Yeah, yeah, yeah. You know you should have a newsletter, but you just haven’t had a chance to really work on building it yet. Or you have started a list, but there’s only 30 people on it. Or you prefer to just use the Amazon “follow” feature instead. Believe me, I’ve been there, but working your newsletter sign ups and releases is like going to the gym. You might have to make yourself do it, but you’ll like to results when you do.
To quote Nike: Just do it.
Why? Because apart from Amazon’s mysterious algorithms, your mailing list/newsletter is your single best marketing tool. You should be working to build it at every juncture. With a large list, you can drive early sales which will tweak the Amazon algorithm in the right direction. Even if you invest money in growing your list, sending those newsletters out is free, which means you’re reaching your perfect, targeted audience every time at no additional cost.
I started making a concerted effort to build my list last August. At that time, I had around 100 people on my newsletter list. They were a very engaged one hundred, though, since they had really had to seek me out to sign up, rather than vice versa. I decided to offer a short story I’d written called Her Billionaire Boss to anyone who signed up for my newsletter. I posted it in the back of my new release and ran an ad on Facebook for $3/day (that was before they bumped their minimum to $5/day–grrr). I received around 7 new sign-ups per day, gaining 148 new subscribers in a month. Then they started to tail off. I offered a different short story–The Alpha’s Punishment, which is the companion book to a full-priced book. I figured I would kill two birds with one stone–get sign-ups for my newsletter, and promote the full-priced book. This time I had even better success with my ad campaign– around 10 signups per day for a month or two, gaining about 300 new subscribers. This campaign also tailed off.
According to Vale, “A cost-effective way to get newsletter subscribers is to host a giveaway. Rafflecopter is a great option for hosting a contest to collect emails and randomly select a winner. It works great on websites and tying into Facebook, etc. Doing a giveaway with other authors not only shares the expense of the prize, but broadens the promotion to even more (new!) readers/fans.”
She was right–in less than a week, we had close to 200 subscribers, and it only cost me $25. Compared to the Facebook ad process, that was quick and affordable!
Quick and Dirty Tips for Newsletter Subscriber Building
- Use a newsletter service to make signups quick and easy. I use Mailchimp.
- Don’t just have one little sign up box on your blog. Have a big sign-up. Make it obvious, or at the end of every post.
- Suggest people sign up in your bio, on Amazon, in the back matter of every book.
- Offer an incentive–a free download of a short story or even a whole book, if you’re willing to get them hooked that way. You can use InstaFreebie to deliver the files, which will keep them protected and also comes with instructions for how to upload the files to the appropriate e-readers.
- Run a Facebook ad to get new sign-ups, with the freebie as bait.
- Offer a giveaway, like a giftcard to Amazon through a Rafflecopter contest with the sole purpose of collecting email addresses. You can go in with other authors on this to pool money for prizes and extend your reach.
You’ve Built it– Now use your newsletter!
Permission based marketing (your newsletter) is the very best way to connect with your most engaged readers–so use it! Obviously, you will use it to send out information about your new releases, but don’t forget to make it personal. These people want to connect with the real you. Don’t be afraid to share your feelings about your books, your life, etc. Don’t be afraid to ask them for help, if you need it. I recently sent out a newsletter with information on a box set I’m a part of that we’re releasing in an effort to make a best-seller list. I told them how they could help and was stunned to receive more personal responses than I ever have from a newsletter! The month before, I invited them to join a private Facebook page. I thought I might hear back from one or two. Within days, I had a full-fledged reader group of 30 members! It’s exciting to be able to connect with readers this way!
Author Cynthia Sax’s newsletter reflects her fun-loving personality. Her newsletters always end with a series of jokes. Author Annabel Joseph often shares drool-worthy pictures of sexy men in her newsletters! Be yourself. Have fun. Don’t think of newsletters as a chore or even as something terribly serious. They are better than blogs in that they reach right into your readers’ homes to say hello, so give your newsletter the attention it deserves!