Do I need a mailing list to sell books?
There are many things that, as an author, you can afford not to do: tweeting, being on Facebook, blogging, emailing bloggers, advertising, etc. All these are options, or channels through which you can market your book.
Having a mailing list, however, is not an option. As Michael Hyatt, NYT best-selling author and former CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers puts it: “If there’s one thing all professional platform-builders agree on, it’s the importance of building your list.”
Imagine that you’ve put a lot of effort into marketing your first book. What happens when you’re about to release the second one? How do you leverage your existing reader base to sell more copies?
Just like a personal website (or a Reedsy profile), a mailing list is an indispensable tool for all your future marketing efforts.
But where can you find a professional email marketer with the right expertise to help you set up and grow your mailing list?
What does an “email marketing” specialist do? And how can they help me?
An email marketing specialist will help you build reader mailing lists and leverage your existing fanbase to sell more copies every time you release a new title.
Generally, a professional marketer specializing in email marketing will offer to help you with:
- Mailing list integration: Find elegant ways to make readers want to give you their email address. In particular, a marketer will think through the reader’s journey on your website from initial visit to subscription.
- Increasing conversion through email sequence automation: Design and install automated email sequences for the readers subscribing to your mailing list. A marketer will then determine the most effective way of engaging with readers so your leads convert into sales.
- Mailing list management: Ensure your mailing campaigns always target the right audience by segmenting your mailing lists.
What can I do to grow my mailing list?
That’s the million-dollar question! Growing your list obviously depends on a wide number of things (like your social media presence, the genre you write in, whether you’re writing series or standalones, etc.), but there are a few tactics that have proven effective for a number of authors across different genres:
- Advertising on Facebook: You can design and serve ads to a targeted audience so that they sign up to your mailing list. More about this here.
- Organizing a giveaway: Offering something for free is a simple way to get a lot of people interested (and potentially join your list). More about this here.
- Using a “lead magnet”: Advertise a free book (or more!) both on your website and at the end of your books to entice people to sign up to your list. More about it here.
- Blogging: If you post good content on a regular basis, you can build a blog readership to whom you can advertise your next book. This is more relevant for non-fiction.
Of course, it’s an email marketer’s job to help you choose which tactic makes the most sense, then implement it on a small scale to test its effectiveness.
How do I keep my email subscribers engaged?
Having tons of subscribers to your mailing list is only half the job. You then need to keep them engaged so when you ask them to download, buy or review your book, a good portion of them will do so.
As with acquiring subscribers, drafting and sending email campaigns is very much a trial-and-error process. What your readers want to hear from you, or how often they want to hear it, isn’t always obvious. Determining what kind of content to issue to your list, and how often, is something an email marketing specialist can help you identify. If you have a robust list of subscribers, you might need to consider breaking down different lists, creating segments, or setting up automatic mailing sequences. These nuanced approaches to email marketing can take years to perfect -- but our experts can personalize that information and teach you what you need to know in no time.