I know you’ve been looking for the magic book marketing bullet. You know, that one thing you need to do to sell more books and build a business around your book. Well, your search is over. This is the single most powerful book marketing tool.
- Social media,
- Facebook Messenger bots,
- or some AI robot selling your book in malls, although that’s a pretty cool idea, isn’t it?
The single most important book marketing tool is an email newsletter list.
When I promoted my first book, I broke the Top 100 overall on Amazon with just my audience. It took the support of others to break through to the top, but still, it was my list that moved thousands of books to start the book launch.
And, it’s not just bookselling. When I left my training and education company to start Book Launchers my first 10 clients came from my email list.
The effort pays off over and over again. Regular email contact with your readers keeps you top of mind. When someone who runs an association needs a speaker, a book club needs a new book to read, media needs someone to interview, or someone asks for a referral to someone who does what you do, you’ll be much more likely to be the first name they say if you’ve had regular contact with them via email.
Emails may be ignored, but they won’t be missed like a 24-hour story that disappears or a post that drops down in a feed, never to be seen again.
Side Note: If you want to see what I do as an author, and see a newsletter that regularly gets 30 to 40 percent open rates, (which is extremely high in the industry) go and get my monthly Broad Thoughts newsletter.
It’s a monthly content driven newsletter designed to create a connection and build a relationship with the readers, which is what you want to do as an author looking to sell your books.
So how do you start?
Number one, decide how often you’ll send a newsletter.
Pick a frequency you can maintain. Be warned though, a low frequency like quarterly, risks people forgetting they signed up. If they don’t remember you, they unsubscribe or worse, flag your email as spam.
Number two, choose a newsletter service.
Focus on a company that has great deliverability, integrates easily with your website, and most importantly, is one that you’ll use. Don’t worry about making this newsletter look super pretty. Plain emails perform well. A lot of people like MailChimp. I used to use AWeber and loved their service. They had high deliverability, which means more people got the emails versus them going into spam.
That said, the most recommended service for authors right now is a service called Convert Kit. The founder is an author and designed the email system for creatives like authors. Our Client Care Specialist, Jaqueline Kyle uses it for her author businesses and coaches clients to get it set up. She highly recommends it for its simplicity and ability to integrate easily with any website.
Bottom line, you need a service to help you collect email addresses and communicate with them.
Number three, put your opt-in form on your website.
Most services have an embed form. You don’t need to know any code. But you can always pay someone five bucks on fiverr.com to do it. Just change your password after.
When you set this up, be specific and honest about what people are signing up for. Include a line that tells people what they’ll get if they subscribe, how often you’ll email them, and what to expect when they get your emails. Never add people without their permission. That’s gross, and in most countries, it’s actually against the law. In Canada and Europe, you are required to get people to double opt-in.
Now that it’s set up, you’ll want to work on creating something that entices people to sign up for your newsletter. Like, the Book Selling Gameplan.
Now, here’s what to put in your email newsletter!
If you’re in the middle of writing your book, this is the perfect time to test some of that content in your book. An email newsletter doesn’t have to be perfect. You can put out half-baked content and see what people say in response.
Take some of the ideas in your book and share them.
Make sure it adds value and even entertains. Your newsletter can be short and to the point. People are busy, so the longer your email, the less likely they will absorb what you have to say.
And remember, people don’t have time for ‘homework’ or ‘action steps’. They want you to do the work for them if you can. If you recommend a book, for example, include a synopsis so they don’t feel like now they have another book to read. You want them to save their reading time for your book, right? 😉
Stick to quick tips or content that is easy to digest. You can always link to the more detailed content that’s on your website or elsewhere.
Study your email behavior to get a sense of what might work in your newsletter.
How much do you read? What catches your eye? What content is of value and prevents you from unsubscribing?
Pictures used to be frowned upon, but I find pictures and videos help people get to know you and build a stronger relationship. You also don’t tend to run into the same spam filter issues that used to arise with HTML formatted emails.
Most importantly, have a unique subject line for every email and watch what works. What gets the most open rates? It’s often not what you think. My most popular recent subject lines recently were:
- You on TV.
- I’m curious.
- My best tip for cross-border moves, and
- Jerry Seinfeld’s words of wisdom for authors.
People open those emails at record rates. Once you know, they’re opening your emails, monitor whether people are engaging with you or not. Do they click your links? Do they hit reply and chat with you or do they share what you say with others? If not, change it up until you find what’s connecting with your audience.
Email Newsletter Essentials:
Make your content easy to scan with some formatting and even an image. Be respectful. Add value with every email. Make it fun to read and engage with you.
And, most importantly, be consistent! You may only have 10 readers when you start, but if you say your newsletter is monthly just keep doing it! If you skip a week or a month, thinking nobody’s reading it anyways, so it doesn’t matter, your newsletter won’t be the super power selling tool that it should be.
Finally, one little itty bitty detail. Decide what mailing address to use. Federal law requires that anyone sending emails in bulk or for marketing purposes include an unsubscribe option and a physical mailing address.
Book Marketing Tool Power! How to Grow Your Email Marketing List
Now that you know how to get a newsletter started and what to put in it, you want to find readers!
Once your book is published, I highly recommend you include a few strong calls to action to subscribe to your newsletter inside your book. More on that another day. For now, let’s focus on building an audience who will be the first to buy and read your book when it launches.
Number one, make sure there’s an opt-in form on every page of your website and that the invitation is engaging.
These days you have to offer something that is so valuable people would otherwise pay for it. But it doesn’t have to be an entire book. What about a checklist? A tool? Or a game plan? We have a few we currently offer, and we are building more. You can download our Book Publishing on a Budget workbook right here.
Number two, create a squeeze page.
You want to have a single page you direct people to when you’re doing interviews or linking at the bottom of a guest post. This page has one goal, and that is to get a reader to sign up for your newsletter. Again, this is why we recommend Convert Kit. They have tremendous resources to help you create a great landing page that will grab attention and email addresses!
When you put a link into your book, you also want to send people to a single purpose landing page! If you send people to your website you will lose 99% of the people who go there. You’re much more likely to get opt-ins to a squeeze page than your website because people get distracted by all the other cool stuff on your website and forget to subscribe.
Guaranteed, spending some time to create a squeeze page or two will attract far more email addresses than any other form on your website.
Number three, treat all people and their emails with respect.
When someone gives you their business card, that is not permission to be added to a newsletter. The number one reason email newsletters get a bad reputation is because people break this rule all the time. Just because you connect with someone on LinkedIn or through a conference, that doesn’t mean you have permission to add that person to your list. Ask them for permission, but remember to ask!! Some people will say no, and that is ok, but many people want you to give them your best tips and will say yes.
Most importantly, focus on building relationships with people so you can sell your book, build your business, and be top of mind in others. Your email list is going to be the most powerful marketing tool when your book comes out and beyond! Skipping this step is leaving money on the table.