Authors love email marketing because it gives them a direct communication channel with the people that read or will likely read their books.
Your readers share an affinity for your book genre and writing style, which makes marketing less about selling and more about creating a community. But for many authors, getting started can feel overwhelming when you see others with thousands of subscribers.
Don’t let that hold you back!
Instead of us telling you how to best tackle email marketing, we asked best-selling authors that use MailerLite to share their best practices. Here are their TOP 10 tips (as well as more bonus tips) to help you get started and build a successful email marketing campaign.
Author: Ann Omasta
For authors just starting with a mailing list, I know it can seem overwhelming, but it is absolutely doable and so worthwhile.
In less than a year, I have gone from having my mom and dog on my mailing list to over 30,000 subscribers. These subscribers have helped me form a street team, they follow my social media accounts, and they make my book launches more than me just shouting out to the ether that I have a new book available.
One thing that works well for me is to include a newsletter sign-up link in the front and back matter of every book. And of course, make sure a sign-up form is prominent on your website. These organic subscribers are your biggest fans.
Group giveaways on Prolific Works and BookFunnel (MailerLite has integrations with both of them) are another great way to get a group of subscribers. These subscribers may not yet know you or your writing, so give them some freebies and nurture them into fans.
Author: Elise Noble
I include sign-ups links in the back of all my books. I also sometimes offer a free short story in return for joining my list – these stories vary from 3k to 10k words and relate to the book they've just read.
Mailerlite's forms and automation are brilliant for this type of giveaway. I collect the reader's details on a landing page then use automation to send an email with the download link. I use BookFunnel for delivery, which works brilliantly.
Author: Anne R. Tan
Always remind a new subscriber how they got on your list, what to expect and make it easy for them to unsubscribe.
I don't like to do cash giveaways because I don't want subscribers on my list who just care about gift cards or other prizes. The only prizes I give away are e-copies of my books and the option to name a minor character in my stories.
Author: C.J. Pinard
Instead of the hard sell, it's best to do a giveaway or share free books for your first couple of campaigns. Gifting is a great way to say thank you for subscribing or being a loyal subscriber. Putting the posts together can be time-consuming, but worth your time. Make the post pretty and aesthetically pleasing.
Give stuff away at least once a month—or at least share a friend's giveaway. People like winning stuff!
Author: Ann Omasta
I offer 1 free book to readers for subscribing to my reader group, but then I send them 4 over a few weeks. In my automation emails, I hint that there are more great things coming, but I don't give specifics.
Subscribers like this approach and they stick around to see what else I'm going to give them.
Author: Ann Omasta
I want my subscribers to feel like they have the inside scoop on any freebies, sales, giveaways, etc.. I try to provide insider info on specials from other authors as well. I don't want to seem too sales-y, so my newsletter often includes information about book deals from author friends.
Rather than saying, "Please buy my book" over and over, I want my message to be, "I thought you might want to know about this awesome deal."
Author: Anix Nichols
Respond to every email and be respectful even if a reader is critical about your work. I recommend conducting surveys from time to time to ask for their help with your books such as naming, covers, titles, etc. (I often cover polls. The difference between the two options can be as small as the font type, but the readers enjoy having a say. And, the author benefits too, especially when there's a clear preference for one over the other.
Author: Elise Noble
Take advantage of all your email tools. I tend to send my newsletters fortnightly. On the weeks in between, I use the non-open data to send a different newsletter (a shorter one) to the people who didn't read the first. This seems to drop into a few extra inboxes and therefore makes the most of my list.
You can also try auto resend, which sends the same email but allows you to insert a personal message.
I also use the link-click tracking to work out roughly what percentage of my readers buy from each store. That can help me decide where to target advertising and also work out whether it's worth me going into KU or staying wide.
Author: Elise Noble
My advice for an author just getting started is to research what other writers are doing. What do you like? What don't you like?
Take those elements and give them your spin in your newsletters. Also, don't be afraid to ask your readers what they want too. A simple survey can provide loads of information, such as what genres they prefer, how often they like to receive newsletters and what kind of content they enjoy reading.
Author: Debbie Cassidy
To any author starting with email marketing, I'd say: relax.
Have fun and enjoy books together – ones you're writing and ones you are reading. Don't just sell, sell, sell, but get to know your readers and allow them to know you too. Use automation, but give it your personal touch and voice.
This article originally posted in 2017, and several other authors using MailerLite provided their own tips in the comment section. Here are a few ideas that we thought were excellent!
Author: Monica Burns
I keep it folksy. Readers want to know authors, not just what they have coming out. I share quite a bit of personal stuff with readers, triumphs, losses, etc. I'll do the occasional survey, and to the best of my ability, I keep it as a real newsletter. I do limited sale info and more of a newsletter where it's fun stuff. That helps with open rates from regular readers.
Author: Sarah Darlington
Lately, I feel like freebies are a dime a dozen. I like polls! I like excerpts! I like teasers! But not all at once, this going back to the short/sweet newsletter being my favorite. I like to know when a book goes live early. I like to know if a book hits the top of the charts. I really only want to hear from you about once a month.
Author: Meg Cowley
What works best for me is being myself! It can be scary to open up, but actually, the best responses I have had from my readers/customers have been when I have been 100% me. Apologizing for a mistake (like sending out an email with a broken link - it happens), or even sending them a picture of my cats and asking to see their pets. The emails that provoke a natural dialogue between readers and I are 100% my most favorite ways to communicate :)
Author: Bridgid Gallagher
A good welcome sequence (automation) makes a big difference, too. Not only does it help my readers get to know me (and vice versa), it's a great way to dole out info instead of dumping it all in one email. I think it helps readers create an association between you & your books. That way you're not a stranger popping up in their inbox, you're a recognized name/brand — and they get excited when they see your emails.
Author: Helen Scott
I survey my readers to find out how often they want to hear from me then with segmentation and a custom field I can e-mail them as often as they want. Some/most want to hear from me all the time, others only once a month, and still others only when I have a new release. They each get what they want that way
Editor’s note: This post was originally published in October 2017, but has been updated with new tips.
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Please share more ideas and experiences below.
I’m Ilma, COO at MailerLite. I love seeing our customers succeed. When they win, we win (like being named one of the top 5 fastest growing SaaS companies). Email is my passion, although I took a rather unusual path. Before MailerLite, I worked in finance and art, which turned out to be the perfect mix for marketing.