in her email newsletter. “I don’t write Pitching Shark [her email newsletter] expecting people to go to my professional writing, but I do find they get to know of me as a writer because of it, and that might attract them to my other writing naturally.”


 It’s not just a marketing tool!

AnnFriedmanAnn Friedman, who’s email list is in the tens of thousands, warns, “An email is not a marketing tool, it’s a separate piece of work you’re creating. Treat it as such, and people will actually want to read it.”

Think of it as a new opportunity to draw someone in, and get them to read more of your work. Set the hook with personality and style, and make your readers happy they didn’t wait another second to open your email.

The three big take-aways from our panelists Liz, Sulanga, and Ann are:

Email newsletters can be an intimate format if you let it.

  1. Use your email newsletter to give a sense of your writing style, personality, and interests.
  2. Treat your email newsletter like writing not marketing.

For more promoting your writing with an email newsletter, check out Liz, Sulagna, and Ann’s session at BinderCon LA! Regular ticket sales close March 9th, so buy your ticket today.

Session Summary:

If You’re Going to Have a Newsletter, Make it a Good One

Everyone seems to agree that as a writer you need to promote yourself, and that you really should be doing that via a newsletter. But is that the right choice for every writer? What are the real-world results of launching a newsletter? How do you create one that subscribers (aside from your mom) will really want to read? And how do you get subscribers, anyway? What about using a newsletter as a platform for original content, not just as a marketing tool? We talk to writers and editors of popular newsletters to learn how they organize and schedule their content, build their subscriber base, and strategically promote their work.



Crowdfunding Tips for Your BinderCon Trip

Annamarya Scaccia, Ariel Shearer, Lindsay Tessier at BinderCon NYC 2015

BinderCon is a little over a month away and you’ve got a ticket, but you still need to raise money for your trip. Crowdfunding is a great way to get help from people in your network who believe in your work. Lindsay Tessier ran a successful crowdfunding campaign last year, so we asked her to share tips with the Binder Community.


Compelling Story

Potential funders are interested in the ‘why.’ They need a reason to care about your campaign. Spend some time thinking about why BinderCon is important to you and what you hope to gain by attending.

“If you show people why it matters to you, they’ll want to support you.”

Once you have your story, complete with the why, add visuals. Create a video, or add photos to your campaign page.


Realistic and specific

Set a realistic goal, and outline the use of funds. Funders want to know where their money is going. For BinderCon, you may want to list line items like transportation, accommodations, and food. Be sure to account for any costs associated with the campaign including crowdfunding platform charges.


Fun Rewards

Offering rewards is a great way to show gratitude to your backers, and make your crowdfunding campaign more fun. Rely more on your skills than on money. You can send a letter, poem, zine, or short story to backers at varying levels. You could even offer to name a character in your next novel after them. Get creative, and offer rewards you can reasonably deliver. Think about the time and effort your rewards require, and play to your strengths.

“I decided to offer personalized book recommendations because I read a lot, and people often ask me for suggestions.”


Social Media Boost

Share your crowdfunding campaign on your social media pages.

“Social media is your friend. The majority of my donations came from Facebook.”

Don’t be afraid to post reminders every few days, because everyone won’t see every post. Monitor the activity, and post where your audience is most responsive. Lindsay noticed that one social media platform yielded better results than another, so she put her time and effort into that one.

Remember that social media works hand-in-hand with in-person contact. Some people prefer to donate cash, so make sure you make that option available. Let people know you’re fundraising to give them the opportunity to donate offline.


Give Updates

Keep your backers in the loop. If you make changes to your rewards, let them know. Invite them to celebrate with you when you hit milestones. After your trip, let them know how it went. A blog post and photos can help them to feel like a part of your experience, and give you the perfect opportunity to thank them again.

For more ideas, check out Lindsay’s Indiegogo campaign. Good luck, and happy fundraising!


How to Build a Writing Community

We’ve heard it before: writing can be a lonely affair. Maybe you enjoy your days spent in front of a glaring screen with a mug of tea and a potted orchid as your only companions. Or maybe it’s time to step out of the office and be a part of (or create) a thriving writing community.

