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Are you self-publishing?
Sales hit a slump?
Or are you at the beginning of your self-publishing journey and are looking for ways to build your business?
You will go from-
Not having a list or maybe not even knowing about email lists to gaining the knowledge, tricks, tips and insights and building a successful mailing list filled with readers who WANT your product and would be willing to buy from you!
What you will need-
An email list provider – Such as MailChimp, Mailerlite, GetResponse etc. –
We personally use Mailerlite and are on the 5-10,000 plan.
I’m a bit of a technophobe and I like simplicity. I’ve personally tried MailChimp and Mailerlite and for me (us) Mailerlite was a lot more simple to use.
That’s only my opinion though.
We personally have the 5,001-10,000 plan.
What does ’email provider’ mean?
In short, it is the system/software that houses all of your collected emails and is the place that sends out your emails.
This can be in the form of one-off broadcast emails (Like an announcement – I have a book release! Yay!) or as part of a ‘drip’ campaign, where your subscribers get a regular email talking about your back catalogues, processes, behind the scenes info etc.
I see these as casual conversations.
Let’s get into it…
Why is an email list important?
I see it as a house full of people who are waiting to hear news about your book and or projects. And you only have to go ‘hunting’ for them once. You’ve invited them in, given them a cuppa and some cake, and they will normally happily wait for your next update.
What are three advantages of email?
- The main thing is cost – or lack of it.
Once you have acquired that email address, that’s the hardest part done. They have consented to you having their email. Now, it’s about delivering great content that is of value to your email list. But to send an actual email – costs nothing!
Unlike if you wanted to run ads to sell you book, you have to repeatedly invest to get each sale. With an email list, you can make sales each time you send a free email.
- You have the ability to split them into groups of interest.
What do I mean by this?
Well, you may have different book series that are in a different genre. You have the ability to split your email list into their interest in your books.
Were they interested in your crime series and that’s where they signed up? If so, they may not be as interested in your sci-fi series. You may lose subscribers if you keep emailing them about sci-fi when they joined up for crime fiction. But – you have the ability to ONLY show them emails they would be interested in.
At this present time, I have around 5-6 different ‘groups’; crime fiction, historical fiction, non-fiction, writing, and children’s activity books.
You may say ‘but somebody who came in through your crime fiction ‘may’ be interested in your historical fiction books. And you’d be right…and wrong.
The best way is to gently remind that you do write in other genres and to gently guide them over to different ‘lists’ (that focus on something else) ensuring you let them know. People like what they like.
I had one email subscriber actually email me saying ‘I’ve unsubscribed as I’m not interested in historical fiction, I followed you for your crime series’.
We have a crime series and a historical fiction series. I assumed our email subscribers would automatically want to be notified of both.
I was wrong.
That may only be one person, but they could be a representative of many more.
It’s easy to split them into groups, so make full use of it.
- You can poll them.
I love finding out what my mailing list want. A happy mailing list will stay around and support you for a long time. I like to get to know them and as time goes on, more and more email me to say hi which is lovely.
But say if you were doing some behind the scenes stuff, you could ask your audience which book cover they prefer, or what character name they like the best.
By giving them behind the scenes access, you are giving them value and they are more likely to purchase from you as they have got to know you too.
I even poll them as to which day of the week they prefer to receive my emails (it was Sunday and Monday by the way).
What is an email list worth?
Depending on who you speak to and what business you are in, email lists ‘can’ be worth $42 for every $1 you spent.
That’s crazy good!
So say if it cost you $1 through a Facebook ad to acquire the email address, over time, you will make on average $42 from that email subscriber.
Not bad, eh?
Email subscribers Vs one off sales. Which is better?
If you had asked the ‘old me’, the one who was just about to release her debut novel. I’d be all over the ‘I just want sales!’ option. It feels like it is more of a validation than an email address, right?
If you ask me ‘now’ which I would prefer, I would opt for an email address.
Because that person has opted to be involved and is likely to not only buy one book/product, but will go on to purchase more from me. (see above about how much an email list is worth)
It is easier (and cheaper) to ‘sell’ something to a current customer than convincing somebody new.
I did a poll to my twitter followers asking: Are you more likely to purchase something from an email by somebody you follow i.e. an author?
58% said YES.
That person who has joined your list hasn’t just downloaded your book and gone off into the abyss. They are riding along with you on your journey, you can get to know them, interact with them. They are likely to not just buy but could become and fan and can actually help sell your books by recommending them to their friends.
How EXACTLY do email lists make money?
Weirdly, you don’t sell to them often. (This is a long game)
You build a relationship with them. Nobody is going to buy your products just because you keep emailing ‘buy my book – please!’
That is called spamming.
When somebody joins the relevant list, get to know them, give them value.
But this seems like hard work.
Maybe, but you wouldn’t walk into a party and immediately start pitching your book, would you? If you did, you’d probably get ignored or asked to leave (unsubscribed).
I like to poll my new subscribers for their age, interests, other authors they like etc.
You can cut this work down by setting up auto responders (emails you’ve written that ‘drip’ to your list every week etc.) Then all you do is gather up the information on certain days.
So you write the email once, add it to your automation list and then forget.
