Authors: Build Your E-mail List—NOW

Since April, I hear the drums getting louder and louder:

lists are the strongest tool in your marketing and promotion arsenal.

heard it from large publishers, from small publishers, from authors.
Here are three examples:

Small publisher
Sophia Institute Press
has a small and focused e-mail list of people who have purchased their
books or signed up for updates. I had the opportunity to meet Regina
Doman from Sophia, and she told a wonderful story of how, one day, the
press found themselves with a big shipment of returned books. The
solution? An e-mail to their list, with a special clearance on signed
copies. They sold out.

Author Dana Stabenow
During her
keynote at the Oklahoma Writers Conference, Dana mentioned the
importance and effectiveness of her e-mail list to fans. She said:

Remember this if you remember nothing else from my
speech tonight. It turns out that an active buy link in a newsletter
targeted at people who really want to get it is the most effective means
of selling your book.

read her full speech here.

A Large Publisher’s Advice to

At a BEA panel today about online community building, Kelly Leonard (executive
director of book marketing at Hachette) emphasized how critical it is
for authors to build an e-mail list, empower themselves, and grow their
audience—and not to depend on their publisher for it. Amen.

Plus This Breaking News!
You’ve probably read about JA
Konrath’s move to publish his next book directly with Amazon
marks the first big move by Amazon into traditional publishing.

big reason Konrath decided Amazon was his best publisher: Their wealth
of e-mail names and the metadata attached to those names (people’s book
buying history!).

So, why does every author (or every
brand-conscious, platform-focused writer) need a site or online
presence? To sign people up for a newsletter and collect names of people
who are interested in what they are doing.

Some people think e-mail is old-fashioned and not current. Quite the contrary. In fact, it could be considered another facet of social media.

What you want is an opt-in list. You only send your e-mails to people who have asked to hear from

How do
you start/send an e-mail newsletter? Here’s one place to get started.

I practice what I preach and started a newsletter using Google
Groups. (Go sign up here.)

You can go this route too, especially if you
don’t have anything in particular to send now. An e-mail
newsletter doesn’t have to be daily, weekly, or monthly. It can be once a
year, if you make it count. Just start capturing names today.

Then later use it in a way that’s helpful to the people you’re contacting—and
you’ll stay visible and remembered.

Don’t spam. Don’t shill.

Offer a service (and yes, reminders & announcements are excellent services). And share something meaningful.

credit: Mona Rocks … Not

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13 thoughts on “Authors: Build Your E-mail List—NOW

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  3. Kendra Bonnett

    Amen, Jane. I read a lot of book on selling by some of the biggest and most professional names in the business–Brian Tracy, Zig Ziglar, and Chet Holmes. I read these because I don’t consider myself a natural salesperson but I know that I need to sell myself and my books. I recommend the works (particularly the audiobooks) of any of these people because they are not hard-selling, used car types. These are pros.

    As an aside and before I get to my main point: They all say that you should believe in your product and actually feel sad/bad for the customer who doesn’t buy…because they are losing out. That should be your incentive to try harder with your next sale. I like that concept…and it changes the whole selling concept for me. Sales means helping customers.

    Okay, my point in support of your excellent post on email. All these great salesmen say that it takes many multiple "touches" to make a sale. Most (say about 90%) will try to connect with a prospect just once. And this is why the top 5-10 percent of sales people make 85 percent of the sales. (My numbers are from memory and may be off slightly, but not much. And you get the point.) We need to connect with our market multiple times. Some say 4-6 times, others say 8, and I’ve even read 12 times.

    Email is an excellent way to stay in touch by writing interesting, content-rich emails to those who have given you permission to contact them…by signing up (opting in) for something on your blogsite.

    Thanks, Jane. I always look forward to your posts.

  4. Jane Friedman

    @Aggie – Well, he HAS used their DTP to self-publish his backlist books, but this newest deal is for his next NEW project that traditional publishers turned down. Amazon will be publishing it under their Encore imprint in both print and electronic editions.

    All signs point to Amazon jumping into the full-fledged publishing business within 6 months – there are big deals in the works with other traditional authors.

  5. Sierra Godfrey

    Very cool advice. Very smart indeed.

    I would say that for unpublished writers, think about this: you’d better have a very strong web/blog platform before sending out newsletters, or people may not see the value.

    But the second you announce that book deal/agent signing — get people signed up.

  6. Christina Katz

    And very importantly, if you have not yet read Seth Godin’s "Permission Marketing," I would not even think of starting a newsletter without doing that first. If I could hand out a copy to every writer in the world, I would. (You’re welcome, Seth, for the testimonial.)


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