Creators Should Study This Author’s Email Newsletter


It’s humorously long — and it reveals a successful business model


As a longtime book publisher, I’m an obsessed fan of best-selling author William Hazelgrove’s ridiculously long email newsletter. I haven’t read a single one of his 17 books, but I regularly pore over his emails and have directed several friends and clients to his newsletter for inspiration and tough-love perspective. My industry knowledge plus years of experience helping authors promote their books and build cottage industries around them give me an insight into how this prolific author and promoter succeeds as a full-time author. And anyone working on making a full-time living as a creator should study the model revealed by his newsletter for its business savvy. Copying its length is optional.

So, what do Hazelgrove’s fans discover in his emails…and what can you learn from those things?

Latest releases

Here’s what I pick up from the newsletter’s real estate devoted to his latest book:

  • Always have a current book or something new to promote. Depending on your product or service, this means something launched in the last 3–12 months.

  • A fabulous cover matters. Pay attention to the format, design, and aesthetics of your offerings.

  • A just-right title captures attention. Spend time thoughtfully naming your creations.

  • Entice fans with a taste of the best you have; don’t “save” it for those who buy. Hazelgrove shares introductions, chapters, and all manner of juicy content.

  • Print, audiobook, and ebook versions are available. Present your content in formats for different audiences.

Coming books

What to gather from each newsletter’s highlighting of books coming down the pike:

  • Always be developing and working on new things—even as you work on promoting existing products and services with equal vigor.

  • Commit to and release your offerings on a steady schedule.

  • Build anticipation for your creations, promoting them early and often, well before their release date.

  • Create shareable videos, such as book trailers, for promotional purposes.

  • Offer an advanced order option, perhaps with a perk like autographed copies or free shipping.

Media coverage What links to his media coverage tell me:

  • Pursue traditional media as much as social media.

  • All media coverage—big and small, broad and narrow—counts and adds up. Even big-time creators do “small” media.

  • Seek out media in all formats—print, digital, video (TV, YouTube), audio (podcasts, radio).

  • Use as many social media platforms as you can comfortably maintain.

  • Promote your offerings, but also promote your processes and quirky aspects of your content and work.

Events and speaking engagements Hazelgrove’s latest e-newsletter listed 26 upcoming events, some 10 months out, and 7 for next month alone, indicating:

  • Events matter. Set up as many as possible. (Read my primers on speaking engagements, author events, and maxing out your books’ themes.)

  • Line up events well in advance and begin promoting immediately. Consider the commitment this requires.

  • Outreach through public engagements is a staple of his model.

  • Libraries, bookstores, book clubs, festivals, public events, private clubs, organizations, and associations all have a need for regular programming.

  • Regardless of the scope and geography of your audience, work the local angle hard. (Read more about why to engage all things local in your promotional efforts and how to make money from local topics.)

  • Don’t just promote your scheduled events to potential audiences, promote your events to booking agents and program coordinators.

  • Have multiple programs for events planners to select from. Promote and have the ability to customize stock programs for various audiences.

  • Offer programs on your how-to, your processes, and not just on your topics of expertise.

  • Develop virtual programs.

  • I emailed William Hazelgrove with a link to this article and he reminded me of an important point about events: “[I]t’s worth mentioning the ricochet effect of a newsletter and doing many events. I had a gentleman who was from NY come to one of my speeches in New Buffalo, MI, and he happened to be a major producer of movies and series. We have since signed a deal on Al Capone and the 1933 Worlds Fair. So you never know what will hit.”

Content details Lessons I take from the content:

  • Go beyond thorough—include everything.

  • Put the most important stuff up front. Fans will skim or read as much or as little as they want.

  • Rotate the order in which you present newsletter content to emphasize one thing over another. e.g., events vs. new releases vs. a major media appearance.

Stylistic details Reviewing his style for insight, I get:

  • Share content in your own voice. Hazelgrove’s style is chatty, informal, and personable, and he frequently thanks others. Having met him once in person when we sold books side by side at a book fair, I know this gels with his in-person style of interacting with the public.

  • Include an abundance of text, images, links, and even some video when you reach out to fans.

  • We’re often taught to pare things down and consider the modern world’s depleted attention span and available time. However, sometimes more IS more. (Another case in point: Bollywood.)

Strategic details Hazelgrove has a literary agent, his books are published by major publishers, and he still works his tail off—to promote his books, himself as an author, and his various streams of knowledge (both history and the writing process). Analyzing key points of his overall approach, I conclude:

  • Without quality offerings, none of the rest matters.

  • You’re never too big to stop working hard.

  • Have a popular specialty (his is history) but seek out untold stories, new themes, and interesting characters.

  • Keep in regular contact with your fans but not so often that they start to ignore your emails.

  • Stay busy with creating and promotion.

  • Because you’re staying busy, stay organized.

Sign up for William Hazelgrove’s newsletter in the righthand column of his website.