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Managing a Reviewer Mailing List

Reviewer mailing list: maintaining your own list of avid readers

We’ve spent a few blog posts talking about newsletters, book reviewers, and street teams. Today, we’d like to talk about a combination of both of them–your reviewer mailing list. For self-publishers looking to make a bigger splash on release day, having one is key.

Why Build a List?

Your reviewer mailing list is simply a group on your regular author newsletter profile dedicated solely to handing out review copies of your books. You can set aside a different brand for this list, or keep it the same as the rest of your newsletter. (We recommend the former) Every time you get a book ready for review, you’ll send it out to your list. We’ll talk technical how-to a little further down.

Why should you maintain your own list of reviewers? First of all, if you find a reviewer who likes what you put out, why not keep that resource nearby? Given enough releases, and enough reviewers, you could have a robust list of hundreds of loyal followers. Also, as any author will tell you, reviews are very hard to come by. Asking people to jot down a few thoughts can sometimes feel like pulling teeth. Growing a big list is part of that numbers game–the more folks who have review copies, the more reviews you’ll get.

Clean Regularly

There are always readers who like getting free books for nothing in return. Therefore, keep good records of your book reviewers, including who’s leaving reviews on big box sites. If you find you’ve sent a book to someone and they haven’t ever posted a review, yank ’em off your list.

Keep in mind, however, that not all reviewers like the same books. Especially if you write in different genres, a young adult fantasy might be better received than an adult space opera. Segmenting your reviewer mailing list into which genres they like can also help cut down on sending books to the wrong folks–and give you better metrics on how well your list is performing.

How to Deliver a Review Copy

There are several different options for you. The first, and easiest, is to use a third party solution like Instafreebie, BookFunnel, or BookSprout. There, you’ll be able to upload your ARC and make it available to just your reviewers list (or even to others, if you so choose). There’s a fee associated with some of the programs, but you won’t have to deal with uploading and managing ARCs.

If you’re a little more technically savvy, you may want to consider adding your ARCs to your website and using a plug-in. We prefer to use Delightful Downloads here at SGR-Pub, combined with a MailerLite automation. Users sign up for our reviewer mailing list, they receive a welcome email with a link to review plus a password. We add links to all three formats (Kindle, ePub, PDF) to keep our reviewers happy.

How to manage your reviewer mailing list

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Newsletter Swaps: An Easy, Free* Way To Market Your Book

Newsletter swaps: a great, free* way to market your book

In 2018, one of the hot, new ways to market your book is by building your newsletter email lists. The idea being email is far from dead, and is in fact one of the most effective ways to market. And many authors have banded together to do what’s known as a newsletter swap. In short, it is what it sounds like: you promote theirs, they promote yours, everybody wins. But how does one go about getting into these things?

Step 1: Set Up a Newsletter

Newsletter swaps are a great way to expand your reachOkay, this is where that free* part comes in. The very first step to a newsletter swap is to make sure you have a list to swap with in the first place. So you’ll want to take some time to build your author newsletter. But of course, you’re already doing that, right?

MailChimp and MailerLite are both excellent options (we use the latter). Both do offer free plans, however, you’re limited in the number of subscribers you can have. So you may have to pay a little bit in order to get to the higher numbers.

Step 2: Grow Your Subscribers

If you’ve got ten folks on your newsletters, sorry to say that probably nobody’s going to want to promote your book on their list of 10,000. Where’s the benefit to them, right?

Once you’ve got a baseline newsletter, grow your subscribers. You should take care to grow smartly; after all, ten thousand email subscribers who don’t buy anything isn’t worth much, right? The best way to grow your subscriber base is to give away a free eBook in exchange for a newsletter. Instafreebie is a great source, as is Bookfunnel. Or, for a cheaper option, you can set up a download plug-in on your wordpress site and send people there via your mailing list landing page. (Don’t know how to do that? Contact us for a quote!)

Step 3: Join an Author Groups

Get all the newsletter swaps!Most authors these days find swaps via Facebook Groups. Nowadays, there’s a group for every genre and niche out there. Get a feel for what the list sizes are for authors and what they’re looking for in response. Where you can fit in, offer to swap.

