Author email lists are incredibly powerful tools for authors. It is a direct line between author and reader that allows you to grow your readership and market your books, share information on your newest projects, and turn new readers into lifelong fans. One of the best incentives for creating a mailing list (aside from the obvious) is that the author has full creative control, unlike with social media. What you reap is purely a result of how you use it, so what are you waiting for?
If you don't have an author mailing list yet, these 6 tips will help you get started!
Tip #1 - Create your author website
If you don't already have an author website, this is your first step. If you do already have one, make sure it's set up for email marketing and skip ahead to step number 2.
Your author website is your "home" base. It's where your About information is, where your books and updates are housed, and the primary location where your books are sold. It ensures that your audience can get to know you from you. It's a great place to host your branded sign-up box for your email list. Regardless if you're using it for pre-orders during a book launch, to announce exciting upcoming author news, or to maintain the interest of your readers, make sure it's eye-catching and prominently displayed. You can use website platforms like WordPress, Wix, and Squarespace to get started.
Here's an example of an author website (Leigh Bardugo):
And here's an example of what a newsletter sign-up box looks like also from the same website:
Photo Source: Leigh Bardugo's author website.
Tip #2 - Choose your mailing list provider
Photo Source: Reedsy
An email list is going to require a mailing list provider in order to manage your list. If you're unfamiliar, this is a list of potential providers: MailerLite, ConvertKit, Flodesk, Active Campaign, ConstantContact, and MailChimp. Some websites will also include emailing services as part of their premium tiers such as Wix. Most of these providers will allow authors to use their service for free when starting out with a small number of subscribers, with room to grow into full services when needed. Each offers slightly different features so it's best to do your research before signing up.
Tip #3 - Create an email incentive to entice readers
Source Photo: Reedsy
Think about what would make you sign up for your favorite author's email list. What would you find enticing enough to give your email away for? Whatever the answer is, this freebie is what you need to create and offer for your own subscribers. In this day and age, everyone dreads another pointless email so incentives are necessary in order to attract attention and persuade people to sign-up. Better yet, when your incentive provides value to your reader it helps improve your author reputation and builds author/reader trust. This helps turn readers into loyal fans.
Your incentive should be a downloadable file that you can instantly link to your subscription sign-up. Your freebie can be writing tips, free character art, an Ebook, a free chapter of your novel, a discount of some kind, or a preview from your upcoming course launch. Anything that you can think of is fair game as long as you have the skill set to create it.
Tip #4 - Announce your author newsletter and stay consistent
Photo Source: Writing It Wells
After you have your email list provider and incentive set up, it's time to consider your author newsletter. Think of your newsletter as though you were writing to a pen pal. You'll want to keep your readers in the loop about your novels, your writing process, and your upcoming releases. Use it to divulge exciting news, share insider secrets, promote your sales, and ask for reader feedback. Your newsletter is a great way to showcase your books as well as your personality outside of being an author.
To get started, choose how often you'll be sending out your newsletter. Most authors send out a monthly newsletter, but you can set whatever schedule works best for you. Whatever you choose make sure to communicate when it will be sent out to your readers so they know when to check for it. Staying consistent will help you keep reader interest over time. The next step is to consider creating a template that you can use each time you craft your newsletter.
Tip #5 - Give subscribers a personal experience
Photo Source: Rupi Kaur's website
Don't forget to treat your subscribers to a pleasant experience! Make sure to personalize your welcome email for when new subscribers sign-up using an automated welcome email. Keep in mind that even though you may gain subscribers, it doesn't mean they're permanent. People can unsubscribe, send your newsletter to their spam folder, or ignore it if they feel it isn't worth their while. While choosing to provide value is a large part of what keeps your subscribers opening your emails, the other part is personality. Showing your readers who you really are and making them feel welcome will help you retain their loyalty in the long-term.
Another thing to keep in mind is that not every subscriber will come from the same place or know the same information. They'll join at different stages and will require different approaches. The best way you can cater to your audience is by creating specialized lists that group subscribers together based on where they signed up and what their needs are. Avoiding grouping everyone together in a big list and sharing the same information across the board.
Tip #6 - Grow through engagement and giveaways
A great way to grow your email list as an author is to host a stream of book giveaways. This method attracts a large amount of attention and can generate more excitement than other types of incentives. Pick novels that are similar to yours that fall within the same genre. This will ensure that your ideal reader is the one subscribing and not a random Jane looking for a freebie. Get creative and collaborate with other authors in your genre to create giveaway bundles to up the excitement. Make sure to mention that subscribing is an entry requirement and spread the word on social media. An example of an Indie author who did this successfully was ML Banner.
Constant giveaways will attract those looking for free books so it's important to weed out the freeloaders before you run any sales campaigns. A good rule to note is what author Derek Murphy does with his email list. He keeps his main email list separate from his giveaway list so that he can clean it out before adding serious subscribers to the main list. One way to go about doing this is by introducing yourself and your work to your giveaway subscribers through future giveaways and your typical newsletter content. Then you can send a follow-up email announcing that there won't be any more giveaways. Those looking for a handout will unsubscribe and what will remain are the readers who are actually interested in staying with you.
Your author mailing list is your lifeline. Everything from book updates, important release dates, new content, and newsletters can be directly delivered to your readers subscribed to your emailing list. With these 6 tips to get you started and to help you generate interest, you can grow your list and increase your book sales.
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