Right now, I have a readers list (mailing list, email list, whatever you’d like to call it) of just over 2000 readers. At the beginning of June 2017, my list was 12.
I used a number of different ways to bring this list up to those numbers:
I have a paid Instafreebie account which costs me around $25 per month. ($20 US). Without a paid account you cannot collect e-mail addresses – and since that was the reason I opened the account, I coughed up the money. I also have a BookFunnel account where I use the free option to send ARCs, prizes and things where collecting the e-mail address doesn’t matter.
Loaded up on Instafreebie, I have two short books (around 12K each) that I use as reader magnets – one historical romance and the other contemporary romance. If you do not have a short book, you can use the first couple of chapters from an existing book. I found that providing a partial book provided as many responses as a self-contained book did. Personally, I HATE getting only part of a book! But obviously my preference isn’t the normal one of voracious readers!!
Just putting a book up on Instafreebie won’t bring readers marching to your door. You have to find GROUP INSTAFREEBIE GIVEAWAYS to be involved with.
Instafreebie has a forum for Group Giveaways. Organisers list a giveaway they are running, the author responds by filling in a form providing the organiser with their information. The author is usually required to promote the giveaway to their mailing list and their FB or Twitter followers. Personally, I haven’t had much success with the giveaways listed on the forum.
I’ve had more success following the Facebook groups Authors Group Giveaway Meeting Place, The Author Support Network, and (at the time) Authors with Under 1000 Email Subscribers Support Group. I also ran a quick Google search for Instafreebie Group Giveaway opportunities.
When I found an opportunity I was interested in, I just filled out the form. Easy as that. Well, except also that I had to diarise that I needed to promote the giveaway. The best ones I’ve done have been through Suzanne Jenkins (who runs the Meeting Place FB group). They are usually free, however sometimes the organisers ask if you would drop in $20 for marketing. I generally pay if they are asking for marketing dollars, however there is usually no obligation to do so. If your budget is REALLY tight, you wouldn’t have to. The Brazen Bookshelf promo I did cost me $27.96AUD.
Before I go on to the juicy results of my group giveaways, I want to talk a little about e-mail automation. I use MailerLite because I could have 1000 subscribers free, and the cost for additional subscribers up to 2500 is only $10US a month. Also I found their automation process really easy to use. (Note, I am not affiliated with MailerLite, I just like them 🙂 )
Email automation is the series of emails you will send out to recipients of the group giveaway. Lots of people are scared of email automation, but it is one of the easiest things I’ve ever done!!
My FIRST EMAIL is sent 3-4 days following the person getting my giveaway. It usually says something like:
IMPORTANT: See how I’ve made it sound like I’m chatting to a friend. THAT IS THE TONE YOU WANT TO ACHIEVE. If your emails sound like you are addressing business correspondence, or they do not speak directly to individuals, they will only tick people off. That is my Rule No. 1. Write all automation emails as if you are speaking to an individual and a friend.
My second email is usually sent another 3-4 days after the first one, AND SAYS NOTHING ABOUT THE FREEBIE THEY GOT (except the picture of it is still there). That’s right. We’re not going to hassle them about that any more. What we ARE going to do is ask their opinion on something. The purpose of email no. 2 is to get people to interact with you. The reason behind this purpose? So that they see you as a person and not just the faceless writer behind the book. My second email usually resembles this one:
Again, written to individuals and in a friendly tone. This time the headline is important. The headline on the above email, that shows up on the person’s email list, is “[Name], I’m making it all about you.” People like to be thought of as people, instead of just the faceless masses that you hope are reading your stories. Work with this!!
The results I’ve had from this type of email are awesome. Not only do I have a bunch of people sending me a single word response, I’ve had people send me questions, tidbits about themselves, and many, many thankyous. I respond to the ones who give more than a one word response. There are only a handful of them, and they take very little time to respond to – but I think if someone has taken the time to reach out to me, I should acknowledge them. It’s only polite, and reinforces their belief that I see them as a person, not just a potential sale.
