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Life as an indie author is not easy. Unlike well-known authors who have the backing of huge publishers and agents, it is often very difficult to get your work out there. Publishing on Amazon Kindle is incredibly easy, but once your initial boost of visibility post-publishing fades, your books will quickly descend into oblivion if you don’t put some time and effort into marketing.
Email marketing is a tried and tested method for authors to keep in touch with readers and boost their sales. As long as you pay close attention to the legalities of emailing people – i.e. make sure you have their permission and don’t spam them – you can use email marketing to let your readers know when you have a new book coming or remind them of existing works they may not have read yet.
Here are some tips to help you get started when you are ready to send an email campaign.
Build an Email Marketing Database
You need to build an email marketing database of people who want to hear from you. It should go without saying that people must actively sign up to your mailing list. Don’t even think about buying a list of contacts from some dodgy dealer on DigitalPoint, as that will backfire on you pretty quick.
Give people the option to sign up to your mailing list via your blog or website. You can make this a more attractive proposition by offering a free story to people who sign up or by giving them a link to unpublished material unavailable elsewhere. Let them know what they are getting if they sign up to your author newsletter. For example, tell them they will hear about new releases first, enjoy special promotions, or even freebies. Obviously, you have to be careful here. Don’t make promises that you have no intention of keeping, so if you promise a subscriber a free book, make sure you send it, or they will soon unsubscribe.
On a side-note, if you have readers in the EU, make sure you adhere to the new GDPR legislation, which is very specific about obtaining consent before holding any personal data about someone living in the EU. You can find more about this issue here.
Creating Marketing Material
The next step is to create material people want to read. Your best bet is to keep it relatively simple. Most people don’t want to be hit with a huge ream of information when they open their email inbox. A short email outlining what’s new is perfect. If you have a new book about to be released, give the reader the blurb and a link to the first chapter (which you can post on your blog/website). That should be enough to whet their appetite.
When you have your book cover finalised, this is another great reason to email your readers. A quick reveal could be enough to get them excited about a forthcoming release.
Once you have hit ‘publish’ on your book and it’s gone ‘live’, it’s time to send those emails out again! Let your readers know the book is ready for them. Give them a link to the book and invite them to leave reviews if they enjoyed it. Reviews are always important for an indie author, so make a point of reminding your readers to be generous with their reviews!
Whilst you should avoid emailing your contacts too often, as it can easily become irritating, sending out general emails from time to time is a good way of touching base with your readers. Tell them about your writing process, where you find inspiration, and what prompted you to become an indie author. A little background on you as a person is a way of humanising your work.
Branding is important. Email marketing material should always have the same branding. If you have a logo, use it in your marketing materials. Make sure everything you send out follows the same format in terms of colours, font, and layout. It may be helpful to create a template where you can drag & drop content.
Automate the Process
There are several popular software solutions that automate email marketing and give you more time to write. A good software package helps you craft emails and pick up more subscribers. It also allows you to monitor how successful your email marketing campaign is. After all, you don’t want to put time and effort into writing great emails, only to discover that most of them are ending up in the junk folder.
MailChimp and AWeber are two of the most popular software solutions, but do some research and read reviews before you invest.
It is worth signing up for email newsletters from popular authors. See how they do it and learn from them. Most popular authors have thousands of email subscribers, so they know what works – and what doesn’t.