We’ve asked panelists from the How to Build a Writing Community panel (coming to BinderCon LA), to share some of their favorite tips.

Let’s start with just being there. Lauren Eggert-Crowe says, “Show up. If you want to build community, participate. The more you show up to support other people at their readings and events, the more people will come to your own readings. Say yes to as many invitations as you can. Be a regular face in the crowd. The more you do, the more people you will meet, and the deeper friendships you will build with the people in the community. That’s how collaborations arise.”


If you’re feeling more ambitious, Siel Ju has some great advice: “Start a Literary Journal, Zine, or Other Publication. Yes, there are already thousands of lit zines out there — but if you’ve taken a good, long look around and still see a niche you’d like to fill, why not go for it? I wanted a flash fiction zine that sent tiny stories via email for easy reading by smartphone — so I started Flash Flash Click. Turns out, a lot of other people wanted a flash-via-smartphone zine too and started to subscribe!

Being the editor of a publication gives you a readymade reason for reaching out to writers you know, like, read, or admire from afar — as well as a reason to read more widely and discover new writers you’d like to be part of your community. So check out what’s out there, find a niche, and get that journal going.”


Find Local Literary Resources & Then Leave Your House

Michelle Franke says, “Writers! Take a moment to figure out what literary offerings are available in the city you live in, and in the cities you’re traveling to. Google bookstores (especially indies!) in your area and visit them. All of them. Support them with your cash and pick up their events calendars. Many bookstores are hosting writers reading their books all week, score! These events are often free, double score!! Find a city-wide literary events or cultural calendar online. This calendar might include lectures, performances, or a reading series. Once you know where the writers and readers will be, leave your house. Go see them. Get excited about what other people are writing and reading. Find out if writing workshops are available in your area. Take a class! Some are more expensive than others, so find one that’s right for you. That might mean an online option if you’re in the boondocks. That’s okay. Invest in yourself and your community quest. When you meet other writers and readers, ask what reading series, literary journals, websites, and events they like! And, as your community circle widens, leave a little time to celebrate the success of others. Share a publication, a reading, basically any good news. Because you know very well how hard pursuing what you love can be. This kind of support will make your community strong.


Build Around Love

Invite writers and community members you admire, and encourage them to invite writers they love and admire. So many of us have strong relationships with other writers, collaborators, and readers, and it’s good to celebrate those relationships. For my reading series, HITCHED, I ask a writer whose work I enjoy to feature and then I ask that person to invite someone they work with or collaborate with to feature with them. More often than not, the reading ends up being a love-fest, filled with exciting work and new faces. I guess my tip is to build around love.” -Xochitl-Julisa Bermejo

To get more great tips, including Q & A, plan to attend BinderCon LA, March 19-20, 2016. Tickets are now available.

More info on the How to Build a Writing Community session at BinderCon LA:

how to build a communityHow to Build a Writing Community

(Siel Ju, Lauren Eggert-Crowe, Xochitl-Julisa Bermejo, Sunyoung Lee, Michelle Franke)

Writing may require a room of one’s own, but many writers also seek to be part of a community — for inspiration, encouragement, and advice, as well as professional networking. This panel aims to empower writers to participate in — and even create — their own literary communities. Featuring community organizers of different backgrounds, in different fields, and with different motivations, this discussion will show participants how to go from feeling like the literary life is a solitary endeavor to becoming an integral part in a dynamic, real-life community.

Participants will leave the talk with an arsenal of tools for practical community building. Topics discussed will include: starting (and growing!) a reading series; evaluating the pros and cons of launching (yet another!) literary journal, changing the race and gender imbalances in publishing through local action; working with local universities; crafting a community around a small press; tag-teaming with an existing literary nonprofit; and assessing the needs of the community where you live.

