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Owning your readership: Why you need a website and a newsletter
San Francisco Writers Conference San Francisco Writers Conference
For Immediate Release:
Dateline: San Francisco, CA
Wednesday, August 25, 2021


I have talked in previous blog posts about the importance of owning your readership. One of the most important things that you can do when starting out in your author career is to have a place that you own where your readers can find you.

The best place for this? An author website and a newsletter.

Why are these things so important? Won’t readers just go right to Amazon to buy my books? Can’t I just reach people through my Facebook and Bookbub?

Yes, more than likely when a reader first wants to find your books, they will search you out Amazon, Apple books, etc. And sure, you can cultivate a following on Facebook, Bookbub, Goodreads, even followers on Amazon. You blast out information through these channels. But, on those websites you don’t actually own the contact information. Amazon is not going to tell you how many people follow you, let alone share their contact information.

With Facebook and other social media platforms, you are at the mercy of the algorithms. If something changes or if that platform suddenly closes, you lose your contact with your readers.

It’s true that readers may not seek out your website these days as often as they might have in the past. But it’s still important to have an anchor point where somebody can find you online at any given time, no matter what is going on with Facebook or Amazon. They need a place where they can always find your contact information, information about your books, and learn a little bit more about you as an author. It serves as a place to collect newsletter sign ups, announce events, even sell your books directly. All within your control.

When you have your own website with a paid domain, you own this real estate. No platform can take it away from you. If Amazon completely crashed tomorrow, your readers could still find information about your books.

Not to mention it makes you look PROFESSIONAL. And let me tell you something. Professionalism matters, no matter which industry you’re in.

What does a good website look like? Opinions may vary on this, but I personally don’t think you need to overthink it. At the very minimum, your readers should be able to find information about your books, a brief bio about you, a way to contact you, and a way to sign up for your newsletter. From there, get as fancy as you like, but don’t worry too much about having the most advanced graphics in the business. It’s more important that it’s clean, clear on the genre you write in and easy to navigate.

While you can get a free site, I highly recommend buying your domain, an email address, and a design template (if you’re not ready to pay a designer). WordPress and Squarespace are two great options. All in with hosting and security, you will probably pay $200 a year.

My website—amandajclay.com—is most definitely not the most high-tech site in the business, but it tells my readers what they need to know. Maybe once Hollywood comes knocking with that multi-million-dollar deal, I’ll hire a top-notch designer. But until then… it works.

Secondly, you need a newsletter. I have mentioned it in past posts, but I can’t stress it enough—building your newsletter is one of the most important things you can do as an author, whether you are pursuing self-publishing or a traditional publishing deal. Having that direct line of communication with your readers is gold.

Now, once you build that newsletter, you need to treat your subscribers like the VIPs they are. Never spam, never, NEVER sell or trade those email addresses with anyone else without your readers explicit permission. And make sure that the information you’re sending your readers is valuable. What’s valuable may be a judgment call. It could be that your readers are excited to hear about your cat’s shenanigans. Or your world travels or recipes. Or, it could be that they only want to hear about new releases.

Make sure that you’re clear when your reader sign up what kind of information you’re going to share with them. And make sure to deliver on that promise. Occasionally check in with your readers. See if what you’re sending is still valuable. See if their interests have changed. You can usually tell if your engagement or open rates start to really drop off whether or not you’re sending your readers information that they still want to read.

I highly recommend Newsletter Ninja for amazing easy and applicable information for getting your newsletter going.

Just remember that while reaching your readers through Amazon and social media is great, you don’t own that information.

As always, if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out!

Happy writing!

Amanda J. Clay

Amanda J. Clay writes gripping mysteries and thrillers with complex, kick butt female leads designed to keep you up all night. When in the mood, she also crafts the occasional messy love story (Because, hey, the world is a complicated place). A Northern California native, she currently lives in Nashville, TN with her dashing,real-life hero of a husband who inspires her heroes and villains alike. During the pandemic they welcomed their first daughter who is doing her best to keep them on their toes.

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The San Francisco Writers Conference and the San Francisco Writing for Change conference are both produced by the San Francisco Writers Conference & San Francisco Writers Foundation, a 501(c)3 nonprofit. The SFWC Director is Laurie McLean.  For registration help, contact Richard Santos at registrations@sfwriters.org. For SFWC sponsorship opportunities, contact Carla King at Carla@carlaking.com
The SFWC website is: www.SFWriters.org

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Name: Elisabeth Kauffman
Title: Director of Marketing
Group: San Francisco Writers Conference
Dateline: Oakley, CA United States
Direct Phone: 13103676215
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