Monday, December 1, 2014

Email Marketing for Writers: Build Your List!

Time to ditch social media for email marketing? Here are five tips for collecting more emails, which will help you sell more books, boost your writer's platform, and waste less time online.

Why Email?

Building your email list is a better use of your time than acquiring followers, friends, fans, or connections on social media. Here's why.

Send an email and almost all your subscribers will receive it and on average 25 percent will open it. Post to your Facebook author page and you're lucky if 10 percent see the post -- never mind click on it. The response rates on Facebook pages has gotten so poor one major blogger recently killed their page.

I have 2,000 Facebook fans: Only about 1% of them Like or Share a typical post.

I have 380 email subscribers: My emails reach almost all of them and 30% open my missives. Adding more email subscribers is a better use of my time than adding Facebook fans.

Tips for Building Your Email List

1) Start with a free, relatively easy-to-use email management tool. I've been using Mailchimp so we'll use that in the examples below.

2) Review, sort, and upload existing contacts to Mailchimp. Over the years, you've been collecting emails of friends, coworkers, former coworkers, and other people. Email management programs typically let you export your contacts into a format that can be manipulated in a spreadsheet or other program. In Yahoo mail, go to your contacts page, click on Actions at the top of the page, and choose Export. In your spreadsheet, weed out all the jerks who wouldn't want to hear about your new book or an update on your writing career.

The Yahoo export page on the Contacts page.

3) Collect emails in person at parties, readings, or any place where you discuss your book or writing. The ask: "Can I add you to my email list?" If someone gives you a business card always ask: "Would it be better for me to use your personal email address?" (It's better for you to their personal email in case folks change jobs.)

4) Collect emails on your blog and Web site. On your blog, be sure there's a sign-up box embedded in each post. (See what I've done at the end of this post using Feedburner, a tool designed specifically for blogs.). Want to parse your audience into more targeted lists? Mailchimp allows you to create a variety of email lists each with their own sign-up box. This is useful if your blog or Web site, like mine, covers a range of topics.

Two sign-up boxes on my Web site.

A third sign-up box on my blog.

5) Convert social media connections to email subscribers. With Facebook, consider paying to promote a post that notifies your fans that they may not be seeing your updates due to recent changes to Facebook. Include a link to a signup box. You may even offer a freebie -- a chapter, a short story -- to people who sign up. For more on email sign-up incentives, read how author James Seeley boosted his subscriber list.

6) More Email marketing tips 

- the basics from Wiley
- a good primer on Bookbaby
- advanced tips from Copyblogger

More Marketing for Writers


- Book Marketing: E-mail Lists and Newsletters

- Self-Promotion for Writers: Dump Social Media, Embrace E-mail

- LinkedIn for Writers: A Slick Trick to Reach Readers

Art attribution for email image: Gokhan.kapici at tr.wikipedia. Later version(s) were uploaded by Emperyan at tr.wikipedia. [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons

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