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  • [She Self-Publishes] Email Marketing for Authors
[She Self-Publishes] Email Marketing for Authors
Written by
Emily Suess
February 2013
Written by
Emily Suess
February 2013

As an author, you'll probably hear a lot about email marketing. Like social media, it's seen as one of the essential marketing tools for promoting your current books, your future works, and building your personal brand and author platform.


In fact, email marketing is arguably more effective than any string of Tweets or Facebook updates you post, no matter how clever. Email newsletters are less likely to be missed and are a more dependable way for you to engage your readers and get them to take action.


Chances are you've received dozens of marketing emails before, if not from your favorite authors then from your favorite restaurants, department stores, or maybe even your car dealership. What you'll notice if you look closely at these messages is that in every case the sender is using email marketing to achieve multiple goals:


  • Build relationships. Email marketing is about way more than just selling another book (although, sales is a part of the equation—more on that in a second). It's about sharing and engagement, and if all you do is try shoving a book purchase down your recipient's throat? Well, your list will shrink—swiftly.
  • Sell a little bit more. Set sales goals that have less to do with numbers and more to do with your fan base and loyalty. Show each member on your list why they'll want to stick around. Email marketing is one of the best ways to keep readers informed about forthcoming releases, promotions, and events.
  • Get feedback. Whether you measure clicks, offer a poll, or ask readers to respond to a prompt, you can learn what people want if you just ask them. And when you give people what they want, you're going to like the results. 


What service should you use?


There are a lot of options out there: MailChimp, Emma, Delivra, Constant Contact, and others are all just a web search away. Look them over and pick a mail delivery system that makes email marketing easy for you. Many offer free trails for new or small accounts, so you can give the system a test drive before you spend any money.


Who should you send the emails to?


Only send emails to people who request to be put on your list. Spamming people's inboxes isn't going to win you any hearts. And it's illegal. (Make sure you read up on the CAN-SPAM Act if you're not familiar.


How can you build your list?


  • Include a sign-up form on your website
  • Share links to your newsletter sign up on social media
  • Let people know about the benefits of being a subscriber
  • Add social share links to your newsletter content
  • Ask for fans to sign up at book signings, readings, conferences and other events
  • Offer an incentive for signing up (sneak peak at an upcoming project or a free short story perhaps?)


What should you write about?


The content for most newsletters fits into one of two categories: news and information or promotional content. To determine what you'll write about for each installment, set up an editorial calendar. (You're only wasting time if your Memorial Day promotion arrives in inboxes the second week of June, right?)


No matter what you put in your newsletter, make it interesting. Here are a few content ideas if need some inspiration:


  • Book release announcements
  • Event announcements (like signings or library readings)
  • Excerpts from your next story
  • A noteworthy review of your latest work
  • Quotes and facts about writing
  • Interviews with other authors
  • Interviews with your fictional characters
  • Historical or factual tidbits related to your work
  • Excerpts and links to content on your blog


Newsletters don't have to be long. In fact, one main feature and a couple of announcements might be all you need to keep your fans engaged. So don't let the time commitment of launching an email marketing campaign intimidate you.


How often should you send them?


Once a month is very common, but there are no hard and fast rules. You could send them once a week, every other week, quarterly, or just when you've got something new to announce. The only wrong answer here is to send them so frequently that you irritate your readers and trigger mass unsubscribing.


Do you already utilize email marketing as an author? Please share a link to your most recent issue in the comments!

Photo credit: hoefi

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  • Karyne Corum

    I may not be at the point where I can fully utilize all this fantastic information, but it's wonderful to have an advance screening of what I'll need to know.  Thanks for the excellent overview, Emily.