Marketing is quite possibly the toughest aspect of being an indie author. How do you get your books in front of readers? How do you stand out from the crowd? In this series of blogs, I’ll be focusing on marketing and some of the tricks I’ve learnt over the years to generate some sales.
Part 1 –Mailing lists
Making a mailing list has so far been the most effective way for me to sell books and whilst I’m no master at it I thought I’d share what I know.
The first thing you need to do is not worry too much if your book is nowhere near ready. When it comes to marketing it doesn’t hurt to try and get yourself out there early. Also, if you have a huge back catalogue of books it’s not too late to start building a list from scratch.
Who to choose?
There are numerous email marketing services out there and each offers you different functionality and features. To start with I’d choose either Mailchimp or Mailerlite. Both provide the ability to easily create email templates as well as have plenty of options for integrations (more on that later). As a newbie to list building, I recommend Mailchimp (simply because that’s the one I have the most experience with).
Joining Mailchimp is incredibly easy and it takes you through step by step on how to get started. Another benefit of MC is that it provides automation functions which will come in handy down the road.
I, however, am using email Octopus as once your list grows to a certain size Mailchimp and Mailerlite can get a bit pricey. With MC, for example, a list of over 2,500 was costing over £30 a month to maintain and the price goes up as your list grows. With email Octopus, it costs me £20 and I won’t have to upgrade again until I have 10,000 subscribers.
Growing a list
Once you’ve chosen your provider the next challenge is to start growing your list. If you have a website you can easily create a modal popup that will hopefully encourage your site visitors to subscribe.
Sharing the link to your subscription page via social media can also work but what you need is something to encourage people to sign up. In my case, I give away a copy of my novella The Nightblade to those who subscribe. Giving away a short story or piece of artwork can be a great hook.
There are also services such as InstaFreebie (now Prolific works), Book Funnel and the newer Story Origin that all help build list numbers. This is where integration comes in. Each of those services can be linked to your mailing list and automatically new subscribers that come in through that route. InstaFreebie and Book Funnel require a fee but as yet Story Origin remains a free service. The only downside to that service is that it is slightly limiting when it comes to what mailing list services can be integrated.
As I use Book Funnel, I’ll talk about how I’ve used it to grow my list from a few dozen to almost 3,000 subscribers in less than 6 months.
Book Funnel allows users to create and join promotions. All you have to do is set up a book giveaway click on a promo that you like the look of, fill in the form and join it. The success on the promotion comes down to the members of the promo sharing it to their social channels and mailing lists. Sometimes one promotion can generate hundreds of new subscribers.
What to put in your emails?
If you’re working on a book keep your subscribers informed with updates on its progress, the challenges you’ve faced and perhaps some excerpts to whet their appetite. It’s also a great opportunity to work with and help other authors as you can share other authors works in your list and in exchange, they’ll do the same. There are several social media groups dedicated to finding swaps for example.
Write about you as a person. Let your readers learn more about you and let them know you’re human. Other things you can include is news on the latest giveaways, discounts, reviews or character bios and maps.
I’m sure there are more experienced authors out there who have mastered the mailing list if so, I’d love to hear from you! Leave a comment below with your top tips and please subscribe to my mailing list via – https://emailoctopus.com/lists/56af726d-5645-11e9-8622-02cfe9e979c6/forms/subscribe
In the next post I’ll be taking a look at some of the promotion services that are available and which ones are worth the cost.