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In previous installments I covered:
- Dos and don'ts of Twitter marketing,
- "99c is the new Free", and
- The BookBub "Roller Coaster."
For an excellent overview about book marketing, I commend to your attention this article posted on the BTSEMag blog by DP Denman. My favorite bit:
"Marketing isn’t about sales. Weird, eh? Think about it. When you see a commercial on television, how often are you in a position to buy what they’re selling at the same time? Unless they’re talking about pizza and wings, not very often.
Marketing is about building name recognition that eventually leads to sales." (emphasis mine)
Email is yet another form of getting the word out about your books, and there are many ways to go about it, free as well as paid. In Part 6 of Marketing 101 for Authors, currently planned for next week, I will share my experiences with paid email book marketing venues other than BookBub. Today I'm here to discuss:
Free Email Marketing
A publicist I had hired a decade ago to help promote my second NY-published novel, Liberty, had a saying that went something like this:
Marketing requires three elements:
skill, money, and time.
What you lack in one element,
you must make up for by exercising the other two.
Jo-Ann is no longer in the PR business, but her words continue to guide me, and I hope they resonate with you too.
If you lack the money to hire folks to market your book, you cannot just ignore the promoting and hope for the best. That's how I found myself having to rebuild my audience from scratch in 2013 when I decided to dive into the shark tank that is Independent Publishing.
Trust me on this point: you need to pour your own time into self-promotion, and become adept at using the requisite software tools, if necessary.
The most obvious form of free email marketing is for you to distribute your own newsletter. Rather than reinventing that particular wheel, I direct your attention to my earlier blog post about The Author Newsletter.
I still email my monthly newsletter, The Dawnflier, via Mail Chimp (the free version) as well as to a list of several hundred contacts who have not yet elected to switch over. In it I usually share exclusive content with my subscribers, as well as giving them updates about my books, upcoming tours, giveaways, and personal appearances. If you would like to join them, I would be delighted, thanks! The signup link is HERE.
As mentioned in that post about newsletters, I experienced a bit of a learning curve to develop my HTML-based newsletter design. That curve flattened once I discovered the "save as template" option, however. Now I call up my newsletter's template, replace the text and photo(s) as necessary, and then overwrite the previous month's template. This trick is particularly useful for reporting information about upcoming appearances, and blog tours whose signup periods can span several months.
BookBub offers 98 Book Marketing Tips, of all types and stripes. Tip #10 applies to the topic of the author newsletter:
10. Welcome new subscribers with an email autoresponse. When people subscribe to updates from you via your website, send them a welcome email including either a link to a permafree ebook, sample chapters, or some sort of freebie as a “thank you” for signing up.
This is something I confess I need to get set up, since I do have a permafree title, The Color of Vengeance, that I can offer to new subscribers!
Free Email Marketing Other Than Your Own Newsletter
I am disappointed to report that the list of sites offering free email book marketing is dwindling rapidly.
Many sites have either excruciatingly long (on the order of 6 months) queues for their free email promo opportunities, have converted to paid advertising only, or have disappeared altogether.
One that falls into the latter category deserves special mention here.
HarperCollins did a stellar job of shafting thousands of indie authors by buying the huge mailing list that had been built by The Midlist, which the publishing giant now uses exclusively for promoting their own authors. I was fortunate enough to have discovered—and had several of my books selected for free promotion by—The Midlist last year prior to the buyout. Those free promos netted me dozens of paid downloads and pushed my books to Amazon "bestseller" status for a day or two after their promotion each time. I mourn its loss.
Since the list for "free email book promotions" is an ever-changing one, I invite you to run an Internet search of that phrase. I will list two that don't seem to be going anywhere any time soon, both of which are geared toward romance readers and authors:
- Romance Lives Forever blog run by Kayelle Allen
- Romance Readers Club (if you can schedule your free promo 6 months in advance)
Another option—not technically free, but it entails a one-time cost so it should pay for itself sooner rather than later—is to purchase the "KDROI" (Kindle Direct Return on Investment) browser plugin offered by 5MinutePublishing.com. The direct link to the software is HERE, though the site may require you to sign up for their newsletter (and I do apologize for that annoyance) before you can establish an account with them.
I've found KDROI to be well worth any momentary annoyance, however, since it allows me to schedule free, permafree, and 99-cent promos with around two dozen sites at a clip.
If you have experienced memorable results via free email promotions, please leave a comment; we would all love to hear about them!
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