A couple of days ago, Bryon Quertermous posed a great question on Twitter:

Readers: Yay or nay on author newsletters? I’ve never liked them and think social media and my own website do a good job. Am I missing out?

I think authors should do newsletters…with some caveats.

Newsletters should tell readers a story and provide useful information. If their sole purpose is to sell stuff, there’s no point. But not all your readers will see every social media post, so providing links and recaps of anything important in a newsletter makes sense.

I like author newsletters that include snippets that are useful, fun, funny, or seasonal. Talk about your books, yes, but don’t only talk about your books.

Newsletters should be short and readable. They should have your voice. They should have links. Think of them as an email…you’re writing an email to a friend. You’re not making a presentation to The Board.

The content that you write for your newsletter shouldn’t be confined to it. Once you send it out, it should be cross-posted on your website, Facebook page, Pinterest board…you get the idea.

Being readable means newsletters should be easy to read on mobile devices. That means complicated HTML layouts are out. One of my favorite authors sends his monthly newsletter through Constant Contact using a custom HTML layout that makes it damn near impossible to read on anything other than a computer. It makes me sad every single month because I want to read his newsletter, but I read a lot of email on my phone or iPad (as do many of your readers…trust me).

And if you’re going to go to the trouble of doing a newsletter, make it easy for people to share it—on social media and by forwarding it.

Of course you should never, ever sign people up for your newsletter without their permission. That said, I’m not a fan of the double opt-in. I sign up because I mean to; I shouldn’t have to reconfirm my intention by clicking a link and then get yet another email confirming that I clicked the link. That process is just annoying (to me…might be just me, though). Also, if your unsubscribe process takes more than one click, you need to fix that.

Marketeers used to spend a great deal of energy figuring out exactly when to send newsletters to get the best response to them. There used to be rules for this based on their figuring, but I think those are all gone out the window. Generally speaking, I like to send them mid-day, because there’s more of a chance you’ll catch people when a little diversion is welcome. Fridays used to be taboo, but no longer. Same with weekends. The only time I still try to avoid is the middle of the night.

If you have a big mailing list that you’ve been growing for a while, it’s a good idea to clean it occasionally so you’re not paying to send email to addresses that are long since abandoned. I use DataValidation.com for this.

So…what do you think? Author newsletters, yea or nay?