A mailing list is one of the most vital tools in the professional author’s arsenal. What makes it so important? And how can you go about growing one?
Why a Mailing List?
When it comes to selling books, nothing is more important than the attention of readers. It can be hard to get that attention in the sea of distractions that is the modern world.
When someone signs up for your mailing list, they are turning their attentions towards you. They are saying that they want to read more from you. They’re giving you privileged access to their attention, and that means they’re more likely than anyone else to buy your books.
Building and maintaining your mailing list is therefore vitally important.
To start a mailing list, you need to sign up to a mailing list service such as Aweber or Mailchimp. Which service you choose depends on what suits you. Mailchimp is often good for starting writers, as it’s free to use for small lists.
Your mailing list service will let you set up a series of preferences. These include the look of the signup page for your mailing list and the content of the email people receive when they sign up.
Many authors offer a free e-book to people signing up to their mailing lists. A link to the book can be included in the initial email, and it’s a great way to draw people onto the list.
Having set up your mailing list, you need to encourage people to sign up. The free book is a part of that, but it only works if people know about it.
One way to get people onto the list is from your website or blog. Include a link to your mailing list from there. Mention it regularly in posts. Consider adding a pop-up about the mailing list to the site.
Tell people about the mailing list and any freebies in the back of your books. In the e-book versions, include a link to the mailing list.
Use your social media to remind people about the mailing list, for example by including a link in your profile.
Your mailing list should be one of the most prominent parts of your public profile.
Regular or Occasional Emails?
Having set up your mailing list and started attracting attention, you need to decide how often you’ll send out emails.
There are two different approached to this, and which you use depends upon what suits you and your readers.
Some authors only contact their mailing list when they have something special to announce, such as a new book release. This means that readers don’t feel spammed, but that you risk losing their attention.
Other authors email their lists regularly, for example once a week or once every two weeks. This maintains a constant link with readers, reminding them about the author and their books. But if you don’t have anything interesting to say then it just becomes spam and attention is lost.
Write Something Worth Reading
However often you write to your mailing list, make sure that you’re writing something worth reading. It should be relevant and interesting to your readers. For example, military history writer Russell Phillips tells readers about discounted books in his genre, while I send out short stories every week to my list of fantasy and science fiction readers.
Whatever else you’re sending out, take the opportunity to tell readers about your own latest releases – after all, that’s why you have the mailing list.
Bonding With Readers
As far as possible, try to use a relaxed, informal style when writing to your mailing list. You’re trying to foster a bond between you and your readers. That feeling that they are connected with you will make them interested in your work, more likely to read your emails and your books. Play around with style and content, see what works for you and what generates good responses.
A mailing list can be a lot of fun. It’s also one of the most powerful marketing tools you can have. So before you do anything else to market your book, set up that list. It’s the best way to see your readership grow.