As writers we talk a lot about the marketing power of social networking, but perhaps we overlook what email can do for us. Author friend Abel Keogh shared some of his insight on the subject with an author group that I belong to, and I was thrilled when he agreed to guest post today.
A little about Abel: for nearly a decade he has worked as a professional copywriter and composed hundreds of print and online pieces marketing collateral for technology, real estate, health care, and education organizations—including several Fortune 500 companies. So he knows what he's talking about. Take it away, Abel...
As an author, one of the best things you can do is have several ways to communicate with your fans. While social media sites are a great way to do this, on often overlooked method is email.
Not everyone is going to follow you on Twitter or join your Facebook fan page. You could post a big announcement for an upcoming book on a social media site and there are going to be diehard fans that will miss it. However, the one thing most people do on a regular basis is check their email. And if you can capture your fans email addresses, you’ll have a great more personalized and direct way of communicating with them.
Sadly, I’ve discovered that lots of newly published authors as well as many writing veterans abuse, overuse, mismanage, or simply don’t know how to use email to connect with their fans. Here are three email marketing tips that can help authors use email as a way to market their books.
1. Know Your Audience.
It’s important to know who’s signing up for your newsletter. Are they fans of your book(s)? Are you a subject matter expert that they hope can give them some knowledge or insight? Whoever they are, remember that you’re writing the email for their benefit—not your own.
Before you start to write an email to your list, ask yourself if it’s something your fans would care about. There are few things I hate more than signing up for a newsletter only to have an author email me about their family vacation or a child’s birthday. If that’s what I find in my inbox, I immediately unsubscribe.
Good things to send your audience include upcoming book releases, excerpts, speaking engagements, contests, book tours/signings, positive press you’ve received, a short story, article, or essay you’ve written—anything the audience would find of value.
2. Use but Don’t Abuse
As a rule of thumb, you only want to send emails out when you have something of worth saying. If you have enough content for a monthly newsletter—great! If not, it’s not a big deal if you email them three or four times a year. (Last year I only sent out 5 emails. I’ll be sending out more this year with the release of my novel in May.) What you want to avoid is bombarding them with emails they find worthless. Your audience values their time. Don’t waste it with pointless emails or you’ll lose subscribers and fans.
3. Use an Email List Manager
An email list manger will save you time and headaches. It allows you to send out an email to your list with the click of a button and lets your fans to subscribe or unsubscribe to your list without you having to manage a spreadsheet or email group.
Another advantage of an email list manager is that you can schedule your email to go out at any time. Usually I’ll write mine over the weekend then schedule it to go out later in the week morning people are more likely to read it.
When you set up your email list manager, I highly recommend that you have subscribers double opt-in in order to join your list. This means after they enter in their email address, they’ll receive an auto-generated email from “you” asking them to confirm their subscription. This not only means you’ll have valid email addresses, but no one can ever accuse you of sending them spam. If they receive your email, it’s because they asked for it.
There are lots of email lists managers out there. I use Your Mailing List Provider, but there are others out there that work just as well or better depending on your needs. Do your homework and find out which one is the best for you.
Remember emails are one of many tools in your marketing quiver. If done right, they are a great way to make a more personal connection with your audience, create buzz, and boost sales. But like any tool, you have to know how to use it to get results.
Abel Keogh is the author of the novel “The Third” (coming May 2010) and the memoir “Room for Two.” You can read more about his books at http://abelkeogh.com. Sign up for his author newsletter here.