This month’s LERA meeting covered electronic newsletters and was presented by historical author Erica Ridley. It was an all-day affair, filled with brand-new knowledge for me. Electronic newsletters are considered one of the best ways today for authors, whether traditionally or self-published, to alert fans to new books and gain new readers. We had a good turn-out for people to learn about how to put a newsletter together and what to use to entice readers to registering as subscribers.

However it is important not run afoul of the 2003 CAN-SPAM (Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography And Marketing) law, which governs electronic transmissions for commercial purposes. It does not ban spamming, but it does ban deceptive advertising practices. Yes, writers’ newsletters are covered by the law, even if you only have a few subscribers. They have rights that must be respected.

The three (there are additional requirements) most important items to remember when setting up a newsletter are:

  1. The recipient must have requested the electronic transmission. This is why there are subscriber buttons and links on writers’ web sites, asking if you want to sign up for the newsletter. They cannot spam your inbox with their newsletter; you have to ask for it. Many authors make sure you ask for it by using a double opt-in registration system. The authors can entice you by offering freebies, such as free stories or access to deleted scenes or excerpts of their books, etc.
  2. The recipient has the right to unsubscribe at any time, and the link to do so is easy to find. If the subscriber doesn’t want to receive your newsletter any longer, the author must honor the request within ten business days. The author cannot send any kind of “will you rejoin” message for 30 days.
  3. Lastly, the author must provide the address of a valid, physical postal address on the newsletter transmission. Many authors rent a post office box for this very purpose because they write from home and don’t want to provide their home address on the internet. My daughter gave me a year’s rental on post office box as my present this past Christmas. A very useful and appreciated gift. Keep the idea in mind for your writer friends.

Because of all the information I learned from Ms. Ridley, I will be able to complete the steps to setting up my newsletter subscription and hope to send out my first issue soon. See the Content page on my web site for the link to subscribe.  (

For an overview of the CAN-SPAM Act, this link goes to the Federal Trade Commission:

This link takes you to Erica Ridley’s web site, where she offers tremendous freebies to her newsletter subscribers: