If you happened upon my year in review post, you probably noticed that I learned how to build an author email list during the second half of 2017. I get a lot of questions through this blog and via my Facebook group on how to do this, so I’m starting a new marketing series that will cover the topic.
I’ll try to break this down into easy steps. I remember when first starting how confusing it all seemed, and that there were so many ‘gotcha’ moments that led to a crap ton of unnecessary headache and heartache because I just didn’t understand certain terms.
So with that said, let’s get started.
You’ll need a reader magnet.
It’s a free book you use as bait/to entice someone onto your email list.
“But Lucille, I don’t want to give away my work for free! Do you know how many hours I put into toawejtaoinalesnoaieoaej *dry heaves*”
Look, I know. It hurts to give away free work AT FIRST but bear with me. It’s actually in your best interest to do so. And I’m not advocating you give away a novel. Just a short story of around at least 5,000 words, maybe a little longer. My current reader magnet is 11,000 words. My next one will be around 7,000.
(I’m not going to get into how to best go about editing, covering, blurb-writing the reader magnet. I’m just going to tell you how to build the list.)
“But, Lucille, why do I need a reader magnet? Can’t I just use a landing page and people will just be all generous and shyte and hand over their email address just cuz?”
Well, I suppose you could do that. But, that isn’t really an effective list building strategy. People really don’t want to hand over their email address without getting something in return. As an author, what can you give them in return? You can give them a nice little story as a sample of your work. That way, they see what they are getting with your brand.
So anyway, you’ve got your reader magnet all shiny and ready to go. What next?
You need to choose an email provider service. You’ve probably heard of them – Mailchimp, AWeber, Mailerlite, etc.
Personally, I recommend Mailerlite for several reasons. Their prices are competitive, they –
“Ah hem, Lucille, what’s this about prices? I’m a starving writer! How in the Sam hill do you expect asjnflasnoajnfjlsnfjsndfjsdn *hyperventilates, opens wallet: moth flies out*”
Relax. Mailchimp, and Mailerlite offer the first 1000 subscribers free. After that, Mailerlite is your more economical option at ten dollars a month from 1,000 subs to 2500 subs.
Anyway, say you choose Mailerlite. What next?
You need to host your own domain.
If you aren’t doing this already, that is foolish. You really should have your own website domain as an author. So lets say that you aren’t foolish and you have one.
The reason you want one is because the email service providers (that would be Mailerlite) have to comply with strict anti-spam laws. If your email that you use to send out from ends in a gmail.com or a yahoo.com or pretty much any of those endings like you are just a regular Joe Schmo, your emails are more likely to end up in a spam folder. If you send out enough of these (like through an author newsletter) Mailerlite or Mailchimp really hate that, and they will freeze your account, thinking you are an evil spam pirate ninja annoyance of the high seas of email.
Please don’t ask me how I have first hand experience of this.
Anyway, you really need to get your own hosted domain. Gmail offers this kind of service. You can set up your own hosted domain through gmail so you’ll have a nice, shiny “JoeSchmoAuthor@JoeSchmo.com to send your author emails from.
For example, my domain is moncriefs.net. I used Gmail to set up my own domain hosted email. It is firstname.lastname@example.org. It looks all professional and all anti-spam compliant.
If you do this in the beginning, you will save yourself a bunch of headache down the road with the email service providers like Mailchimp or Mailerlite. Here is an article that explains how to do this through gmail, and you can also go to Youtube for a handy video on how to set this up. Just search for “custom domain email set up with Bluehost” or whoever you are using to host your domain.
Stay tuned for Part Two, where I will make a noble attempt at explaining what to do with the reader magnet once you have all this email-service-provider-scaffolding in place.