After the second email, they scoot off into my newsletter subscribers group and start to receive my monthly newsletter.
Ryan Zee Promotions
I did a paid promotion with Ryan Zee promotions – known to the public as Booksweeps. It was a contest to win 30+ historical romance books, plus a Kindle Fire. It cost me $60US. The good thing about a Ryan Zee promo is that they provide you with a bunch of pre-written FB posts, Twitter posts and the like so you can easily promote. Yes, you still have to promote it. The bad thing is, it cost me $60US. And while that works out to less than 10 cents per email address received, I can do free ones that work just as well as this did.
So, which promotions worked the best? I have had success with all of the ones I’ve done, but since some of them were free, I would have to say they worked the best 🙂 But here are the numbers from the various promotions that I did:
|Brazen Bookshelf||The Viscount’s Valentine||June/July||627||53|
|Suzanne Jenkins||The Hidden Duchess (partial)||July||736||31|
|Ryan Zee||The Hidden Duchess (partial)||July||734||12|
|Suzanne Jenkins||Sax in the Park||August||411||19|
Are they ENGAGED subscribers?
This is probably the most important question to answer – are these subscribers actually engaged, listening readers? Or have they already moved my name to the spam folder, so my emails are instantly trashed? Looking at my statistics, I had an open rate (the number of emails where MailerLite recorded the email as being opened) of around 50 percent, however last month that dropped down to around 35 percent. The answer is: Maybe 🙂 There are apparently around 10 percent of people who don’t read the email in a way that would allow MailerLite to count it, so I ~think~ I’m looking at around a 45 percent open rate. Not great, but not terrible either.
My email list brought me 25 pre-sales on my novel The Unwilling Smuggler in August. Around 1.25 percent of recipients.
For my purposes, these are acceptable engagement statistics. Of course, I’d like them to be better, and in a couple of months time when I find a spare moment, I will send an email to those who appear not to be opening and specifically ask them if they wish to stay on the list, so that I can cull the ones who really shouldn’t be there. I’m certain I will lose around 500 recipients at that time – which is fine. If they don’t want to hear from me, I don’t really want to pay for the ‘opportunity’ to have them sitting on my list!
How to get ENGAGED subscribers on your list.
This is from one of the Indie Author Gurus, Chris Fox, who wrote the books Write to Market and Launch to Market, amongst a bunch of others:
He wrote a short story specifically as a reader magnet to go in the back of his first book in a series. Just a short thing that answered a narrative question from the first book (in his case, what happened to bring the guy to the derelict ship in the first place?) He provided access to that book via a reader providing their email address.
That makes so much sense to me. You get people who have read your first book to give you their email to read another book in your series. Aren’t these guys the readers who are the most likely to read the second book when it comes out?? Of course they are! You’ve had them read TWO of your books!! They are mostly hooked. They would be the ultimate engaged subscribers.
Why haven’t I done this? Because Chris Fox gets thousands of reads on his books. I get tens. I would be lucky to gain two or three email addresses from the exercise. But if you are selling well, this would be a great way to make sure you are only getting engaged readers for your list – and keeping it down under the paid threshold!!
I haven’t engaged in any newsletter swaps, so I can’t comment on how effective they are. Personally, I hate author newsletters that are peppered with ads for other people’s books. And I don’t offer space in mine because I don’t want to piss my readers off with ads for other people’s books. But that might just be me. Other authors swear by them. Perhaps I am missing out on a huge opportunity there. I don’t know. I’m happy for you to educate me, if you know better!
If you are just starting out and want to increase the numbers of eyes on your emails, Instafreebie promos are a great way to go. For now. It is September 2017. In another couple of months or a year or so, there will probably be a seismic shift in the way things are done, and these won’t be useful any more at all!! That is what seems to be happening in the Indie author world – things change at a rapid pace. But for now, this works. Is it a load of work that takes time away from writing? Yes. But if you wish to make money from writing, you need an email list. And these strategies worked well for me.