Direct email contact is the most sure way to get in front of potential readers. But how do you achieve it? One way is to build your own list of interested opt-in subscribers that you administer through an online application like Mailchimp or Constant Contact, through your friends and contacts, through your website and blog, through building social media contacts, and through encouraging visitors at your events to sign-up for your list. I’ve been working on mine since 2008. It’s a great list, but it has only 5500 subscribers. The most important thing you can do with this list once you’ve built it is NOT EMAIL IT. The fastest way to get unsubscribes is to bombard your list every week (God forbid every day) with stuff from you about your books. I have kept my list intact by emailing only 2-3 times per year, when I am announcing a new release. Any other news that I hope they’ll care about I include in one of those releases. This has been critical for me: it’s a way to reach thousands of people who care about my books and/or me when I want them to consider one of my new books.
Another way to achieve email contact is to buy a list. This idea doesn’t generally work, though. These people don’t have any connection to you, and often resent their contact information being sold.
Yet another is to run a promotion through a site with a large email following. BookBub is a great example of how effective this can be. It’s pricey, though—currently $750 to promote a 99 cent discount to their 2,350,000 subscribers— and they accept only about 20% of the applications they receive. They’ve picked my books They’ve picked my books six times in the last 15 months, and it’s wonderful, but they’ve turned me down more times than they’ve picked me. Bookbub is just one of many promo sites, but they’re currently the best. http://bookbub.com. Others I currently use frequently because of their great emailing lists: BookSends, Kindle Nation Daily, FreeBooksy, OHFB, and Books Butterfly. I was actually shocked at how effective my most recent Books Butterfly promotion was, and they’re a new addition to my “best of the web” promo sites list.
The last way is “free,” but it requires hard work and savvy, and that’s to get the sales sites to do your promotion for you, to their email lists. If you’re on the short list for advertising expenditures with a giant publishing company, this is a shoo-in. If you’re not at the top of their heap, you don’t get it because you ask for it or pay for it. You have to position yourself for their selection. One such way is the Kindle Daily Deal. Supposedly this is also something big pub can and does ask for. The rest of us haven’t figured out how to talk to humans at Amazon. But it’s a one-day 99 cent (usually) promotion of an ebook handpicked by Amazon. I think it goes without saying that this book is normally a well-reviewed book with a super cover that they expect to sell like gangbusters.
But there’s another way to show up on their lists, and it’s a list TAILORED to you, and that’s to put your next novel up two to three months before it’s due to be released, as a pre-order on Amazon. Check out this amazing email that Amazon sent to its customers last week, about the pre-order for my next novel, especially the text boxed in red.
Holy Mother Goose and Grimm, right? They actually send these out. Ever heard the expression from popular advertisements of lotteries, “You can’t win if you don’t play?” Well, yeah. That’s how it works with Amazon emails about pre-orders, too. Now, if only five souls have downloaded your books on Kindle, this won’t mean much, but t’s still better than nothing. If you’ve sold books to someone on Kindle in the past, Amazon knows who they are and has their email address, and they’re willing to send them an email about you and you alone to encourage them to buy your books again. YOU don’t have access to those emails. YOU don’t know who those people are. The only entity in the world capable of reaching them is Amazon. And that is why I am recommending that you absolutely, positively do not fail to put your novels up for pre-order on all sites. Not all of them do this, but there’s cross-over interest on other sites when these emails get forwarded, or when they go to someone who’d prefer to buy on Nook next time, etc.
Some of the people on Amazon’s “Pamela Fagan Hutchins” list are on mine, too, and/or they’re on BookBub or Books Butterfly or some other promo site as well. And guess what? That means they may hear about your book two or three times during your promotional push for your new release. And it takes most people multiple exposures to your book before they act, if they ever will. This early shot across the bow by Amazon sets your new release email to your opt in subscriber list and your first big promo with someone like Books Butterfly up for even greater success.
I’m putting Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos on my holiday gift basket list for next year. That email about went out last week to, oh, about 500,000 people. Squee! (You can reserve a pre-order copy of the e-book version of Heaven to Betsy (Emily #1), a Katie & Annalise spin-off mystery series, anywhere online, if you want. Like Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Noble Nook, Apple iBooks, Google Play, Kobo, or Smashwords.)
And you can get tips like this and more in the JUST UPDATED (January 2015) What Kind of Loser Indie Publishes, and How Can I Be One, Too? ebook. If you purchased it previously, just update your books on your device to get the latest version.
Pamela Fagan Hutchins writes award-winning and bestselling romantic mysteries and hilarious nonfiction, chairs the board of the Houston Writers Guild, and dabbles in employment law and human resources investigations from time to time. She is passionate about great writing, smart authorpreneurship, and her two household hunks, husband Eric and one-eyed Boston terrier Petey. She blogs on writing, publishing and promotion at Skip the Jack and on her beleaguered family, and much-too-personal life at Road to Joy. She also leaps medium-tall buildings in a single bound (if she gets a good running start). Check out her USA Best Book Award winning new novel, Going for Kona, available now, everywhere.