This might be my final post from 20BooksLondon (I will look over my remaining notes and see what I can decipher to see if any of them might make a useful post). There were lots of fantastic sessions where I didn’t feel the need to take notes, and this one is as much a reminder for me as it is a sharing of info, because this is definitely one of my weakest links.
Do you have an email list? I do, but I’m not very good at knowing what to send out, so I took notes in this session, hoping my skills might improve.
All the info out there just now tells us an email list is essential for building a rabid fan base. It’s where you can rouse your fans to help create a stellar book launch when you have a new release. It’s where you develop a ‘street team’ that helps you by reading and reviewing ARCs (Advanced Reader Copies) of your latest before it comes out, so you get last minute feedback and identify those small corrections we all need to make, and when you launch those reviews are ready to go, to help bolster your visibility on Amazon (if you aren’t sure about the importance of any of these things, I highly recommend reading the latest edition of David Gaughran’s excellent book, Let’s Get Digital
It’s also where you interact with your fans, exchange views, news and ideas – another of the wonders of the digital age – fans can actually talk with their favourite authors and get an answer!
My biggest personal problem with my mailing list is that I struggle to know what to put in it. I’ve participated in several list building promos, as well as adding those who contact me after they read my books, and my list currently hangs around the 1000 members.
But I’m a slow writer. I won’t ever be putting out a book a month (as the leaders of the conference do), or even 2 or 3 books a year. My main series is epic fantasy, with the emphasis on epic. These books come in at more than twice the size of most average books, and even 4 or 5 times as big as the shorter reads that are quite popular as ebooks. It takes me between 1-2 years to produce a new book. How do I keep my email list subscribers entertained for that long? How do I sustain interest?
I’m still (as you might gather) struggling with this one. I’ve made steps to be more personal, letting people into bits of my personal life (with photos – always include photos), and I share sales and freebies I’ve found, book reccomendations and once in a while I send a complete short story in the email.
Still, I don’t think that’s going to sustain the interest if I mail too often, so I’ve settled on trying out once a month.
SO please understand, the following notes are not my personal advice, and are not coloured with my opinions, they are simply a straight transcription of the notes taken at the conference. Use them as you will.
- Provide value and namedrop if you’ve had any interactions with big names of any sort – i.e. make yourself sound cool!
- Tell stories that harmonize you with your audience – include photos of you, your family, your animals
- Focus on THEM – ask questions, invite them to share
- Provide MORE value – giveaways etc.
- Offer community (talk about ‘us’ and ‘we’)
- Make a list of readers’ favourite things/topics/genre and use those as keywords in your headline
- Open loops e.g. ‘7 ways to… – you’ll never believe no. 3’
- Ask what they love/hate
- Try being funny
How often should you email?
- Once a week for 3 months after sign up – they won’t open them all.
- Have 12 different emails and test them out so you can find out which they like
- More regular mailings makes them more comfortable with your name
- Keep going!
- Ask for favourite quotes
- Offer monthly prizes
- Turn quotes into memes with your book cover + quote – this also gives you more content for social media engagement
And there you have it. My challenge for the next year.
I am already planning on attending the longer 20BooksEdinburgh summer 2019 that has just been confirmed though no details yet – I can’t wait!
DO any of you have opinions on email lists? I’m always happy to learn, so please share.