Imagine the feeling of sitting back and watching the sales flood in for a book you’ve only just launched – and all you did was send a quick email.
Sound too good to be true?
Not a bit of it. This is what thousands of best-selling authors do all the time. The secret is their author mailing list.
Create a ready-made audience for your books
Building an author mailing list means that when your next book is launched, you already have an eager bunch of fans to kickstart your sales, boosting your book up the charts and making it more visible to other potential buyers.
Ask successful authors what single method guarantees book sales, and the answer isn’t “great editing” or a “knock-em-dead cover”, but the power of their email list to enthuse readers, make their books visible and generate reviews and sales.
This is also why authors often say that their greatest regret is not starting a mailing list sooner.
Put simply, a mailing list that you own and control translates into more books sold than other social media methods. Tim Grahl famously tested the power of Twitter and email lists to sell books and found that for every one book sold via Twitter, he sold six via the email list.
But more importantly, your email list belongs to you – not to Amazon, iBooks, Facebook, Twitter – or any of the other social media platforms. Consider it as a type of insurance. If one day Facebook suspended your profile, or Twitter locked you out of your account, you’d lose all the contacts you’d built up. But you’d still be able to email your readers.
Get a hotline to your readers
Your list is effectively a direct line of communication between you and your readers: the people who love what you write and who have given you their express permission to contact them.
It wins hands-down over other types of messaging and marketing because it lands straight into your reader’s inbox. Compare this to your updates on Facebook or Twitter which might reach only a tiny percentage of the people who follow you.
There are also other great benefits. You now have an opportunity to build up a personal relationship with your readers. Imagine having a test group of people who can tell you what they like reading, comment on your cover or blurb, read your first chapter and give you feedback. You can even nurture a list of your most loyal fans, and involve them in your writing process.
Your email list doesn’t have to be huge to have an impact. In fact, a list of a few hundred, highly engaged readers is better than a list of thousands who never read your emails. And if you haven’t published yet? It’s the ideal time to start building trust and cultivating relationships with your potential audience with useful or relevant contact. Then when you do publish, you’ll have a ready-made audience of fans to reach out to – rather than crossing your fingers and hoping for good luck on the launch day itself.
Here’s how you can start building your fan base
Make your sign-up form visible. Put it, or a link to it, in numerous places (website, Facebook profile, etc) as well as at the front and back of your books. Make it stand out on your website. (Think contrasting colors and font, and a clear “Sign Up Here” or “Join Here” button).
Here’s a great example from Dan Blank, from WeGrowMedia.com
Offer an incentive to join your mailing list. Many authors offer a free book, but you can also tempt readers with a short story, sample chapter, list of resources / checkpoints or a how-to guide if you write non-fiction. The key is to make it relevant and to showcase your writing talent.
Set up more than one list if you write in different genres or pen names.
Email your readers regularly. Write about subjects that will interest them, and limit the amount of promotion or “selling”. Bear in mind that regular emails will keep you front-of-mind and help keep your readers engaged with what you write.
Use it along with your other ways of communicating. Remember the “7-touch” concept: that is, people often need to see a message seven times before taking action. An email can be reinforced by a Facebook post or ad, a promotion or giveaway, a tweet, blog post – or another email reminder.
Encourage your readers to reply to you. Make the most of the fact that email feels personal. Ask a question in your emails and reply to any emails from your readers. These one-to-one conversations don’t just feel nice; they also cement the relationships you have with your readers.
Ready to unleash the power of your email list to sell more books?
We’re offering a completely free mailing list service to the first 100 authors. Click here to get your invitation!