I ran another poll to ask what people would like to read about when joining an authors email list:
54% said they wanted to read about exclusive ‘behind the scenes stuff’
29% said they wanted to hear about the next book release
13% said they wanted to know about recommendations
4% said they wanted giveaways.
Look at what number 1 is. They want ‘information’ not selling at.
Of course, at some point, you will ‘sell’ to them (you’re a business after all) but that is not the number one thing you should focus on.
I try and mix it up.
(Tip, use my poll to know what emails to put in your drip campaign.
Email 1 – behind the scenes – your writing area etc
Email 2 – What book you are working on (pre-order link?)
Email 3 – Recommendations of other books in your genre (help your author mates out)
Email 4 – Giveaway – Maybe run a competition where you ask your email subscribers to get 2-3 of their friends to sign up and the go into a draw to win an amazon e-voucher?
Email 5 – Behind the scenes stuff again…. (and it continues)
Most emails are me giving stuff away, finding some freebies, or letting them know what’s coming next for us.
I also use this opportunity to let them know about what other authors are releasing. (My author friends do the same for me).
Probably every 5-6 emails, I actually ‘sell’ them something.
But by this time, they have been receiving so much value, they feel they can trust me where the conversion rate is higher. – And that’s the number one way of making money.
They are also more likely to read your back-list or buy anything else you have been involved in.
For instance, I’m a songwriter with tracks on iTunes and so my email list are more likely to buy my songs than ‘strangers’.
I won’t get too involved with this, as it is a separate blog altogether.
But if for instance, you buy a product or service, really like and would recommend it to somebody else, you can make commission on it.
So, for example, I am an amazon affiliate. (You just need to apply). So when I recommend something that is on amazon, when people buy through a special link that can be tracked, I get a cut of ‘whatever’ they bought on amazon – not just the thing I recommended.
(How to become an amazon affiliate)
Disclaimer – You’re not allowed to use amazon affiliate links in the actual email to your subscribers, so you can get around this by writing a blog and linking your blog to an email you send out.
On some things, you may recommend a subscription service (pay monthly) and if you are an affiliate for that company and you drive traffic to that product, you could then earn a percentage of what that customer pays each month (this is called recurring revenue).
Because you have built up trust with your email list, they are more likely to purchase from you and something that you recommend.
That’s why it is the long game.
Only ‘sell’ affiliate programmes, products that you personally recommend or have used.
Otherwise, it’s called spamming.
I’m an affiliate for:
Publisher Rocket (This is amazing!)
Siteground for housing our websites (soooo much quicker than the others!)
But guess what?
I’ve used all of them and love them!
How EXACTLY do you create an author email list?
Back in the day (I sound old- haha) you could write ‘Join our mailing list for exclusive behind the scenes info..’ etc. and people would subscribe – ahhh that’s easy.
Not so much now.
People like a trade, and I don’t blame them. I’m the same.
So, what you can do is, in exchange for their email, give them value.
If you are writing a crime fiction series, offer them a crime fiction short story so they get to see your style of writing and are more inclined to buy your book when it is released.
Look at what the big hitters are doing:
Check out his books HERE.
Mark tends to give away several books in exchange for an email address – great value!
Check out his books HERE
(We do this and it is very effective)
(For our activity book range, we offer parents 10 free sheets of word search and mazes. They then join my ‘drip’ email list and along the way get resources and ideas to keep their kids occupied. )
These are called ‘Reader magnets’
What is a reader magnet?
Simply put, when it comes to authors, it is commonly a form of writing such as a short story, poetry, book, facts about your book – anything that you give away for free in exchange for an email address.
For other businesses, it could be videos, training or a free consultation.
Something to be aware of – Some people do just join your mailing because they want free stuff. They are likely to subscribe, get your freebie and then unsubscribe.
It happens, don’t take it personally.
Write a book and give it away? Are you sure!!?
I was that person in the very beginning who said. ‘I’m not spending all that time, effort and money in writing a book and then giving it away for free!’
I didn’t understand the value of building a community. I then realised that any author worth their salt, wrote books to give away for free in exchange for an email.
What do we personally use?
What is BookFunnel?
BookFunnel makes it easy to organize group promos with other authors in your genre. When each author shares the promo with their existing mailing list, new readers (as in, readers that open emails and click links!) can find you and subscribe to your list. (Bookfunnel)
Again, (and I do like my houses analogy, don’t I?) Bookfunnel is like a place that houses authors free books that are ready to be delivered to people who give their email address.
They also host promotions and giveaways.
For instance, say you write in the historical fiction genre and you have a free short story to give away.
You join a ‘Historical fiction’ promotion that is focused on building a mailing list (it can be for sales too) and then everybody who has joined that promotion, shares the link to it to their audience (who are likely to all be interested in historical fiction) and so you gain email subscribers from a targeted audience. In return, you share your link to the promotion to you social media followers (you will giving away free books so your followers will love you!) and in return, you fulfil your obligation of the promotion.
Click HERE to see it in more detail.
This is, without doubt, the number one way we have built our email list.
How much does BookFunnel cost?
How do you use BookFunnel?
There you go…
So moving forward, make sure you have:
A short story
A full book
An email provider – mailerlite etc.
Social media accounts in order to share promotions.
See you in the next one.
Let me know in the comments section if you have a book out.
Vicky & Claire x
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