Thursday, October 6, 2022

Great Freebie Ideas to Add Value to Your Author Newsletter

by Lynn H. Blackburn @LynnHBlackburn

If you’re an author, aspiring or published, you know you need a professional website, a vibrant social media platform, and a newsletter.

You probably have a decent handle on the website and social media aspects. But your newsletter can be a daunting proposition, especially when you’re pre-published or very young in your writing career. 

How are you supposed to get strangers to sign up to receive an email from you? 

The standard advice is, first and foremost, to provide meaningful content that your readers will want access to. 

The next piece of advice is to offer something for free. This mysterious something must be interesting enough to inspire readers to sign up. 

No problem.

Yeah. Right. (Sorry, have I overdone the sarcasm here?) 

Ideally this unicorn newsletter freebie should showcase your writing style and it should be tied to the books you’re writing. For fiction authors, giving away a novella is frequently touted as a great idea.

And I’m not here to dispute that. It’s great advice. If you can do it, you should. 

But what on earth is the newbie writer supposed to do? What do you offer for free when you’ve written one book and you’re praying for a publisher? Do you carve out a portion of your precious writing time to write a novella that you’ll give away for free when you’re also being told that you need to be writing the next book in the series?

From personal experience, please allow me to empathize with you. The first time someone suggested I write a novella to give away to newsletter subscribers, I knew it wasn’t going to happen. My website was brand new. I had just published the first book in a three-book series, and I was in the middle of my first deadline induced panic attack.

I remember taking a few deep breaths and somewhat calmly telling this person that I didn’t have time to write a novella—for free or otherwise. So, we brainstormed and came up with something I did have time to do. It went with my series, and it would appeal to at least some of my readers. It was enough to tide me over until I had more to offer.

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to brainstorm with another writer about what they could use as a freebie (that wasn’t a novella), and today I’m going to share some of those ideas with you. 

Before we start, a few things to keep in mind:
  • 1. Whatever you offer, it needs to be done well. Don’t offer something that’s poorly edited!
  • 2. Your freebie should be exclusive to your newsletter subscribers. Don’t offer it elsewhere.
  • 3. Your freebie doesn’t have to be long, especially not in the beginning. Focus on quality and content, not length. 

10 Freebie Ideas for Your Author Newsletter:
  • 1. Does your book have a unique setting? Create a travel guide that highlights interesting facts and places of interest. Tie it to your story where possible. Consider having the guide written from the point of view of one or more of your characters. 
  • 2. Do your characters have a skill you can share with your readers? If they’re into photography, create a pdf with a list of photography tips. Does your heroine have a green thumb? Offer planting tips for their favorite flowers. Do they cook? Share their favorite recipes. 
  • 3. Share research that didn’t make it into the book. Did you learn interesting tidbits about language, cultural norms, clothing, or food in the 1800s? Do you now know more than you ever wanted to know about a historical event? Put together a fun infographic. 
  • 4. Does music play a role in your story? Create shareable playlists for your characters or create a “listen while you read” playlist that goes with each chapter or significant scene. 
  • 5. Do your characters have life verses or favorite passages of Scripture? Write up a few brief devotions that go with them, or design printables that your readers can download. 
  • 6. Give each of your characters a motto. These could be serious or humorous. You could use quotes about everything from coffee to stargazing to F1racing. Pick something they’re passionate about and have fun with it. Or design superlatives like “Character Most Likely to Lose their Keys” or “Character Most Likely to Fall Asleep Watching Hockey.” Then compile them into a freebie for your readers.
  • 7. Share background on your characters that didn’t make it into the book. This could be brief anecdotes from their childhood—the kind of stuff that gets told around the table at family gatherings. Or you could share their resume or CV, or “random fun facts” that you know about your hero/heroine, but you weren’t able to include in the story.
  • 8. Deleted scenes are always a fan favorite. Did you have to cut a scene for length or pacing reasons? Share it with your newsletter subscribers. They’ll love it!
  • 9. Share the details of things that were only alluded to in the story. Do you have secondary characters with an interesting backstory? Give them a short story of their own. Did your characters write each other letters? Share them. 
  • 10. Don’t feel like you can only offer one thing. Start small, then add a few more small things when you can. 

Continue to surprise and delight your subscribers and watch your newsletter list grow!

Grace and peace,


Lynn H. Blackburn loves writing romantic suspense because her childhood fantasy was to become a spy, but her grown-up reality is that she's a huge chicken and would have been caught on her first mission. She prefers to live vicariously through her characters and loves putting them into all kinds of terrifying situations while she's sitting at home safe and sound in her pajamas! 

Unknown Threat, the first book in her Defend and Protect series, was a 2021 Christy Award finalist and her previous titles have won the Carol Award, the Selah Award, and the Faith, Hope, and Love Reader’s Choice Award. Malicious Intent, the second book in the series, released March 2022.

She is a frequent conference speaker and has taught writers all over the country. Lynn lives in South Carolina with her true love and their three children. You can follow her real life happily ever after by signing up for her newsletter at LYNNHBLACKBURN.COM and @LynnHBlackburn on BOOKBUB, FACEBOOK, TWITTER, PINTEREST, and INSTAGRAM.


  1. Thank you for these creative ideas, Lyn.

  2. Lynn, these are very creative. Thank you! I'm printing this out and incorporating them!

  3. Thanks for these outstanding ideas, Lynn. I love the way you think out-of-the-box!