How did I build my mailing list?
As I am currently stuffing my newsletters with awesome books for swaps for ABOSAS release week, I found I’ve been asked this questions a few times.
In fact, two people asked me about this in the space of four days this week, so I thought I’d talk a bit about it here. Can I just say, I do not consider myself an expert on the subjects I discuss in Writer’s Corner, I am just commenting on what I have found and techniques I have used over the last eighteen months.
First of all one of these authors asked if it was really necessary to have a mailing list. Yes, it is. There are a few different reasons why, for example, a mailing list gives you access to people who are hopefully interested, or may become interested enough in your product to buy your work and support you long term. Having your own list gives you some independence from the giant that is Amazon. If Amazon suddenly decides they do not want indie authors on their platform any longer, or they decide you have broken their terms and conditions of use and delete your account, you have your own platform to sell from. It might be millions of times smaller but it will still benefit you.
I also use my mailing list to help other authors spread the word of their books. I do this mostly because I like helping other people but it also gives you an avenue to swap a spot on your list for one in theirs. You can reach other readers who may never otherwise hear about your book. It is also possible to sign up for platforms where you can charge for spots in your mailing list, so it can earn money for you that way too.
Where did I start? Well, initially I started by setting up my mailing list with Mailchimp’s free service. Many mailing list providers have a free service for upto around 1000 subs. I promoted my list via social media. I did get a few hundred sign ups but did not have a reader magnet at that time at all.
I then had my website finished www.karentomlinson.com and had sign up forms integrated to the home page. I also learned a bit more about reader magnets. There is oodles of info on the net about reader magnets so I’m going to skip over that here. What I will say is that I used the map from my Goddess and Guardians series as a PDF download for sign-ups. Most information about list building suggests a reader magnet, but it takes much time to write a decent book and at the moment my time and efforts are concentrated on finishing my fantasy series. I intend to write a novella for my mailing list but it won’t be yet.
I have read really shoddy and badly edited reader magnets that have completely made me lose interest in that author. Unless you can provide a properly edited, good story that will entice people towards your work, it is probably best to use something else.
I also used multi-author giveaways. My first big giveaway sign up was through Ripley’s book list. It was very successful. I joined various giveaways after that where entrants consent to join the authors’ mailing lists who are involved. I used my first book to join more giveaways and build my list.
This method of building your list is not without its own problems. I eventually found the readers being duplicated when I imported the sign up emails, so I took a break from various giveaways and haven’t done one since early last year.
It does cost money to join many organised giveaways and you need to research the host to ensure they are reputable and the emails you are getting have actually signed up to the giveaway and your list. Giveaways will become more difficult with the new European email laws but I guess that people will find a way to manage it. I intend to resubscribe all my sign ups and I expect to lose a vast amount, but it has to be done. When you have a list you need to manage it too, especially if your subscribers are not signing up via a form from your website or via a link in the back of your books. I will manage my list carefully and note where the sign ups come from. Different methods of sign ups will go onto different lists and those who have joined me via giveaways, I will use a further opt in link to ensure they comply with the new regulations.
I ended up with 34000 on my list from the first giveaways and this has had natural wastage over the past year or so. I now have 17532 on my list. I envisage this will reduce further in the next few months as I sort my list to be in compliance with the European law and those who don’t open it will be deleted from my list.
Remember that it is a cost to your business to have a mailing list. You will pay your provider a fee which is dependent on how many emails you send and subscribers you have. There is much advice on how to manage your list and it will make this post too long to go into that now. I have included some links to articles you may find interesting on this subject. As always I’m happy to answer any questions and help where I can.
If you are thinking of starting or changing your mail provider, this is my affiliate link for Mailerlite. Take a look around , I like MailerLite though there are other providers out there that other authors like more. At the end of the day it’s your choice and a case of finding what fits your needs.
Take care and keep writing…as will I. A steady run–not a sprint to success…(Lol, that’s what I keep telling myself anyway…)
Some reading material…
Joanna Penn: How Authors and Writers can build and email list
Alliance of Independent Authors
Reedsy-6 steps for Building Your MailingList