How Not to Design an Email Newsletter

I receive many email newsletters and would like to read them, but usually I don’t. The reason is they aren’t user-friendly. Here’s how they frustrate me.

  • How Not to Design an Email NewsletterThe email contains the headline (which is generally interesting) and a couple of teaser lines. I need to click on “more.”
  • I’m then taken to a webpage. I see the headline again and a few additional lines of text, but it’s still not enough to satisfy my curiosity. So I need to click on “read more.”
  • Now I’m taken to a second page for this specific item.
  • About half the time, a pop-up covers what I’m trying to read. I’m not interested in an ad, and I don’t want to sign-up for anything or login. Sometimes it’s challenging to figure out how to even close the pop-up.
  • By now I’ve lost interest and am frustrated. I close the webpages and delete the email. If I’m really irritated, I’ll also unsubscribe – and if I didn’t sign up for it, I mark it as spam.

But there are newsletters I will read – assuming they have relevant information that interests me.

Good email newsletters are self-contained within the email. This might mean they can be read straight through or that the headlines are at the beginning of the email with the linked text further down the page.

This means no clicking – or only one click. I don’t have to leave my email program, and I’m not subjected to popups. Then I will take time to read it. And if we are cultivating an audience and building a platform for our books, isn’t that the goal?

What irritates you about email newsletters? What should you change in your newsletter? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.

Peter DeHaan Opens His Writing Newsletter to the Public

Veteran Magazine Publisher, Editor, Author, and Blogger Shares about Writing in Weekly Newsletter

June 9, 2015GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.Since last year Peter DeHaan has shared about writing in his free monthly newsletter, “Write On!” He now opens up the subscription to anyone interested in writing, from the beginner to experienced professional.

“I started my newsletter, ‘Write On!’ to keep in contact with people who attended the sessions I led at writing conferences over the past several years,” said Peter, who is a magazine publisher and editor, in addition to being a writer with over three decades of experience. “I sold my first article in 1982, and the world of publishing has changed a lot since then. I want to share my experiences and encourage others in becoming better writers.”

Each issue of “Write On!” includes an article about writing, a resource of the month, links to writing and book publishing blog posts, an inspiring quote, and a popular Q&A section where Peter answers writers’ questions.

Plus, each new subscriber will receive Peter’s valuable resource, “How to Format Your Submission,” at no cost. This is an essential guide for writers who want to present their work to editors and publishers in a standard, professional format. “Once we have produced our best work,” says Peter, “we need to present it properly so that it stands the best chance of being read and accepted. Editors and publishers are pushed for time and a well-presented submission will get their attention and increase our chances for success.”

Sign up for Peter DeHaan’s writing newsletter “Write On!” today; the next issue comes out on Thursday. You may unsubscribe at any time, but we don’t think you’ll want to!

For more information, go to Peter DeHaan’s website:

Capture Email Addresses

A key to using your website as a book-selling, platform-building tool is to capture email addresses. You will use these email addresses to regularly communicate with your followers, such as through a monthly newsletter. Keep them up-to-date on your writing and share interesting or helpful content. Then, when your book is ready, let them know. They will be more likely to read your email because you have been in regular contact with them.

Offer Them Something: You can just ask for email addresses, but most people won’t share this information without receiving something in return, such as a free e-book or a subscription to your newsletter.

Provide Assurance: For those who may waiver, assure them you won’t misuse their email address. Let them know you will not share it in any way with anyone else, that you will not spam them with irrelevant content, and that they can unsubscribe at any time.

Follow Through: Provide what you promised (a free book or newsletter), when you promised (either right away or each month), and do what you promised (don’t share their email address or spam them; honor unsubscribes).

Logistics: When they give you their email address, have them sign up directly through your email platform. (I use MailChimp.) It will automatically handle the verification (that is, the double opt-in procedure), handle unsubscribes, and maintain the database. Use the final step in the sign-up process to provide a link to your e-book or incentive.

Example: You may have noticed, that I’m not following my own advice on this site, but I am doing it on my main website and blog. So check that out as an example – and feel free to sign-up for my newsletter and get my free e-book!

Six Flavors of Book Publishing

In last week’s post, I talked about traditional publishing and vanity publishing (once the only two options), with hybrid publishing now filling the space between. Hybrid publishing is a combination of the two, with varying options.

Although hybrid publishing is a common term for this ever-evolving assortment of book publishing options, it’s also a descriptive name, with some book publishers opting for other labels.

One reader mentioned entrepreneurial publishing. I like that. It reminds us that publishing a book is a business and the author needs to take part in the process in order to be successful.

Indie publishing (short for independent publishing) or indie press can take on a wide array of meanings, from a traditional publisher that is small and therefore independent, to a niche publisher, to self-publishing.

Custom publishing is a broader term that in addition to books can alternately cover magazines, newsletters, brochures, or whatever else can be imagined.

However, regardless of the label, the main thing is to analyze what they do and don’t do, determine how money flows between publisher and author (and in which direction), and realize this is a business, for both publisher and author. Then, after finding the one that’s the best fit, carefully read the contract, and hire an attorney who is familiar with publishing agreements.

Happy publishing!

What other labels have you heard of for book publishing?