I want to thank Tina Radcliffe for this opportunity! It’s great to be back on Seekerville.
So, why is it so important to build a mailing list? Email marketing is a valuable part of your book marketing plan. No matter how many social media fans or followers you have, you want the ability to reach out to them in a direct way outside of social media. Don’t get caught up in the idea that social media is the only way to market. With all the email a person receives in her or his inbox, when they give permission to add their email address to your list, that’s a great endorsement of trust in your author brand.
They want to know more about your books! Woo-hoo!
Select a Mailing List Provider
The first step in this process involves selecting a mailing list provider. In order to not overwhelm yourself with capturing emails, it’s best to automate the process. A mailing list provider will provide tools to capture the information you need via a form. At a minimum, you want to capture the first and/or last name along with the email. The shorter the form, the more likely people will be willing to fill it out. People may become leery if you start asking for too much information, like a snail mail address.
The process should include a way for the subscriber to confirm their email address. Upon confirmation, the email address is stored in a database. This database can be split into various lists. For example, I write both fiction and nonfiction. In order to not send nonfiction book updates to my mystery and suspense readers who may not be interested, I have separate lists.
Here is an example of my most recent Inside the Toolkit Newsletter.
You will notice on the right side of my website (http://theliteraryentrepreneur.com/) I have a subscription box (see image).
Some popular mailing list platforms are:
• Aweber - http://www.aweber.com/
• Constant Contact - http://www.constantcontact.com/
• Mailchimp - http://mailchimp.com/ (I use this one)
• Your Mailing List Provider - http://www.ymlp.com/
A Few Rules
Try not to get caught up in the “quantity” game. It’s important that your mailing list have subscribers who really want to be on your list. It’s okay that the list is small. You always have room to grow. Here are a few rules.
1. You want to make sure the email addresses you are capturing are via a double opt-in process that allows the subscriber to confirm their subscription via email.
2. Never just add email addresses to your list without permission. You don’t want to be labeled a spammer.
Ways to Build Your List
1-Make it Easy
Subscription boxes are usually added in a highly visible place on your author website and blog. Most of the time these areas would be near the top or in a sidebar. If you have a blog, you may want to consider adding a subscription box at the bottom of your blog posts. Wordpress has plugins that can do this automatically.
I believe an author website is the center of their online presence. It’s your official home on the internet. The website is where an author would update readers about their books, consider hosting a blog and most importantly, a place to capture reader’s emails.
I recently released the Step-by-Step Author Website Guide, which is available as an ebook and a planner size paperback.
2-Offer a FREE Incentive
If you offer some type of feature, like free chapters, video or audio, people are usually more willing to add their email to your list in exchange for a freebie.
In fact, over the last few years a marketing strategy called “content upgrades” have become popular. You could write a blog post that includes a free offering like a checklist, cheat sheet or worksheet related to your blog post for readers to download in exchange for their email. It’s important that you’re offering something of value. You can view examples at:
If you don’t want to get into the techie part of where and how to offer a download, check out services like Selz.com or Gumroad.com. You can store your incentive and offer it for free versus placing a price on it. These services will keep a record of the emails.
3-Create a Contest
When hosting a contest, some authors may opt for the LIKE on their Facebook page or a follow on Twitter. A stronger option would be to have one of the requirements be to add subscribers to your mailing list. You should be very clear that entering the contest means you are subscribing to the newsletter. Using the double opt-in will help by having participants “confirm” their entry or email address.
4-Share the Sign-up Link
You can also include a sign-up link in your email (include in your signature) or post to social media to capture emails. Since social media offers options for visual content, you can create a nice graphic that encourages why a reader should consider subscribing to your list. Using a visual also is a great way to share any free incentives you may have like an exclusive chapter of your upcoming release or even a free short story.
5-Share Your Newsletter
I keep an archive of my newsletters on my website. A few days after I release a newsletter, I will add it my blog. It makes great blog content and also encourages more sign-ups via social media.
6-Sign-up Sheet at Offline Events
I have collected many emails simply by placing a sign-up sheet on my book table. The most important part of this process is to clearly state to those who signed up that they are being added to a mailing list. This will be a manual task to add emails. You may want to still send a confirmation email. This may help avoid adding any bad emails. I can’t always read people’s handwriting. I can barely ready my own sometimes. ;)
What to Send Subscribers
Of course, after you build your list, you want to must plan to keep in touch with the subscribers. That has been my struggle over the years because you don’t want to only show up in a subscriber’s inbox to sell them a book. Emails to subscribers could be:
1- Consistent Newsletter
Many authors do a monthly or quarterly newsletters. This is an opportunity to share a personal side with you as well as may direct readers back to your website for new information they missed.
2-Announcement Alert or Eblast
You may use this opportunity to share about your upcoming book release, a blog tour, an upcoming radio interview, a book festival, a book signing invite, etc
If you blog, you may want subscribers to receive your new blog posts immediately upon publishing. This is probably the more automated way of utilizing an email list. WordPress.com/WordPress.org and Blogger.com offer ways for your blog readers to subscribe to your blog posts.
The key to building a list is so you can create a loyal group of readers interested in updates about your latest book release. This is pretty crucial to future sales.
Now, I'd like to hear your input on mailing lists.
If you are an author, what mailing list provider are you using? What are some ways you’re encouraging readers to sign-up for your mailing list?
If you’re a reader, please share what you enjoy about author newsletters. What do you want to see more of? What annoys you?
Tyora Moody is the author of Soul-Searching Suspense books which include the Reed Family Novellas, Eugeena Patterson Mysteries, Serena Manchester Series, and the Victory Gospel Series. As a literary-focused entrepreneur, she has assisted countless authors with developing an online presence via her design and marketing company, Tywebbin Creations LLC. For more ways to attract readers to your book, visit The Literary Entrepreneur.
In honor of Ty's visit today we're giving away the winner's choice of an e-copy of The Literary Entrepreneur’s Toolkit: Building and Managing an Online Presence for Authors or an e-copy of Broken Heart: A Novella (The Reed Family Book 1) to two commenters. Winners announced in the Weekend Edition.