Authors: Build Your E-mail List—NOW

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

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

I've
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.

Go
read her full speech here.

A Large Publisher's Advice to
Authors

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
—which
marks the first big move by Amazon into traditional publishing.

A
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.

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

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.

Photo
credit: Mona Rocks ... Not