Buy your tickets now >>



How to Promote Your Writing — Tips from Writers (Part 2)

Last month I asked our community of writers for their best tips on how they promote their writing. We collected a cadre of tips and posted them here: “How to Promote Your Writing.” But the tips kept pouring in, so just in case you haven’t completely nailed down every possible way to promote your writing, here are even more tips:

Mutuality Mindset

Julie Schwietert Collazo says, “I don’t love promoting myself–it doesn’t come naturally to me–so I like to look for natural partners and mutually beneficial opportunities. Last year, I spoke on a panel at The New York Times Travel Show about travel in New York State. I was invited to do so by the state tourism board because of my guidebook about the state. This is one of many ways that writers can get away from the screen and promote their work AND connect with natural allies who can promote and support their work (and whose work you can promote and support). You don’t have to sit around and wait for these opportunities to fall in your lap, either; you can go out and pursue them. Within your niche or genre, who/what is your natural partner? How can you work together to reach mutual goals?”

 Throw a Party

Lillian Ann Slugocki says, “I launched my latest book with a reading/party with four other writers. It got a lot of PR, we got listed in Poets and Writers, profiled in Time Out New York. I kept a blog and a month before the reading, posted interviews w/ the writers. It was great fun and it really worked.”

Cecilia Hae-Jin Lee also does readings, signings and classes whenever her books come out, and adds, “The event is an excuse to send out press releases and announcements to local and national media to keep you and your work in the forefront long after it’s been published.” Cecilia ties in her events to the theme of her books including cooking classes for her cookbooks, and tastings and slideshows for her travel guides. She notes, “The more interactive the event, the better, I think.”

How can you make your book launch party or other event pop with a unique interactive component?

Enlist Friends & Get the Word Out

Laura Shin, a bit of a social maven, says, “When one of my ebooks came out, a friend suggested I ask family and friends to buy it around the same time to boost the ranking. I also participated in several Twitter chats and radio interviews to promote it and made sure to let all my sources know when it came out. Aside from the ebook, I try not to turn down any opportunities to speak at conferences or on webcasts or webinars as long as I feel qualified and have the time. I also share every story I write on all my social media platforms, including LinkedIn and Google Plus, and I tweet each story multiple times since I am sure not all my followers will catch my first tweet of a new story. And again, I share it with all sources since many of them will want to share the story with their network and audience as well.”

Don’t Write Books?

Melanie Padgett Powers says, “I don’t write books so I’m not out to promote my writing as much as my services as a writer and editor. I have found in-person networking invaluable. It really helps to meet people, and if they need your services plus they like you, they’ll be more likely to select you when looking for an editor/writer. People like to work with people they like. It’s human nature, so I work to build long-term, authentic relationships. No BS. I’m honest about what I can provide and how I think we can work together. Opposite of in-person, I find Twitter a valuable tool as well. It doesn’t work for everyone—I think you have to truly love Twitter and, thus, be willing to commit to it. I take part often in tweet chats, which allows me to network and show my expertise in certain areas. I also respond to tweets often. You can’t simply tweet about yourself all the time and not tweet to people. Twitter needs to be a conversation tool for it to be effective.”

Still More Tips & Resources:

Speaking of networking and finding natural allies, Join Us in L.A. on March 19 & 20, 2016 for BinderCon LA, or connect with us on Facebook or Twitter.

Sign Up for our email list for more great info & resources.

Get your Early Bird Tickets to BinderCon LA, there are only a few left!

Are you new to BinderCon? Check out our video booth from last year’s BinderCon LA:

BinderCon 2015 Video Booth from Out of the Binders on Vimeo.

Hope see you this March, in LA!



LA BinderCon Panel: Writing Without Pity: Disability, Illness and Our Bodies

Wondering what programming we have in store for you at LA BinderCon? We’ll be announcing all week – stay tuned for more (and be sure to buy your tickets while Early Bird level is still available!).

Writing Without Pity: Disability, Illness and Our Bodies
(Karolyn Gehrig, Eileen Cronin, Santina Muha, Lara Ameen, Sara Benincasa)

From misguided media mentions to flattened metaphor, disability and illness are often used to position narratives rather than represent reality. This panel will discuss the coverage and placement of disability in journalism, how to write personal narratives without pity, and the linguistic tropes we associate with disability, which no longer serve our lives.


LA BinderCon Panel: Writing for the Masses: Feminists of Color infiltrate Romance and Women’s Fiction

Wondering what programming we have in store for you at LA BinderCon? We’ll be announcing all week – stay tuned for more (and be sure to buy your tickets while Early Bird level is still available!).

