The Most Effective Book Promotion Tool
If you’re a published author, you probably use several methods to connect to your readers: you tweet, you’re involved in Facebook groups and Google plus communities, and you blog.
What would happen if those methods stopped working? How would you reach readers?
The most effective and direct way to speak to readers and potential readers is by growing an email list. If you don’t have one, it’s time to start list building.
What is List Building?
List building is offering something of value for free, in exchange for an email address.
What are the Benefits of an Email List for Authors?
Direct emails let you tailor your message and speak directly to potential readers. If you’ve given them something of value in exchange for their email addresses, you’ve already established a relationship.
Imagine what it would be like to have a list of 5,000 people who read in your genre who you could email when your new book is released, with a direct link for them to buy your book.
How Do I Start Building an Email List?
Setting up a system to gather emails is relatively simple. First, sign up with a trusted email marketing service like Mailchimp or Aweber. Then create a sign up or opt-in form on your website where you offer something free using simple language (sometimes called a “Call to Action) that tells users the benefits of what you’re giving away and clearly explains that they need to submit an email address to get it.
What Can Authors Give Away in Exchange for Emails?
In order to get people to give you their email addresses, you need to offer them something in return. The most effective thing you can give away is information. Useful, entertaining, engaging information. What that information is will depend on what you write about, but some ideas are:
- The first chapter of your novel
- A short story you’ve written
- Tips and how-to advice that relates to what you write. If you’re a psychologist writing a book on troubled teens, you could offer a short guide to communicating with your teenager. If you’re in the process of writing a contemporary romance novel, offer a list of the 100 most romantic novels of all time. For writers in any genre, you can compile a list of 20 sites that offer free books.
- A discount on your book, when it’s published
- Marketing tips that you’ve learned from promoting your books
- Writing tips
You will need to think creatively about the kind of information that your target audience will find most attractive, but once you’ve come up with an idea, it can be packaged in a PDF document and sent to new subscribers automatically, using the email marketing program you signed up with.
Don’t be afraid to experiment with what kind of giveaway works best. You may have to try a few offers and tweak the wording of your offer until you get it just right.
The Rules of Email List Building for Authors
Don’t buy lists. In some cases buying email lists is illegal and gathering emails yourself will ensure that the your emails are targeted to people interested in your genre.
Never sell or give away emails from your list. Doing so could violate anti-spam laws and will violate the trust of your subscribers. Guard your list like it’s gold.
Don’t over-sell. Yes, you should use your email list to let people know about book releases, new reviews and personal appearances, but you should also use it to continue to send subscribers valuable information. Tips, previews of new writing or even reviews of other books will keep subscribers interested and engaged — and will make them want to open your next email.
Other Ways to Grow Your Email List
Ask readers to share the content you’ve sent them. Mailchimp and Aweber make this easy, but don’t forget to enable the share buttons in your emails or newsletters. You can grow your list exponentially if your content attracts attention on social media.
Put a call to action inside your book. You can use the same language and same giveaway. Bonus points if you put in in the first few pages of your book so that anyone reading the free sample will see it.
Examples of List Building
Readers+Writers Journal’s Tumblr Blog displays a pop up where visitors can enter their email address to get a free guide, “The 75 Most Important Hashtags for Book Marketing.” See it in action here (and feel free to enter your email address to get the guide.)
Author and self publishing blogger Joanna Penn uses a squeeze page — an entire page devoted to her offer. The advantage of squeeze pages is more real estate to describe what she’s offering and to display testimonials. See the page here.
Inbound Marketing agency Hubspot uses a discreet pop-up that offers a “featured download” in return for your email address. The title of the guide varies based on the content of each page – their page on email marketing offers a blueprint for writing emails. See it here.