Setting up an email list seems like a lot of bother to many authors. They’d rather use Facebook, Pinterest, or whatever. It’s easier and more fun. Who needs an email list?
You do. Marketing experts tell us the email list is the key to success, as I’ve said before. Here are some reasons:
- People reading their email are often in the mood to make purchasing decisions. They’ve been going over their bills and so on. In contrast, people reading their Facebook feeds are in a chatty, social mood. Buying something is generally not on the agenda.
- You control your email list. You control nothing about your Facebook page. Facebook might, on a whim, take it down any time.
- You’re on a quest for 1,000 true fans. These true fans are interested in your novels and various tidbits about your life. Keep spoon-feeding them emails, and maybe adding in the occasional promotion from you or your author friends, and they’ll be happy. You can even ask them to help you, as fans will: share a link, for example.
- Facebook charges money for access to more than just a few of your friends or fans. You have to “boost” your post by paying. Not that this is terrible, but it’s not great either. And many Facebookers miss many posts. There just isn’t time in the day for all of it.
Well, actually the reason you haven’t done it yet is that it’s too darn much trouble and expense to get your own website and set up the newsletter emailer (such as Mailchimp).
Don’t even think of the “cheap” alternative, using your personal email to send emails to fans or people you think want to be fans. If just one of these email recipients fails to remember who you are and marks you as spam, you’re in trouble. Your emails, person and business, will be considered spam by their email provider. If it’s gmail or yahoo, that’s a lot of people now not getting your personal emails, not to mention business emails.
Mailchimp offers free service as long as your list stays under 2,000. It may take you a long time to get to 2,000. And when you do, you can probably afford the monthly fee.
So it’s just the website that’s the problem. Ideally you should get a website with your name as the URL: MyName.com, or MyNameAuthor.com. If you can’t afford yearly hosting fees and domain registration for that, you’re looking at one of those Internet addresses that has a bunch of unrelated words in it. Not optimal; Google will have a lot of trouble sending potential readers your way. You decide.
How do you get the website up and running? And hook up Mailchimp?
Naturally I think you ought to do it right and hire someone. But there are other alternatives that are pretty easy for a novice to use, such as Squarespace.com and Wix.com. Perhaps there’s a helpful geek in your family or circle of friends who will help you set it up.
The main thing is, just do it. Give people a special freebie for signing up. (A short story?) And once you get the newsletter signup on your website, send out a newsletter once a month, or even once every six months. If you wait too long between newsletters, your fans will forget they signed up and one of them might mark you as spam. That will have bad results.
So, let’s say you’ve done all this. What do you say in the newsletter to beguile your fans, especially if you’re pre-published? News of your past books, your next books, your book ideas, an occasional cute photo of your family. You don’t have to spend much time on it. The point is to keep the line of communication open so when you do have news, such as a new release, special pricing, etc., you can let your true fans know about it and ask them to let others know too.