Check out any writing site and it will tell you how important it is for an author to build her mailing list. Mailing lists help you to get noticed and build a relationship with your readers which, in turn, helps sell books.
I’ve been trying to build my mailing list for my publishing company for a while now, without much luck. It wasn’t until I was organizing yet another Facebook ad that I had an epiphany–I was targeting the wrong people.
Knowing Your Audience
As a publisher, I mistakenly thought I wanted to market to authors. If I could get their attention, they’d see the books I was selling, read about my authors’ successes, visit them when they did their book signings, etc., and want to publish with me. The problem was that most authors I was targeting were self-published and had no need for a publisher.
I had to ask myself: as a publisher, what is my main goal? Signing authors was great, but no matter how many authors I signed, if no one bought my books, my company wouldn’t be very successful.
My ideal audience was composed of people who read English, fiction readers living in North America and maybe the UK. Their sex wasn’t an issue, but since Facebook tends toward an older audience, I needed to target adults, 18 years of age and older.
Many sources will tell you to offer people an incentive for subscribing to your email list. Plenty of authors offer free books as an incentive, so I put together a book documenting how I’d planned and executed my last blog tour, complete with links to actual sites I used and statistics for click-throughs vs. impressions vs. sales. It was the perfect incentive for authors.
After my epiphany, I decided to offer a free eBook, any eBook in my catalogue. To do this, I created a Google form on which subscribers could request a specific book or choose a genre and let me choose the book for them.
I generally run my Facebook ads for a week with a budget of $5.00 per day. When targeting authors with my ads, I was lucky to have 10 leads per ad campaign. With the same run of $5.00 per day for a week when targeting readers, I found 62 leads!
The day after my campaign closed, I emailed everyone on my list of new leads with a link to the Google form. Only 5 people replied to ask for books, which was disappointing–eBooks cost nothing to give away, and once my audience had gotten a taste of the quality of my authors, I had hoped to sell more books.
This month I sent my newsletter out to 62 more people than usual. Two people unsubscribed the next day, which was to be expected. Now, in addition to new books for sale, my newsletter includes a list of advance reader copies (ARCs) which readers can order for free, with the hope they’ll post a (hopefully positive) review when they’re done. Out of the 82 people on my list (I had 20 people on my list before), 2 people requested ARCs.
A 2% response rate might not seem like a lot, but it’s a start. It’s more engagement than I had before, at any rate.
I’m building it and they are slowly coming.
Sign up for my mailing list to request one of this month’s ARC eBooks for free!