Writing for the Masses: Feminists of Color infiltrate Romance and Women’s Fiction
(Aya de Leon, S. Evan Stubblefield, Sofia Quintero)

The annual VIDA count documents how women are second-class literary citizens. Nicola Griffith’s recent study shows that women’s rare wins of big awards are generally for books about male characters. But as women writers fight for change, how are we routinely preoccupied with breaking into the boys’ club? Are we dismissive of social change potential in the areas of the publishing industry that, although generally dismissed by industry elites, are thoroughly dominated by women.

In the ongoing literary/commercial fiction debate, genres such as romance and urban women’s fiction are frequently snubbed as being uniformly lowbrow and without literary merit. Literary fiction is often dismissed as having a narrow and elite audience, and no deep cultural relevance or resonance. How are women of color breaking this binary by intentionally engaging these genres as a form of literary activism? How can this mirror recent changes in television that have the potential to change the national conversation and inject the commercial literary landscape with subversive ideas and stories? How do queer love stories inherently disrupt the status quo?

Traditional feminist analysis has critiqued romance and women’s fiction based on many concerns: chronic preoccupation with men; narrow standards of beauty; tropes of female helplessness, incompetence, and sexual passivity; and the romanticization of male aggression and violence. Feminists of color and intersectional analyses have also critiqued its widespread Eurocentrism and preoccupation with the owning class and materialism. Given these critique histories, how do these women writers of color seek to revitalize and flip romantic and sentimental tropes by injecting them with feminist and activist themes? How do they engage issues of race, class, sexuality, gender, disability, and nationality for a mass audience? And for the long term, how do these writers hope to develop new hybrid genres that have a recognizable, intersectional feminist aesthetic?


LA BinderCon Workshop: Get the Yes: Crafting Your Best Application for Residencies, Fellowships, Grants, and Workshops

Wondering what programming we have in store for you at LA BinderCon? We’ll be announcing all week – stay tuned for more (and be sure to buy your tickets while Early Bird level is still available!).

Get the Yes: Crafting Your Best Application for Residencies, Fellowships, Grants, and Workshops
(Glendaliz Camacho, Grace Jahng Lee)

Whether you’re applying for a writing residency, fellowship, grant, scholarship, or workshop, the process can be anxiety-provoking. How do you even find out about these opportunities? How do you decide which to apply to? What does an artist statement include? Who will write your recommendation letters if you lack literary networks? What do you include in a writer’s CV if you have no/few publications? How do you select your best writing sample? What are strategies for dealing with multiple rejections? For residencies, additional nail-biting may emerge: How do you take time off from work and family obligations to disappear into the woods to write for weeks? How will you finance your residency if you still have rent/bills to pay while away?

As women without MFAs who didn’t pursue writing until their 30s, the workshop leaders found themselves together on a residency on a cattle ranch in Wyoming. With experience as both applicants (awarded 15 residencies within two years and numerous grants, fellowships, scholarships) and selection committee members, they will share strategies to help participants to craft their best application package. They will provide an overview of funded opportunities for writers and lead an interactive workshop with exercises targeting the basic elements of every proposal. Participants are encouraged to bring a copy of a past application or one in-progress. A resource handout will be distributed.


LA BinderCon Panel: Tense & Sensibility: Ways to Tackle Tragedy in Young Adult

Wondering what programming we have in store for you at LA BinderCon? We’ll be announcing all week – stay tuned for more (and be sure to buy your tickets while Early Bird level is still available!).

Tense & Sensibility: Ways to Tackle Tragedy in Young Adult
(Brandy Colbert, Isabel Quintero, Lissa Price, Lilliam Rivera, Elizabeth Ross)

Whether you are writing a light-hearted novel, an action-packed fantasy, or a story in a contemporary setting, tackling tense emotional scenes can be tricky in young adult literature. Sometimes writers quickly fall prey to clichés, shying away from exposing real hurt for fear of alienating readers. But young adult readers can smell a fake. How can writers approach tense scenes without losing the young adult voice? Five award-winning young adult authors share how they navigate tragedy through the use of humor, action, even poetry. They will share tips on finding the right balance in your own writing while keeping the authentic young adult voice while offering examples of novels that exemplify the work.


