I feel sorry for the author who commented on a blog post here not too long ago that e-mail marketing was dead now that authors could promote their books with social media.
She couldn’t be more wrong. An author e-mail list is essential.
Smart authors are relying less and less on social media and more on building and using e-mail lists to reach the people most interested in what they write. They have realized that we can’t possibly see and read all of the tweets and status updates in our networks, but we see what comes into our inboxes.
And that’s why you need to build an e-mail list. It’s one of the best ways to communicate on an ongoing basis with people you wrote your book for, whether it’s fiction or nonfiction. Here’s why:
- When readers sign up for your e-mail list, they’re giving you permission to send them information. They’re saying, “I’m interested in what you’re sharing.” Those are the people you want to stay in touch with.
- People on your e-mail list are far more likely to notice and read interesting information from you in their e-mail inbox than they are in their social media feeds.
Use your website to acquire e-mail addresses by adding a form connected to an e-mail marketing service such as iContact, Constant Contact, AWeber, or MailChimp. (Don’t be intimidated by the technology – most of them will walk you through the process. And a couple of those are affiliate links.)
You can also collect addresses by gathering business cards when you speak or by using a sign-up sheet at events, or by hosting a social media contest. In all cases, you have to let people know that you’re adding them to your list.
When you’re acquiring addresses from your website, you need to offer readers an incentive to add themselves to your list – call it an “ethical bribe.” What can you offer them to give up their addresses? Maybe it’s the first chapter of your book, a short story, a how-to report, an audio file, or a discount on a future purchase.
Think about what you’ll send to your list on an ongoing basis, too. Whether you send a newsletter or an occasional update about your progress, any ongoing messages have to be useful, helpful, or informative. If they aren’t, people will unsubscribe quickly.
Learn the rules
I’m disappointed when an author who subscribes to my newsletter adds me to her own newsletter mailing list automatically. It’s a solid indication that she didn’t learn what she needed to know about e-mail marketing before starting to build that important list. If she did, she’d know that adding anyone to your list without their permission is counter to federal guidelines.
When you add people to your list — rather than letting them add themselves — those people might report your email as spam.
If you get labeled as a spammer by doing that sort of thing, you’ll be shut down.
Here are a few tips to avoid becoming that e-mailer that nobody likes:
- The e-mail messages you send to your list have to include instructions on how to unsubscribe. The services listed above add this for you automatically .
- It’s called “permission-based marketing” because you must ask for permission. People must consciously choose to receive your messages. They must “opt in.”
- Make sure your message content focuses on the recipient, not on you. Don’t send repeated “buy my book” messages. Send useful information that will benefit the subscriber.
Building an e-mail list takes time, so start the process as soon as you can. Send regular messages to the people who have “opted in” to receive your information, and you’ll be rewarded when your book hits the market.
What’s keeping you from collecting names and e-mail addresses and creating a list?
Like what you’re reading? Get it delivered to your inbox every week by subscribing to the free Build Book Buzz newsletter. You’ll also get my free “Top 5 Free Book Promotion Resources” cheat sheet immediately!