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Newsletter Survey Results

Last month, I ran a survey about newsletters. I want to be a bit better about using my mailing list and figured there was little point in sending them out if I wasn’t providing the kind of content that people wanted to see.

I kept it simple using only five questions and incentivized it with a $/£10 gift card giveaway. Hopefully, you will find the results as interesting as I did.

I’ll put a tl:dr version of the results at the bottom of the page if you just want a summary of the findings.


The survey collected 266 responses. 1 directly from my website, 18 from Social Media and 247 from my mailing list.

My mailing list is primarily made up of subscribers from Instafreebie giveaways. The initial email letting people know about the survey went out to 1804 people. It had an open rate of 40% (710) and 78% click through to the survey.

I think it’s worth noting that with any sample, you’re getting the opinions of people who like answering surveys, which might not necessarily be representative of the whole group.

Of the 266 participants, 34 chose not to enter the giveaway.


In this survey I wanted to know about frequency, content, and length of newsletters and also about how to ensure readers opened the email once they got it.
The order in which the options for each question were shown changed for each participant.

Question 1 – Frequency.

Participants could only choose one option.

Rounded out, the results were…

Once a month – 34%
Twice a month – 23%
Once a week – 21%
When the mood takes me – 11%
Once every few months – 4%

Of the 19 comments left for Other, 8 suggested that once a month plus emails about specific news (“special occasions”, “new releases”, “major news”, “time sensitive content” would be welcome, and 7 asked for emails when there is specific news.

Comments of note

“No need to send a newsletter just to send a newsletter.”

“The amount of newsletters from instafreebie is overwhelming, and throwing one out every week just because, is annoying for the recipients “

“Personally, weekly newsletters make me want to unsubscribe.”

Question 2 – Content

Participants could choose multiple answers.

Rounded out, the results were…

New releases – 91%
Free/exclusive stories – 83%
Giveaways/free stuff – 83%
Cover reveals – 68%
Book recommendations/My reading list – 62%
Excerpts – 53%
Q&A’s/readers questions – 46%
Progress reports – 41%
News about in person events – 33%
Re-caps of available books – 25%
Guest author content/promo – 24%
Website updates going live – 19%
Vlog/blogs – 12%
Blog/reader reviews of available books – 12%

Suggestions in the comments included –

Snippets of new characters or plot bunnies
ARC opportunities
Pictures that matched the content.
Character interviews
Free reads by other authors that we recommend.
News about audio books
Anecdotes about books
Reading list

Of the 27 comments, 8 mentioned wanting personal information about the author (“favorite foods to non-genre authors/books/ movies”, “Favorite recipes”, “news about your life and other activities and interests”, “Pets or muse info”) and 5 asked for no/not too much information about other authors.

Comments of note

“I personally like the newsletters to be mostly about the author. I get way to many newsletters that promote other authors and I end up deleting those authors even though I do like them. I get a couple hundred newsletters a day (yes I go through them all). So, when 10 authors have identical newsletters to promote a “friends” new book I get annoyed. I don’t mind you suggesting/recommending actual books you have read, but I want to get your newsletter because I like YOU.”

“Most of the time when I read a newsletter from an author I follow I’ve already seen all or most of the information that is shared in the newsletter. I like to see new stuff that makes me want to look forward to the newsletter.”

“I like rec… when they are not recommending 10 books, mostly recent releases. Because I wouldn’t believe they are real recs (something the author read) and more like the author is sending me a list of releases that I should buy (I’m already subscribed that type of newsletter).”

Question 3 – Length

Participants could choose one answer.

Rounded out, the results were…
A digest of lots of things but less often? – 77%
Single topic emails more frequently??- 23%

Of the 25 comments, 13 comments expressed an interesting in receiving a mixture of the two options, 5 asked for not too much information in each newsletter and 5 asked that however much information was in the email that it should be relevant to the author.

Comments of note

“Not a lot of text so it’s quick to read and extract the info. If it’s too much I scroll over and usually delete. Make it visual and compact.”

“I would like to to write when you have news, not all the time because you feel you should”

“I like the idea of a monthly newsletter but not one soooo long that I don’t want to sit and read it. I’ve unsubscribed from a couple which go on way too long. Thing is I don’t like reading a book from the laptop which is where I look at my newsletters.”

Question 4 – Opening up.

When you see a newsletter in your inbox, what makes you open it as opposed to simply deleting it?

This was a comment only option. I went through the answers and looked for common responses.

In descending order of frequency [mentions] –

Author [84]
Subject line/title of email [69]
I always read emails [49]
Free/giveaway/discount/sale [37]
New book release [33]
Book news [22]
Interest/curiosity [15]
Coming soon [13]
Quality/relevant content [13]
Cover reveals [10]
Content of previous newsletters [9]
Getting a personal connection to the author [4]
Photos [4]

Depends on how they’re feeling, Depends on how much time they have, New content, Exclusive content, and Genre had three mentions each.

ARC opportunities, Series updates and Not selling had two mentions each.

Hasn’t seen any news in a while, Guest post topics, Question in the subject line, and Cross promotion with other authors had one mention each.

Generally, it seemed like people felt that they would open an email based on the author’s name because they had chosen to subscribe to it, they wanted news about that author’s books, and they knew the kind of content they were getting would be relevant. Having “free” or similar in the subject line helped but some readers seemed to feel a bit bad about opening a email solely for the free stuff.

Comments of note

“Subject line that says something like coming soon/new release the ones that are newsletter look like spam.”

