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How to do an author newsletter swap

Reach more of the right readers for your book with an author newsletter swap. Here's why it's a good idea along with tips for doing one.

An author newsletter swap can help you reach more of the right readers while building relationships with other authors in your genre.

author newsletter swap 2
Kirsten Oliphant

“The value of swaps comes not just from selling books, but connecting with other authors to forge relationships, and getting in front of other readers. As a community, it helps authors network and I know my readers love my recommendations each week,” says frequent swapper and novelist Kirsten Oliphant of createifwriting.com.

With a newsletter swap, you and another author agree to promote each other’s books in your email newsletters. (If you haven’t started a newsletter yet, this book promotion opportunity is an excellent incentive to do so.)

Ideally, it will help sell books, too. Whether that happens depends on several factors that include:

  • The strength of your swap partner’s recommendation.
  • How well your book is packaged and presented.
  • How closely aligned your partner’s email subscribers are with your ideal readers.
  • Whether the swap hits inboxes when recipients are looking for something to read.

What’s involved with an author newsletter swap? Let’s dig into it.

When to do an author newsletter swap

There are no rules about when to do a swap, but many authors peg them to a:

  • Book launch
  • Limited time free book offer
  • Limited time sale or deal price
  • Need to boost sales, attention, or reviews

They are designed to help bring attention to your book. When do you need that? Your answer might be different from someone else’s.

Finding authors

You need an email newsletter to do a swap. Otherwise, it’s not going to be reciprocal.

With a newsletter list in place, your first step is to find and approach other authors in your genre, or one that reaches the right readers for your book.

Where do you find them? You have several options that include services:

I’d start with authors in your network before signing on with a service that connects you with authors you don’t know. Starting with a friend lets you work out the kinks. A friend is more likely to be understanding if something goes wrong the first time you do this.

Be selective with your swaps

As you look for authors to collaborate with, focus on finding good books to share with your subscribers. Don’t partner with just anybody because you’re dying to try this out. Be selective.

author newsletter swap 3
Derek Murphy

“They work really well, better than most deal promo sites now, but it depends on authors building relationships with readers and not promoting garbage, so books should be vetted,” says Derek Murphy of CreativeIndie.com, an author who has participated in several newsletter swaps.

Don’t have time to screen books by reading them from cover to cover?

“You may also want to check out at least a bit of the beginning of the book through the ‘Look inside feature’ if you aren’t buying and reading it,” recommends Oliphant.

What happens if you don’t?

“I’ve caught a few books that were not clean that had signed up as clean to swap with my clean romance pen name. That would have broken trust with my readers, big time. You’re responsible for what you share, so do your homework,” Oliphant adds.

[novashare_tweet tweet=”As you look for authors to collaborate with for a newsletter swap, focus on finding good books to share with your subscribers. Don’t partner with just anybody because you’re dying to try this out. Be selective.” hide_hashtags=”true”]

Author newsletter swap specifics

You want to make it as easy as possible for others to swap with you. That starts by providing easy access to book information and images.

Online swap services (see the options above) will tell you what they need and give you a way to share it. If you’re doing this without a service, create a file of information that includes:

  • Book cover images
  • Book description
  • Author bio
  • Pricing (and sale dates, if relevant)
  • Links to online retail sites (note that Amazon prohibits use of Amazon Associates links in email marketing)
  • Links to your social media profiles (so you can be tagged by your swap partner)
author newsletter swap 4
Lisa Romeo

Lisa Romeo, author of the memoir Starting with Goodbye: A Daughter’s Memoir of Love After Loss, recommends personalizing the package according to the other author’s needs.

“Consider the readers of that other newsletter, and tailor a few sentences that make sense–which may not be your standard book description lines,” she says.

Loading this into a zipped file that you share via Google Drive or Dropbox will make it easy to share.

You’ll also need to request this information from your swap partner, so have a list detailing what you want saved on your computer for easy access when emailing the author.

How many swaps you do and how often depends on your goals and how much you can handle. Murphy organizes more than 20 swaps for new releases.

Is this for you?

Romeo says she can’t say for sure if swaps sell books, but sees value in them.

“If the age-old theory about consumer behavior is right — that someone has to be exposed to something a half-dozen times before making a purchase — then getting my book in front of readers’ eyes any additional time has to be helpful. Since this kind of mutual marketing has no cost attached, I think of it as a win-win,” Romeo says.

Want to do this, but worried that your list might not be big enough? Don’t worry about it. What’s the worst that can happen — an author turns you down? You can handle that.

There’s no downside to this tactic. It’s an excellent way for authors to support each other, you’ll strengthen your author network, and you’ll reach more readers. You can’t lose.

Have you done an author newsletter swap? Please tell us about it in a comment. 










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    1. Thank you, Walter! I’m so glad to hear it! Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment.


  1. I don’t mean to butt in on Mr. Stoffel’s response above, but I can’t find a way to contact you , Sandra. I have a very big problem right now – a book almost ready to be printed and NO MAILING LIST! How does one build a mailing list? I’ve gone to all my friends and relatives but am not getting the numbers I need. Is there a secret way to get people to sign up for your email? Where can they do that? I’m sorry to say I am at a complete loss at how to build it beyond my local contacts. Can you please give me some clues?

    1. Hey, Patricia, the fact that you couldn’t find a way to contact me surprised me. There’s a “contact” option on the site toolbar above; you can get my email address there. Also, I believe you subscribe to my email newsletter; you can reply to any of them in your inbox.

      To answer your question, you build an email list by opening an account with an email list management service such as MailChimp, ConstantContact, MadMimi, and so on. Using that account, you add an email sign up form to your website. To get people to give you their name and email address, you have to give them a free digital download called a “lead magnet” — it’s something that they will value. It can be the first chapter of your book if you write fiction, a free report, a checklist, and so on. I give people who sign up for my newsletter my “Top 5 Free Book Promotion Resources.”

      Here are links to more information on my site about email newsletters:



  2. I’ve self-published two novels but have done little about marketing (being otherwise occupied with a solo business), so this concept is new to me. (In many ways, I don’t get out much, ha ha!) Great ideas! Thank you for the itemized process.

    1. Sally, it can be SO hard to find the time to do everything you’d like to support your book, right? The trick is to really know your ideal readers. That will help you zero in on the marketing tactics that will take you the farthest the fastest. And, in this case, if you haven’t started building an email list for your fiction yet, you can cross this tactic off your list of options for now.


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