LA BinderCon Panel: Digital Engagement Across Language Barriers

Wondering what programming we have in store for you at LA BinderCon? We’ll be announcing all week – stay tuned for more (and be sure to buy your tickets while Early Bird level is still available!).

Digital Engagement Across Language Barriers
(An Xiao Mina, P. Kim Bui, Daniela Gerson, Tanzila “Taz” Ahmed)

How do you reach an online audience that speaks another language? How do you engage with them and learn from them? How do you report on real-time news in other languages? This panel will look at different approaches to using social media across linguistic divides and will provide practical techniques to implementing them.

In a Los Angeles suburb with a majority Asian population, the police chief learned how to use Weibo (a Twitter-like Chinese social media platform) and transformed his relationship to his immigrant constituents. Last year Reported.ly launched an international newsroom across continents that facilitates conversation and uses social media for real-time reporting across languages. And this year, Meedan, a team building digital tools for global journalism and translation, is launching Bridge, an app to facilitate these connections for journalists, researchers and their communities in real time. They draw from their team’s collective experience translating social media from movements in Egypt and China.

This panel will look at their experiences of connecting people across linguistic divides via social media on local and international levels. It will also look at what producers can do to extend their reach, with emerging software, social media platforms, and growth opportunities.


How to Promote Your Writing — Tips from Writers

I recently asked our community of women and gender non-conforming writers to give us some of their best tips for self-promotion.

Here are some of our favorites:

Go Old School

“Believe it or not, post cards with the book cover on front and brief description along with buy info on the back, have been one of my most useful marketing tools. I keep several in my purse, and when people learn I’m a writer, they are the perfect way to tell them more about my book. Many times, people ask for extra cards so they can share them with friends.” -Jeanne Gassman

Become a Social Star (but not “That Writer”)

“Build a large Twitter presence. Tag editors you would like to see your work when you publish.” -Estelle Sobel Erasmus

And just how would you build that presence? Rebecca VanKoot had some suggestions:  “Genuine engagement. Follow people who you read or admire, or whose work is read by the audience you are hoping to reach. Get involved in conversations with them or their followers. Participate in Twitter chat events and conversations around trending hashtags, if they are actually interesting and you have something real to say. When you share links to stuff you love, tag both the author and the publication.”

Rachel Charlene adds, “Avoid being “that writer” who’s always going on and on about their book on social media. It’s annoying, and you just end up clogging people’s feeds with the same thing over and over again. Also – be careful about creating graphics and promo materials on your own. Props to every writer who chooses to take on social media, but be sure you have the skill-level necessary – no one wants to be the writer who has no idea what they’re doing, posts *only* about their book, and shares hideous graphics. Don’t be afraid to reach out to other writers (and graphic designers) for help and feedback!”

Advertise on Facebook

Lauren Hudgins says that Facebook ads are less expensive than you’d think. “You can target people based on their age, gender, location, and interests. Consider posting one of your articles or book listing to your Page and putting a little money behind it. You can run an ad for as little as you like. Try just putting in $5,” she says.

Connect with Other Writers & Practice Pitching

I think interacting with other writers is important. I often share (and tag) essays and stories, contest winners and books that I’m excited about. Cheering for one another is a good way to participate in a community while also getting your name out there.” -Courtney Gillette

Jennifer Baker agrees, and adds:  “Definitely do the pitch sessions and practice. Making those connections where editors and agents see your personality can be helpful to getting your work read and considered more thoughtfully. And second connecting with other writers because you can pump each other up! I’ve maintained contact with several binders I met this year and who have been super generous. Be considerate and polite!”

Still More Tips & Resources:

Watch the “How to Win Friends and Influence Editors/Agents: Networking Like a Binder” video from BinderCon NY.

Check out this listing of resources on building a platform.

Join Us in L.A. on March 19 & 20, 2016 for BinderCon LA, or connect with us on Facebook or Twitter.

Drum up some good karma by donating to the BinderCon Year-End Fund Drive.

Sign Up for our email list for more great info & resources.

We hope these tips help get your creative self-promotion ideas rolling.