“when it says Free in the headlines I usually open first. Though if it says Free, but after I open its Free on KU I get upset. That’s false advertisement and I feel like the author is tricking me just to open.”?

“I open most of my newsletters unless I am really behind and then it will depend on the who the newsletter is from and what the subject is. If it helps, AFTER I open a newsletter what will get me to read it all the way through often depends on the format and content. A wall of plain text turns me off, but I’ve also had newsletters that had so much going on that I could stand to look at then, too many colors, different fonts, three different columns of stuff (this was all in one newsletter). As for content, if I open a newsletter and I have to skip past twenty [personal] pics to get to the news then I just keep going to the unsubscribe button. I don’t mind authors sharing pics of their kids or pets or anything else, but I signed up for book news.”?

“A friendly ‘voice’, information I can’t get anywhere else, a feeling of being acquainted with the author so that I want to know what’s going on with them, but also some real content-release dates, upcoming titles, and a little cross-promotion of other authors the writer enjoys is helpful.”

“If the title is interesting, but NOT covered in weird emojis”

“Seeing a new release or special author news. Sales, freebies and giveaways also do the trick. Sometimes I also like hearing about a special book pick that has given the author a book hangover and they have to rave about it”

“I hate opening newsletter with black or dark colored backgrounds and white type – it hurts my eyes”

“It needs a catchy (click bait) title – but deliver on the title when I read the newsletter”

“Usually when the author catches my attention…so, instead of something like “Newsletter #34” or something, maybe a hint at the contents of that particular newsletter/e-mail”

“Depends on from whom the newsletter is – Authors I open etc selling me stuff I don’t”

“Don’t send a newsletter out just for the sake of sending it. Have something to say, whether it’s a rant on how your characters are behaving, something else that’s on your mind, a release or giveaway (with your book in it). If it’s just going to have recommendations, I’ll likely just delete it, especially if you don’t take the time to provide a brief review so I know you read it first and liked it.”

Question 5

Anything else you’d like to add…

This was a comment only option. I went through the answers and looked for common responses.

Of the 176 responses to this question, 58 were relevant. (The rest were no/nope/n/a or just readers being super lovely and saying nice stuff to me. My heart grew three sizes. It was really nice and I really appreciated it : )

Of those 58 responses –
13 talked about frequency (“less is more”, “I would rather wait 2 months”, “too many is overwhelming”)
9 about personal content (“Be real and honest”, “Tell me what’s going on in your life”, “A playlist of what you listen to”, “your not a robot”),
7 about relevant content, (“Keep it simple”, “BOOKS are what a reader wants”, “Unique content would be good”)
5 about length (“short n sweet”, “short and relevant”, “…LONG. Don’t do that.”),,
and 4 about formatting and design.

“Newsletters that are formatted well are more likely to be read. For example, if the newsletter is sectioned off into separate areas by topic (as opposed to a long paragraph of info) or bulleted, etc. It makes it easier to skim to the important and interesting parts (and I’m more likely to read it).”?

“Don’t stuff random stuff into a newsletter just because it’s the second Tuesday of the month or whatever. I’d rather not get one than get one full of blathery crap just to hit a deadline. It’s like with blogging; I don’t want to have to skim through a post about someone’s goldfish just because it’s Friday. If you have news, put out a newsletter. If you don’t, skip it.”

“Love authors and I want them to succeed but an email every week that is the same stuff just makes me unsubscribe.”

“If you have a fun newletter that makes a person feel like your talking to them and your not a robot talking to anyone who is listening, you’ll keep people around. I get newsletter from authors I haven’t read yet (I got from instafreebie or something like that), but because I absolutely love their newsletters I keep getting them.”

“Try to make it personal so that we can connect with you and see you as a person and not just a name on the cover, but also interesting to read (after all, we signed up because we like your books)”

“We as reads love to hear from our favorite authors, that’s why we subscribe but personal rants, I myself don’t want to read. Some content is useful, informative but what we want are your BOOKS. Personal tidbits are great but BOOKS are what a reader wants.”

“Gives for swag and books are nice. Be real and honest. Don’t make people sign up for some author they don’t know just to enter giveaway.”

“I really appreciate if there’s something I can click to enable reading the email in a separate web browser window while I’m on my tablet device (if I can’t read the email easily in the half-screen, then I don’t get very far in looking at it, and then I’m apt to forget to go back to look when I’m on my laptop, where I can view it in its entirety otherwise).”

“Tablet friendly graphics”

“Forgot to say I appreciate the info about Payhip in your Newsletters”


It seems to me that readers want the same thing in the content a newsletter that they want from a book. They want relevance and honesty. They don’t want filler, just the author’s words. Make it readable and don’t be overwhelming, and it should all be okay.

If anyone has anything to add, please leave a comment/feel free to discuss in the comments.

If this information has been helpful to you, please consider leaving a contribution in the tip jar below. I had a much bigger response than I was expecting and had to pay to download the results of the survey. Or you could buy a book or something. That would be cool.

Thank you to everyone who contributed to this survey. I hope it was fun and that the results were interesting.

Thought I’d leave the last word to these two <3

“I know it’s tough for authors out there. I don’t know how you do it, but just keep doing what you love.”

“I appreciate the time and effort it takes to do a newsletter so thank you.”

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  1. […] Newsletter Survey Results by Alex Jane. MM paranormal author Alex Jane shares detailed results of a survey she conducted with her newsletter readers. Check them out for ideas on improving how you communicate with readers. […]

  2. Very interesting! Thanks for sharing! <3

  3. Thank you! This is really interesting.

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