One of the best ways to sell more books is to build a relationship with your audience. Once they engage with you, your stories, and your characters, readers are much more likely to continue to buy your work, and will become lifelong fans, just waiting for your next publication.
A great way to communicate with your readers is by email.
You can set up a form on your website to capture visitors’ email addresses. Then you will be able to keep in touch, and build your relationship with them. Here’s how to do it:
Building your list of subscribers
You want to capture as many email addresses as possible from the visitors to your website. This means you’ll be able to get in contact with your fans and readers to let them know when your next book is launching. In turn, you should generate more sales.
Think about it – what’s the easiest way to let your fans know your next book is ready? Just email them to tell them. Like Netflix or Amazon do with a new TV or book series release. Once your email lands in your reader’s inbox, they’ll know your book is available to buy.
Not just that, but if you have a direct line of communication with your readers, it takes away your reliance on another platform, like Amazon, for driving sales. If you choose to further down the line, you could sell your books directly to your readers through your website.
Some things to consider:
You can only email people who have given their permission to do so. Readers need to actively input their email addresses into your website for you to able to email them. If you add people to your list without their permission, and email them, you’ll be sending them spam.
You should also only email people with information relevant to the subject they’ve signed up for ie – content related to you and your books.
Always allow people to unsubscribe from your emails if they chose. If you use an email system like Mailchimp or Aweber, the unsubscribe link will always be included at the bottom of the emails you send.
Add a form to your website
This is just a sign-up box where visitors can add their name and email address, and the details are captured by the email system you are using.
We recommend Aweber’s email marketing software. It’s easy to use and set up, and inexpensive.
Aweber will provide you with some HTML code which you add to your website. Then, when someone completes the form details with their name and email, this is stored in a database in the Aweber software. This becomes your list of people you can send emails to. Aweber allows you to create emails, and customise their design and wording.
The ideal place to add the form is the top right hand side of the page, as this is the first place people look when they visit web pages. And if possible, have the form on every page of your website, to increase the likelihood of your visitors seeing it.
Think about how you want to email people
You should send people a ‘welcome’ email as soon as they sign up, to say thanks, and let them know the type of information you’ll be sending them.
Then, there are a couple of ways you can communicate with them:
1. Send regular, scheduled emails
This is known as an ‘autoresponder’, and means you prepare a series of emails, and they get sent on an automatic basis, at the same set intervals for each subscriber.
For example, if Danielle signs up, she will receive ‘thank you’ email one, then you can schedule email two to be sent in 7 days time, email three to be sent 5 days later, etc etc. When Harry signs up, he will receive exactly the same emails in the same order, with the same time-span between each email.
- You will be able to keep in regular contact with your fans. They will become familiar with receiving your emails, and look forward to getting them. The chances are more people will open your emails, and engage with the content.
- You need to be organised and create a ‘bank’ of several emails at a time. If you can dedicate a chunk of time to the set up, it’s well worth it, as you can then forget about manually sending emails for a period of time.
2. Send emails on a random basis
These are known as ‘broadcast’ emails, and means you send an email out to your entire list whenever you feel like you have something to say to them.
- There’s less planning and scheduling involved than in setting up an autoresponder.
- It’s is an easy way to let readers know about new book launches or events.
- Later subscribers to your list will not receive every email, they’ll only receive the ones you’ve sent since they signed up.
- If people aren’t used to receiving your emails, they are less likely to open them.
- Without dedicating time to writing and sending emails, this task may come low down your ‘to do’ list.
There’s little point in having a list of fans if you never contact them. So be honest with yourself about how likely you are to send broadcast emails on a regular basis. If you don’t think you will, we’d recommend setting up an autoresponder.
Ideas for what to put in your emails
Stuck for email content ideas? Don’t be, there are loads of things you can email your fans about. Here’s just a few ideas:
1. Articles about the subject matter you write about.
For example, if you write supernatural thrillers, you could link to articles online about supernatural events in the press. Or if you write about romance, discuss a lighthearted feature you’ve read in magazine about relationships.
2. Character development.
Try to bring your characters to life for your readers. This will really help them engage with your story. Discuss and develop your characters in your emails.
3. Keep your fans up to date with the progress on your new book.
You could tease them with a photo of your latest manuscript taking shape, or a shot of some scenery which is the setting for your new release.
4. News about your writing.
Let people know about new releases, book signings etc.
5. Your reading recommendations and advice, and writing experiences and discoveries.
Discuss books you have read and would recommend, new releases in your genre, and even book covers that have caught your eye. Tell your readers what inspires you to write, what influences your stories, and how you develop as a writer.
Incentive readers to sign up to your list
If you give people something free, they’re much more likely to sign up to receive news from you.
There are loads of things you could offer to interest your audience:
- Access to exclusive content about your next book
- A free download of a chapter of your current book or new release
- A free invitation to your next event
- A personal critique of an excerpt of their own writing (if you have the time to offer this)
See what other ideas you can think of, the more appropriate and appealing to your reader, the better.
Add a link to your list inside the back of your books
When readers have just finished one of your books, they’re poised to keep consuming as much content about the book and the author as possible.
They’re emotionally connected to the story; happy they found out the ending, sad it’s all over, and on the edge of their seat for the next instalment if your book’s a series.
So the back page is a great place to ask people to sign up to your list. You can do this in both your print book and ebook version.
Do you have any more tips and ideas for successful email marketing? Tell us about your experiences in the comments section below.
We’re Peter and Caroline O’Connor. Creating beautiful book cover designs for authors all over the world is our passion. Every author should be able to benefit from a beautiful book cover design (not just the lucky few who get signed by a big publisher). We design, podcast, and coach authors full-time so we understand your struggles. Currently accepting new clients.