Reach more of the right readers for your book with an author newsletter swap. Here's why it's a good idea along with tips for doing one.
An author newsletter swap can help you reach more of the right readers while building relationships with other authors in your genre.
“The value of swaps comes not just from selling books, but connecting with other authors to forge relationships, and getting in front of other readers. As a community, it helps authors network and I know my readers love my recommendations each week,” says frequent swapper and novelist Kirsten Oliphant of createifwriting.com.
With a newsletter swap, you and another author agree to promote each other’s books in your email newsletters. (If you haven’t started a newsletter yet, this book promotion opportunity is an excellent incentive to do so.)
Ideally, it will help sell books, too. Whether that happens depends on several factors that include:
- The strength of your swap partner’s recommendation.
- How well your book is packaged and presented.
- How closely aligned your partner’s email subscribers are with your ideal readers.
- Whether the swap hits inboxes when recipients are looking for something to read.
What’s involved with an author newsletter swap? Let’s dig into it.
When to do an author newsletter swap
There are no rules about when to do a swap, but many authors peg them to a:
- Book launch
- Limited time free book offer
- Limited time sale or deal price
- Need to boost sales, attention, or reviews
They are designed to help bring attention to your book. When do you need that? Your answer might be different from someone else’s.
You need an email newsletter to do a swap. Otherwise, it’s not going to be reciprocal.
With a newsletter list in place, your first step is to find and approach other authors in your genre, or one that reaches the right readers for your book.
Where do you find them? You have several options that include services:
- Your author network – people you know already, either in-person or virtually
- Facebook and LinkedIn groups for authors, particularly groups for specific genres
- The Kboards bulletin boards
- BookBoast’s newsletter swap service (read R.J. Crayton’s detailed article on how to use it)
- The Author XP Newsletter Swap Club
- The Author Email List Swap program from TCK Publishing
I’d start with authors in your network before signing on with a service that connects you with authors you don’t know. Starting with a friend lets you work out the kinks. A friend is more likely to be understanding if something goes wrong the first time you do this.
Be selective with your swaps
As you look for authors to collaborate with, focus on finding good books to share with your subscribers. Don’t partner with just anybody because you’re dying to try this out. Be selective.
“They work really well, better than most deal promo sites now, but it depends on authors building relationships with readers and not promoting garbage, so books should be vetted,” says Derek Murphy of CreativeIndie.com, an author who has participated in several newsletter swaps.
Don’t have time to screen books by reading them from cover to cover?
“You may also want to check out at least a bit of the beginning of the book through the ‘Look inside feature’ if you aren’t buying and reading it,” recommends Oliphant.
What happens if you don’t?
“I’ve caught a few books that were not clean that had signed up as clean to swap with my clean romance pen name. That would have broken trust with my readers, big time. You’re responsible for what you share, so do your homework,” Oliphant adds.As you look for authors to collaborate with for a newsletter swap, focus on finding good books to share with your subscribers. Don't partner with just anybody because you're dying to try this out. Be selective.Click to tweet
Author newsletter swap specifics
You want to make it as easy as possible for others to swap with you. That starts by providing easy access to book information and images.
Online swap services (see the options above) will tell you what they need and give you a way to share it. If you’re doing this without a service, create a file of information that includes:
- Book cover images
- Book description
- Author bio
- Pricing (and sale dates, if relevant)
- Links to online retail sites (note that Amazon prohibits use of Amazon Associates links in email marketing)
- Links to your social media profiles (so you can be tagged by your swap partner)
Lisa Romeo, author of the memoir Starting with Goodbye: A Daughter’s Memoir of Love After Loss, recommends personalizing the package according to the other author’s needs.
“Consider the readers of that other newsletter, and tailor a few sentences that make sense–which may not be your standard book description lines,” she says.
Loading this into a zipped file that you share via Google Drive or Dropbox will make it easy to share.
You’ll also need to request this information from your swap partner, so have a list detailing what you want saved on your computer for easy access when emailing the author.
How many swaps you do and how often depends on your goals and how much you can handle. Murphy organizes more than 20 swaps for new releases.
Is this for you?
Romeo says she can’t say for sure if swaps sell books, but sees value in them.
“If the age-old theory about consumer behavior is right — that someone has to be exposed to something a half-dozen times before making a purchase — then getting my book in front of readers’ eyes any additional time has to be helpful. Since this kind of mutual marketing has no cost attached, I think of it as a win-win,” Romeo says.
Want to do this, but worried that your list might not be big enough? Don’t worry about it. What’s the worst that can happen — an author turns you down? You can handle that.
There’s no downside to this tactic. It’s an excellent way for authors to support each other, you’ll strengthen your author network, and you’ll reach more readers. You can’t lose.
Have you done an author newsletter swap? Please tell us about it in a comment.
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