Ask any experienced author, self-published or traditionally published, and they’ll tell you that their mailing list is the best way to communicate with their readers. While having a strong social media presence is also important, getting people to willingly give you their email in exchange for updates from you and your writing is the best tool in an author’s pocket.
The thing that’s so powerful about mailing lists is that you control it. You can take it with you if you decide to switch email providers and you don’t have to comply to the social media website’s changes to their posting guidelines or post visibility. You don’t have to worry if a social media site is going to fade out and then you’ll lose touch with your readers (imagine all the marketing dollars spent on gaining Myspace followers…).
But one of the biggest questions asked by newbie authors, myself included, is how do you build a list from nothing? Nobody knows who you are so why would they give you their email? I’ve read several books, blog posts, and forums on the topic and I think I may have found the key to slowly, but successfully, build my mailing list.
The first person on my mailing list (besides me) was a friend of mine from college. From there, I mostly got friends and family to sign up after a few rounds of hounding them. But what about the strangers that are going to sustain your publishing career? How do you get them to sign up?
The truth is, you’re not going to really get anyone before you have at least one book out. That’s a pill you’ll have to swallow, no matter how hard that is. The thing to remember is this is going to take a long time. At least to build a meaningful list. You don’t want to buy subscribers, you don’t want to entice freeloaders to sign up for freebies. You want people who will buy your books when you announce them. Follow the points below to find the right people:
- Put a call to action in the back of your book. – The first thing your readers should see when they finish you book is a statement asking them to sign up for your mailing list. With your ebook, make sure this is a clickable link. The more steps a reader has to make to sign up for your mailing list, the less likely they are to complete the process. Make it simple for them and put a hyperlink in your ebook.
- Every so often, post the mailing list sign-up on your social media pages. – Don’t bombard your followers with marketing, but keep in mind the reason you created an account to begin with. You should be posting about things in your life other than your books sometimes to remind readers that you’re a real person, but a marketing plug every once in a while doesn’t hurt. This method is admittedly not the most effective way to gain subscribers, but it certainly won’t hurt. Especially if you time it with an upcoming release.
- Make it easy for your readers to find the sign-up page. – Put it on your website, in your email signature, on your blog, on your social media pages, use SumoMe to put a sign-up banner at the top of your website and a pop-up asking visitors to sign-up. Draw attention to the sign-up. Make sure it’s “above the fold” of the website. If it’s in your footer, people are going to ignore it.
The same rules apply for your mailing list on your website as they do for marketing on social media: don’t be spammy. If you include a pop-up, set a delay so folks can actually see your page before being asked to sign up. Change your settings so the people who did sign up won’t see the pop-up again. Or at least not for a long time.
Remember to make your pitch enticing. Just saying “Receive my updates” is not enough (although that’s more or less what I do, but I’m working on coming up with more creative language). If you decide to offer a freebie, keep in mind that you may be getting freeloaders signing up and not actual paying customers. Offer a Smashwords coupon or set up a giveaway. They’re still freebies, but subscribers go into it knowing they might not win so you’re less likely to get as many freeloaders.
Follow through with your promise. If you tell people to sign up to receive weekly writing advice, make sure you deliver weekly writing advice. Even if it’s to a subscriber list of two people. Those two people don’t know how many people are on your list, so make it as professional as if your list had two million people.
Don’t entice readers with a promise you can’t keep. I straight-up tell my readers that they’ll get infrequent updates about me and my writing. Some authors would probably argue that’s not the best way to do it, that I should have more frequent emails, but I don’t want to bombard their inboxes with crap. Not only that, but I’m far too lazy to have weekly emails. If I have something to announce, I send an email. But that’s just me. Find your comfort zone and commit to that. Tell your readers what to expect and then deliver it.
This process won’t guarantee an immediate influx of reader sign-ups, but it will ensure that you’ll draw the types of readers you want. With each new release you’ll get a few more readers and then a few more. That means with each release, when you announce to your slowly-growing mailing list that you have a new book out, you’re going to sell more copies the first day and will shoot further up the charts each time, which will bring even more readers. It’s certainly a process, but it’s also certainly worth doing.
The Full Moon is available for preorder and will be released February 6, 2016.
Kathy and her sister, Samantha, have always been a team. Throughout their time as witches, they’ve taken out more than their share of bad guys. But after Kathy meets Will, who she learns is a demonic Dark Knight, her loyalties begin to change.
Meanwhile, Samantha doesn’t trust Will or his intentions. Still, Kathy can’t help but feel tempted by the dark side as she falls deeper in love with Will. Crossing over would give Kathy the freedom to do whatever she wanted with her magic. No rules. No limitations. It would also mean breaking the bond she has always shared with her sister, who has made it clear that she wants nothing to do with the dark side.
When Will proposes they take over the underworld, Kathy loves the idea of having power. But it also leaves her with a choice that will change her life: abandon her family and the life she has always known, or give up the love of her life forever.