When Facebook changed its algorithm back in December of 2017, it was the change that could be heard around the world. People and businesses noticed their ads were getting fewer views and their pages even less. And while some of this will bounce back over time, it’s these kinds of changes that make a strong argument for not putting all of your book marketing efforts behind social media. Because ignoring your own real estate could cost you, dearly, especially since we all want to sell more books.
How a newsletter can help you sell more books
A newsletter is a fantastic way to communicate one-on-one with your reader. And, if used correctly, it can be a great indie book marketing tool to sell more books. But you’ve got to keep it relevant to them.
The newsletter is about them, and not you. Sure, you can share personal details of your life. But keep in mind that oversharing in a newsletter and veering off-point is disrespectful to your reader, and will likely encourage unsubscribes. Your goal is to sell more books, to encourage engagement and to foster the connection with your followers.
It’s hard to do that if you ramble on about your Aunt Ethel’s 86th birthday party. I mean it’s awesome for Aunt Ethel, but your readers may not care so much. This is probably better shared on Facebook!
So, why would you consider an email newsletter? Well, consider this. It’s harder and harder these days to stay top of mind with your reader. With so much coming at us it’s easy to forget. And the simple effort of staying in touch doesn’t just garner you the attention of your consumer/reader. It can also get more business, help you sell more books and get author events/speaking gigs.
What makes a newsletter great
So what does it take to create an outstanding newsletter everyone will want to read? Here are seven simple steps for creating a robust book marketing tool:
- Know your Audience: this is first because it’s most important. Know who you’re writing for and who will be reading this. Make sure the information is relevant to them.
- Go Light on Promotion: when it comes to promotional copy in a newsletter, I recommend the 95/5% rule: 95% helpful information and 5% sales copy. Trust me on this. I can’t tell you how many newsletters I delete that are overly self-promotional. If the newsletter/email campaign is good, it will sell you. I know you want to sell more books. Just don’t be so blatant about it that it gets you a load of unsubscribes each time you send out a newsletter.
- Focused Content: Create one focal point for your newsletter. Each newsletter should have just one goal. Decide what that is and make sure all the content reflects that. Which doesn’t mean you can’t mention 1-2 other things, but keep the focus (the big article) on the main idea. Like with anything, it’s a good book marketing strategy to stay focused and on message.
- Consider Collaboration: If you’re doing a newsletter, maybe you’re worried you don’t have the bandwidth to write a whole newsletter yourself. You could also collaborate with a few people who are in your genre/industry, but not direct competitors. Keep in mind that if you do this, you’re essentially all sending the same newsletter to each of your group of readers. You’ll want to make sure it’s something that will appeal to all of them. As an example, if you’re doing a giveaway, don’t do a bunch of different ones from each of the collaborating authors. You should all agree to do one giveaway. Otherwise it’s just too confusing.
- Frequency: Watch this one very closely. The general rule of thumb is that the more frequent your newsletter, the shorter it should be. So, if your newsletter goes out weekly, think of offering just a quick tip or a quick update. If it goes out monthly then it can be longer. Often when it comes to effective book marketing, think “less is more.”
- Give your newsletter a “voice.” What I mean by this is give your newsletter a personality. You don’t want a stale, monotone, unfriendly book marketing piece that doesn’t speak to your reader, do you? Show your personality, let it shine through. I like to think that our newsletter has a lot of our voice in it. In order to create “voice” you might want to follow some of the same rules that you do when blogging. Don’t hesitate to share an opinion, viewpoint, stance, advice, whatever. Speak to your reader, not at them.
- Don’t just sit there and read, do something! Make sure that you have a strong call to action in your newsletter. If you have a few calls to action even better. Get your reader to do something. Engage them in what you’re writing, send them to helpful links, offer them bonuses, specials, exclusives. Remember, if they took the time to open and read your newsletter they should get something besides great content. Great links to helpful sites, maybe even a free download, all these things are enticing and will keep your reader coming back for more! By getting them engaged, by pulling them into your message, this is not only a good book marketing tactic but can help you sell more books – because readers may get inspired to share your content or buy your latest book!
- Don’t sell ’em fluff. Ok, I know I said seven tips but I couldn’t help but adding a bonus one. (See what you get for reading all the way through this article? That’s what I mean by over-delivering.) Readers want the information and they want it fast. Don’t use a lot of fluff words or extra (and sometimes useless) content just to puff up your newsletter and make it seem bigger. Give readers the information they want in clear, concise language and then send them on their way. Book marketing rule 101: don’t use 10 words when only two will do!
When it comes to the timing of your newsletter that depends on you and your audience. Our newsletter goes out once every two weeks. We find that to be a good balance: not too much, not too little. But each audience is different so experiment with yours and see what gets readers to open your email.
Also make sure your newsletter is edited. This is a big one. Nothing says “unprofessional” like a newsletter full of typos.
Some Things You Can Share:
- Tips, marketing, business, whatever your area of expertise.
- Specials that are exclusive to your newsletter tribe.
- New books coming out, what you’re working on next.
- News: what’s happened that’s exciting that you’d like to share?
- A personal thank you to all of your readers, for reading and maybe sharing your newsletter.
- And speaking of sharing your newsletter – why not do a contest to anyone who invites 5 of their friends to sign up for your list. Offer them a $5 gift card just for getting five new folks to join.
The ideas you can share in your newsletter is pretty endless, and I hope the above list sparked some ideas!
Getting People to Sign up on Your Website:
Now here’s the thing, you do want folks to sign up on your website for the newsletter, but you’re going to have to give them something to get something. That’s called your ethical bribe. An ethical bribe can be the first chapter or two of your next book. It can be a monthly drawing for a $5 Starbucks gift card (it sounds small but folks love gift cards). You can also do a checklist or something else that seems to align with your audience. Using an ethical bribe in the right way can be a solid tool to pull in lots and lots of new subscribers and sell more books!
I recommend signing up for a free account at Mail Chimp or Constant Contact. You can get free accounts up to 1,000 subscribers. So if you’re over that, you’ll have to pay a small fee but it’s 100% worth it. These services will handle your newsletter mailing. They’ve got templates you can use to make some really attractive newsletters and they’ll also handle your unsubscribes. Don’t email folks manually, even sending to 20 people can get you a host of problems from your email service provider. Most companies take big issue with spamming and if one person complains, it could cause you a host of problems.
Collect Emails Every Chance You Get
If part of your book marketing strategy is that you write pieces for other blogs, make sure that there’s a note that folks can sign up for your email newsletter (if it’s appropriate and the blogger lets you do this). But outside of that you should always, always do newsletter sign ups at your book signings, book events, and speaking gigs. Never go to a single event without a sign-up sheet.
Creating that one-on-one reader connection is vital to growing your book/brand and career. However, it’s also a great indie book marketing strategy to get in front of your audience, time and time again. When done right, they can become a critical and very effective piece of your book marketing plan. Bottom line, a great newsletter can help you sell more books. We’ve had our newsletter for over seventeen years, and I’d never consider being without it. It keeps us top of mind with folks who have expressed an interest in our services, which is more than most social media can do these days.
If you’re a fiction author, or aren’t sure what direction you want to go with your newsletter just yet, try experimenting with different messages before you land on one that “fits.” In most cases, your readers/fans just want to get your updates. They want to know what’s going on, what’s coming up, and what are you working on now. It’s a fabulous opportunity to open the door to direction communication and sales. Yes, this takes time and effort but if done right, the pay-offs can be enormous.
And since selling more books is your goal, if you would like a personal assessment of where you could be doing better, I’d love to help! Get in touch with us here, and we’ll help your indie book marketing goals take off.