Email Marketing Fundamentals for Authors

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Check your inbox… you have a bunch of emails from your family, friends, colleagues, people who you know. The other emails – that’s email marketing. Its website you have signed up for – giving permission to send you emails about specials, offerings, news etc. 

Email is a big part of our lives as professionals, individuals, and, yes, even consumers. Think about this, how many people do you know without an email address? There’s a good chance that you can count these people on one hand.

Email is still the best sales channel. Email marketing for authors is an absolute must. But to stand out from the other emails that flood your inbox…. That’s the trick! 

We will cover these topics, soon you will be firing away your emails to your audience and growing your list! Let’s get into it:

  • Why is an email list important
  • Where to start
  • Choosing an email marketing platform
  • Automating your email marketing 
  • How to attract subscribers
  • What to share in your emails

Why is an email list important

An email list is valuable because it is made up completely of potential clients, fans or people who have shown an interest in you! When they choose to sign up, they have “allowed” you to promote to them. You can share your stories, about your new releases, industry/genre news and an opportunity to stay in touch. It’s a way to connect to your fans, stay top of mind. More about What to share in your emails later.

Email lists are important because email marketing is the best way to connect with customers vs. social media. In fact, you are 6 times more likely to get higher click-through rates through emails instead of tweets. Also, email is 40 times more effective at acquiring new customers than Facebook or Twitter. Read more about this: Importance of Building an email list by Campaign Monitor.

Where to start

Before you start building an email newsletter list, you need to have your own website or blog and of course sign up to an email platform service. You could start by putting out calls on social media, but ultimately you need a website with a popup or a form to sign up. 

New to the website world? No problem, read this article:
Setting up hosting and domains for your new author website 

Start collecting email addresses right from the start. Even if you don’t know what to do with them. 

Choosing an email marketing platform

There are loads of different Email Marketing Platforms you can use. Ask your friends, your own network or forums who uses what and how they find it.

There are the free versions for smaller lists and of course the paid versions that offer a bunch of extras. It all depends on where you are in the game and what you need, also how often you plan on sending emails.

Most platforms have beautiful free templates, or you can create it from scratch, with drag and drop options. No coding skills needed.

Here are some of the Email Marketing Platforms that we have used:

Mailchimp 

Free for the first 2000 contacts, the free version is slightly limited. They have some great free templates and there are loads of tutorials on how to use it and set up your platform. They have 4 tier pricing plans to suit your needs. 

MailerLite

Free for the first 1000 contacts. Great templates and also easy to use or you can build one from scratch – no coding. It’s similar to Mailchimp. Create a free account or do a trial and see which platform you feel comfortable with. Their pricing is based on how big your list is. 

Sendinblue

With this free option you can send 300 emails a day and have unlimited contacts!! There is a Lite, essential and premium pricing plan. They have some great templates that you can work with.

Campaign Monitor

No free offering, it has three tiers. You can sign up for a free trial. They have beautiful drag and drop templates. 

ActiveCampaign

Also doesn’t have a free offering. Four pricing tiers. Pricing also depends on how big your list is, and how many users will use it. This platform is powerful, linking Facebook, SMS marketing and in-depth Onboarding series options. You are able to have in-depth reports and tracking.

This, in my opinion, is the “Big Daddy” of Email Marketing Platforms. It’s the most powerful one we’ve personally used and what we’d recommend if you really want to have a lot of control and power in creating email campaigns that link with your other online marketing.

There are loads of options, test them out and see which works best for you. Often they have a free trial for you to check them out first.

Example of what an Email Marketing Platforms have to offer: Mailchimp

Automating your email marketing 

You can set up automations (emails that are automatically sent to new subscribers). Usually, the free ones only allow you to set up one “on-boarding series”. 

It’s a sort of Welcome email. Usually this will be the email offer / freebie or ebook freebie to download that convinced them to join the list. Follow that by asking how are they enjoying it a few weeks later and guide them back to your website to view your books.  Try and make it sound a bit more personal and give the reader a little bit more info about you as an author.

