At the very moment this post is published, I am attending the InD'Scribe Con & Book Festival and in about 30 minutes, I'll be teaching a workshop called How To Build Your Mailing List While You Sleep. This class will show authors how they can setup an automated system to gather quality subscribers for their mailing lists, freeing up their time to write more books. This article is a reference for those who took the workshop in lieu of me handing out paper materials. All the links and resources I mentioned in the presentation are here for those who attended. Thank you in advance for taking the workshop!
InstaFreebie Giveaway Article
Much of what I covered in this class was discussed in the article I wrote titled How To Build Your Mailing List Quickly, which has step-by-step instructions on how to create an InstaFreebie giveaway with the proper settings to automatically gain subscribers through this wonderful tool. So be sure to read that article for the demo I could not perform in this workshop. Additionally, I mention some of the other resources on how important a mailing list and how to create a reader club. AND I mention how you can use BookFunnel if you're not a fan of InstaFreebie. It's not as automated as the InstaFreebie method, so I do encourage you to reconsider your relationship with InstaFreebie. I get no kickbacks for pushing their services. I just like to use them.
Myth: Newsletters for Authors are Not Working
As I discussed in class, this is a big fat lie and, unfortunately, it's spread by people who don't really know the value of a mailing list, nor do they understand HOW to effectively use a mailing list. Mailing Lists are here to stay and I'll prove it by giving you the short history lesson I taught in the workshop:
Email Marketing is Direct Marketing
Those who are new to email marketing or mailing lists might not know that these are part of what advertising calls “Direct Marketing“. The pioneer of direct marketing techniques was Josiah Wedgewood. Does that name sound familiar? He was a potter who founded Wedgewood pottery, oven cookware and china. He was born in 1730 and died in 1795, but his knack for creating the direct marketing techniques we still use today was “invented” in the 1770s. You think direct marketing is going anywhere? I think not.
You may have also heard of the name Aaron Montgomery Ward. In 1872, he created the first mail order catalog…another method of direct marketing. Sears & Roebuck, JC Penny, Design Tuscano, Pyramid Collection, Ikea…I could go on. Many of these are not only still around today, but flourish and they're based in direct marketing and mailing lists. You think direct marketing is going anywhere? I think not.
Email marketing was just a natural progression of the snail mail mailing lists, and that came about in the 1980s when email was invented. I ask you again, do you think direct marketing is going anywhere? I think not.
Many of the internet marketing specialist today and people in the publishing industry have been asked, “If you only had ONE method do conduct your marketing, what would it be?” Hands down, they all said MAILING LIST. Mailing lists and newsletters, which is the method to communicate with your list, are not going anywhere and they are indeed working. You just need to know how to use that tool.
Mailing lists are the only reliable method of having direct contact with your readers/fans. Conversely, social media platforms control your fan base by how they allow you to interact with them (*cough* Facebook ads and boosted posts *cough, cough*) and THEY have the actual contact information of your fans…not you. If social media were to fail or something new came along, you would lose that contact with your fans on those platforms. If that just made you panic and even pee a little, you need to build your mailing list now!
The Purpose of Your Mailing List
The main purpose of your mailing list is to help you build a valuable and trustworthy relationship with your subscribers (aka customers), as I encourage in all the teachings and tutorials I provide through this site and the one-on-one interaction I have with authors. I have latched on to the concept Kevin Kelly has shared – Your 1000 True Fans. For your convenience, I've provided his video where he explains it, but basically if you have 1000 people who are true fans, who love everything you create and will pay whatever price you put on your creations, you can make a living doing what you love to do. And that's what I teach authors how to do in the mailing list management concepts I provide.
To use this method I taught in class, you will NEED to have a lead magnet. Reminder: a lead magnet is, put simply, a sample of what you're selling, just like those people at the grocery store with a little sample of sausage on a toothpick. They give a customer a little taste and if the customer likes what they consume, they buy more. THAT'S a lead magnet and here are some ideas I discussed in the workshop of what YOU can use for your lead magnet…
- Short Stories
- Permafree eBooks
- Holiday Stories
- Boxed Set Projects (usually short and new material)
The main thing to keep in mind when determining which book is the right lead magnet is this: Does it provide a quality sample of your writing?
For example: I have two short stories that are dark erotica or more properly classified as erotic horror. The bulk of writing I do is paranormal romance with stories that have an HEA. These erotic horror stories do NOT have a happy ending! In fact, people die! LOL So those would not be good samples to attract new people. I personally use Frostbitten Hearts, which is a novella spin-off story from my main vampire romance series. It has a beginning, middle and end and not only introduces readers to the world of vampires I've created, it also teases them into wanting to read my main series by giving them just enough information about the series…but not enough to satisfy their curiosity. MANY of the reviews on this book have said, “I cannot wait to read the rest of the series.” If you have a novella or short story that has similar comments or reviews, THAT is a good candidate for a lead magnet!
And you might have a different lead magnet for each series if you have multiple worlds you've created. Depends on the audience of readers. Case in point, I'll be writing a fantasy series in the future that will not have romance and will most likely be under a different pen name. I will most certainly be creating a lead magnet just for that series!
That should be everything I mentioned in the class, so enjoy exploring those resources and I look forward to seeing you at the next class, online OR at my Udemy classes when I get them online.
If you're reading this article and you were NOT present for the workshop, be sure to signup to my mailing list so you can be informed of upcoming classes and workshop appearances.
That's my two pence…