With that said, I'd highly recommend all authors start a newsletter of some variety. Because while it does take time, effort, and energy, it can generate some pretty positive results when you're on a shoestring budget.
|Don't spend money if it won't make you money, after all.|
This is a piece of advice that I resisted for a long time, because it just felt like so much work for a minimal amount of return. Now, of course, you can sign up for my weekly newsletter to make sure you don't miss any of my fresh releases!
Why the change? Well...
It's a Free Way To Avoid The Algorithm
At its core, a newsletter gives your readers a way to earmark your content, and to get it sent straight to their inboxes. This helps you form a supply line from your keyboard to their eyeballs, ensuring that they don't forget about you, or miss anything that's going on with your new releases, your convention schedule, etc. Because whether I've released a new book like my short story collection The Rejects or a novel like my cat noir mystery Marked Territory, or I've written a new article like 5 Tips For Creating Better Fantasy Towns and Cities, everyone on my newsletter finds out about this shiny new content in my weekly wrap-ups.
|At least 4 releases a week, every week.|
While my newsletter isn't the only place I talk about these things, it is the only place that's a direct line from me, to the audience. Social media and search engines are good tools to use to get discovered, but when you're at the mercy of the algorithm and random page refreshing you might find that only a small percentage of people actually see the posts you make. Which means either the posts fall through the cracks, or you need to repeat yourself pretty often. Whereas those who opt-in to your email list get a clear message right in their inbox to be certain they didn't miss anything.
I use Mail Chimp for my newsletter, and I'd recommend it as a good starting spot. It's free up to the point where you have several thousand people on your list, and at that point your newsletter should be generating enough revenue to more than pay for itself.
The Key is Growing Your List
As with anything else meant to boost your signal, the key is to get people to actually sign up. Sounds easy, but as we all know it can be anything but.
So how do you do it?
|I don't have ALL the answers... but here are some of them.|
First things first, promote that list on your existing platforms. If you scroll down the page, you'll see I have a static sign-up box below. I also linked the subscribe feature above in this very post, and it tends to show up in most blogs I write. If you have a blog, a YouTube channel, or anywhere else you share content, put this front and center so people can easily sign up. You can offer them an incentive as well, like a coupon or short-term perk, if you really want to drive your numbers.
Something else you can do from the comfort of your own home is that when you send out an existing newsletter, you'll get a link to display it. Share that link far and wide on your social media channels, and remind people who see it they can just hit the Subscribe button to sign up from that page. This is basically treating your newsletter as a piece of fresh content, and you'd be surprised at how often it works to bring new readers into the fold.
With the end of the pandemic in sight, you can also take your sign-up list to conventions and similar events once more. So if someone comes to your table and buys a book, or gushes about your setup, get them to leave you their name and email address. After a few days of networking, it's pretty common to have half a page to a page of new subscribers just waiting to be entered into your list.
Why You Need a Big List
You're going to need a big list. First and foremost because the more people you can reach out to, the further your signal travels, and the more attention your work gets. However, another reason is because while some folks are going to be active readers who devour everything you put out, others won't be. Some folks will honestly forget why they signed up, finding it easier to just delete your messages unopened instead of unsubscribing. Some will get caught in the spam filter, and go unseen. My personal experience is that 25-30 percent of folks on your list will be active readers, with a few folks getting caught by various shots as time goes on.
There doesn't seem to be a way to target only the rabid fans with this method, either. So cast that net, catch as many fish as possible, and understand that there's going to be occasional tires, license plates, and plastic bottles in there along with all the fish you were aiming for.
It might be frustrating, but the fish you did catch are still good. Throw that net enough times, and you'll soon have a hold full of readers ready and eager for more!
Like, Follow, and Stay Tuned!
That's all for this week's Business of Writing! If you'd like to see more of my work, take a look at my Vocal archive, or at My Amazon Author Page where you can find books like my noir thriller Marked Territory, my sword and sorcery novel Crier's Knife as well as my recent collection The Rejects!