Make them want to go back to your website. Also, let them know that you will be sending emails from time to time. Most people know this already but it helps to give them an idea of what to expect.

You should always set it up to automatically send a newsletter for when someone subscribes to your list, it will just save you SO much time and back and forth sending things manually.

You can plan out your newsletters, for example at the beginning of the month you can strategies and think up topics you wish to share. I often duplicate a past template, don’t build from scratch to save time. Depending on your service provider, you can schedule the newsletters to go off a certain date and time. 

Before starting to send our newsletters, there are a few things you should set up first:

  1. Sign up to an email marketing service platform (Choosing an email marketing platform)
  2. Customise your automated subscribers/unsubscribe forms
  3. Add the sign-up links or code to your website. Use forms or popups on your website. Depending which website builder you use, most have templates pre created which you can adjust. Important details to capture is First name and Email, second name is optional. Having a name is great to personalise your emails. Isn’t it better getting an email saying “Hi Sonja” as opposed to Hi friend, Hi subscriber or a simple Hello. It feels like they are talking to me more.
  4. Set up your email lists / Audience. Some providers allow you to have more than one list. You could want one list for ebook downloads and another one for fan resources etc. Treat them differently and send different content if it suits them. 
  5. Add all your social links, reading platforms and a link to your website. 
  6. Add your logo or same style theme as your website. Make it look like the same thing, similar colour schemes and fonts. 
  7. Always have an unsubscribe link or button!

Here are some examples of Book Author Newsletters for inspiration of a layout and what content to add. 

Examples of email template layouts: MailerLite

How to attract subscribers

Offer a free course, eBook download, a valuable piece of information in forms of a pfd or something that would attract people to want to sign up. The ebook can be short stories specifically written for the download or a few chapters of your new book. This can give people a taste for your writing and allow them to want more! Convert readers into loyal followers! 

Integrate the signup in your design and or make a pop up. Let the opt in appear more in one place on your website. Email marketing providers offer various templates and you are able to change the colour scheme to match your site or you can download another widget or plugin to your site. 

Do not spam your list. They will vanish just as fast as they subscribed. It can also lead to your email address being spam flagged which will mean that any emails sent with the same @yourauthorsite.com ending will go straight to their spam box! 

Your author newsletter needs to go out on a semi-regular schedule, but be warned: emailing subscribers too regularly could see you landing in the ‘spam’ folder, or have people’s fingers inching towards that ‘unsubscribe’ button.

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What to share in your emails? 

Put yourself in the subscribers shoes. What would they be interested in reading? Keep their attention and keep them opening your emails in the future?  Avoid email fatigue – when fans stop opening your emails and avoid spam emails. Don’t just send stuff for the sake of sending, share valuable content – then your list will grow and not the unsubscribers. 

Here are some ideas of topics and news you could share with your audience. 

  • Behind-the-scenes as a author
  • Motivational or inspirational advice
  • Upcoming events/book readings / book signings/Facebook Live events etc
  • Videos 
  • Your story (how you got into writing, what inspired your recent book etc)
  • Sneak peeks (book cover, teasers, excerpts)
  • Free, downloadable resources
  • Book reviews or featured books
  • Contests/giveaways
  • Interviews
  • Lists (favorite books from other authors, podcasts, tools, software)
  • Details about the research process for your book
  • Launch team invitation
  • Deleted scenes and alternate endings to your book (without giving any spoilers)
  • The publishing process
  • Photos of people and places that inspired your book
  • Snippet about your new blog, try not just to copy and paste the original blog post, make it a little different and have a “read more” if they want to find out more.
  • Anything that adds value to your emails and shows off your personality!

Start Growing Your Website Platform with Email Marketing

Now that you know the importance of email marketing and how to use this platform to grow, it’s time to start making a plan for implementation.

Convinced? Now get out there, plan your email strategy and build your list – make it flourish!

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