If an author has looked into marketing their books at all, they have probably heard someone say “You need a mailing list.”
You Need A Mailing List
I am going to agree with them and tell you that you need a mailing list for your publishing business!
– Why do you need a mailing list?
– Is it worth the cost?
– How do you get started?
These are common questions that authors ask because they do not understand the power that a mailing list gives to them as a self-published or indie author. I will show you why you need a mailing list and more importantly, how to set one up.
Why Is A Mailing List So Great?
Imagine being able to publish a book and then instantly deliver an email to 50, 100, 500, 1000+ fans waiting to hear about your new book. That is the power of a mailing list. It will take work to grow the list reader by reader, but if you start getting your readers onto a mailing list now, it will pay off for you in the future.
When someone signs up for your mailing list, they indicate that they WANT to receive updates from you. This isn’t an invitation to fill their inbox every day, but they do want to hear from you. Use this invitation and send information, especially about your future books, to those readers on your mailing list.
You can also utilize your mailing list to get eager beta readers or to give advance copies to some readers so that you have reviews lined up when you launch your book. You can run potential book covers by your mailing list to see which one they like best. All of these things build anticipation for your book, so when it is released, your readers on your mailing list already know it’s coming and they are excited for it (and are therefore more eager to buy it)!
Can’t I Just Use Social Media For That?
Many people, authors or not, are reluctant to setup a mailing list, and one reason is that they think they can use social media to accomplish the same things. A mailing list and social media are not mutually exclusive pursuits, but if I were to pick one, it would be a mailing list, and here’s why: You’re in control!
When you have readers on your mailing list, you control that list. On sites like Facebook and Twitter, you aren’t in control of the list. Break a rule on Twitter or Facebook? They can close your account. Bye bye reader list. Even if you don’t break the rules, Facebook is limiting who you can reach. Yes, you may have 1000 fans on Facebook, but they artificially limit how many of those people who have said they want to hear from you, actually hear from you. Roughly 10-20% see what you post, unless you pay Facebook. If you have a mailing list, the email is sent to all of those who signed up for your list and you retain control of the list if you want to move to another mailing list company.
While social media is great for connecting with and interacting with your readers, there are limits to your reach. A mailing list gets you (and your book) directly into people’s email inbox.
How To Create a Mailing List
Alright, so you’re convinced that a mailing list is important. Here is how to set up a mailing list:
First, you have to create the mailing list. Two of the most popular companies are Aweber and MailChimp. Aweber has been around longer but MailChimp has been around long enough now, and they have a low-volume free account that is perfect for authors who are just learning about setting up mailing lists, because it is free to start and you don’t have to pay until you have thousands of readers (and at that point, it will pay for itself). Aweber does charge starting with the first month, so I would only use Aweber if you have an established reader base.
Go to either of those sites and sign up for an account.
Next, create a form for your blog. MailChimp and Aweber will each walk you through creating a form to go on your blog. The mailing list sign up form is the perfect way to get people onto your mailing list. They just have to enter their email, and click “Submit” and they will be all signed up. Feature this in a prominent place on your blog (see our mailing list sign up form at the top of the sidebar to the right).
Entice your readers with bonus content. How are you going to get people to give you their email? You need to make it enticing. Can you write a small novelette that is a prequel for one of your main characters? Your readers will love this exclusive content and will sign up for the mailing list to get this small book. If you’re good at drawing (or if you have a friend who is), you can create exclusive art for your book to share with your mailing list readers. Be sure to mention this as a call to action in the back of your book to get your readers from the book to the mailing list!
Lastly, promote your mailing list. Once the mailing list is all setup, you need to let your readers know! This is when you can use Twitter and Facebook to get your readers onto your mailing list. Direct them to your website and tell them to sign up so they can get exclusive content and learn about new books as soon as they are published. As mentioned above, add a page to the back of your books asking your readers to sign up for your mailing list (mention the free bonus). That’s all you have to do!
Wrapping It Up
A mailing list is an extremely important part of your publishing business. It gives you a level of control over your reader list and direct access to your readers that social media accounts just can’t measure up to. You can use your mailing list to get beta readers, line up reviews, and of course, drive sales to new and existing books!
Don’t wait any longer! You really need to set up a mailing list for your publishing business, today!
Happy Mailing List Marketing!