Step 4: Schedule Your Own Promotion

It’s a good idea to figure out a system to manage promotions so you don’t forget anyone. We’re big fans of Google Docs and Forms as an entry form. Just make sure you keep track of who’s supposed to share what on what day, and the same for your own.

Step 5: Keep Growing

Post a link to your free book in your book’s back matter. Sign up for newsletter builders with other authors. Keep growing your list with avid readers who want what you’re putting out there. Not only will you continue to qualify for larger swaps, but you’ll be cultivating a list of readers that you own, and you won’t have to pay one red cent to access them.


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How to Sell Book Sequels – Book 2 and Beyond

How to sell book sequels - book 2 and beyond

Believe it or not, it’s a lot easier to sell the first book in a series. It’s new! It’s fresh! It’s coming soon!  But when it comes to book 2 and beyond, many authors find themselves coming up short. Some of them try to recreate the magic of book 1 by doing the same thing for book 2. Others just hope that they’ll get follow-on sales from readers. Below, you’ll find our best tips for how to sell book sequels to guide your marketing strategy

A Different Animal

How to sell book sequels: Remember you're marketing to both new and existing readersFirst, recognize that when you’re releasing a sequel, you are actually doing two marketing campaigns simultaneously: First, you’re back to the drawing board selling book 1 to new readers (with the promise that they can also read book 2). Second, you’re trying to recapture the readers who were excited about book 1, but have moved on.

That changes your strategy a bit, doesn’t it?

Finding New Readers

Instead of approaching your external audience with your second book, approach them with much of the same content you created with book 1. Obviously, this requires using different bloggers and whatnot as you had with your first go-round. Tweak the content to mention that the second book is arriving soon.

This is also the time when you should drop the price of book 1 to an enticing $0.99 (for a second book release) or even permafree (for book 3 and beyond). Even if it’s temporary, it will help draw those new readers in, who will then go on to preorder the second book. Because it is up for preorder, right?

You can also use this time to experiment with other channels you might have ignored in the first push. Play around with Facebook Ad or Amazon Ads. Remember: You’re selling a product you have in hand, so that means people will be more eager to put down cash for something they can get right away.

Additionally, eBook ads are a great way to utilize that price drop, especially on book 2’s release day.

Recapturing the Old Readers

Once you’ve got all your content re-scheduled for capturing those new readers, it’s time to focus on your existing readers. When the second book comes up for preorder, do a newsletter blitz. If you’ve got the budget, offer some swag or gift for folks who send you a receipt of their preorder on Amazon or elsewhere.

Don’t forget about your street team, who are your ready readers and reviewers. Hand out early copies to get some review buzz going Goodreads. Remind them to cross-post their reviews of book 1. While you’re offering swag or gifts for preorders, run a street team competition for your group if they do certain things (such as sharing content or commenting on Facebook posts).

Measuring Success

How to sell book sequels: Remember, it takes two or three books for a series to take off in indie publishingOften times, your first book will do better than the rest in the series in the outset. But when it comes to indie publishing, we’ve found that the sales curve is more exponential than bell. Therefore, just because you don’t have a gangbuster first week of sales, doesn’t mean you won’t get more as the weeks go on. Our experience is that it takes three books (and a permafree first book) for a series to really take off. Even with all this promotion, there will still be people, weeks from release day, who say, “Oh snap, that book came out already?”

Therefore, it’s important to approach each book as its own project and plan for the long term.

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Your Author Newsletter – An Underutilized Necessity

Your author newsletter is an underutilized necessity.

Your author newsletter is one of the most powerful–and often overlooked–tools in your author marketing arsenal. There are many schools of thought around how to best use an author newsletter, and many tools (both free and paid) at your disposal. As with most of what we talk about here on the blog, start with the basics, and add on as it fits your business needs.

Why an Author Newsletter?

Why should you have an author newsletter? In one study, it worked better than social media.Believe it or not, email remains one of the better ways to turn casual readers into customers. In one study, 60% of internet marketers said that email marketing outperforms social media. And when you think about it, it does make sense.

Email, unlike social media, isn’t a constant stream of updates. When you get an email, you pause on that item and then delete it (or–gasp–leave it in your inbox). Twitter, Facebook, Instagram all have a feed of content constantly drawing your attention away. When you put together a monthly newsletter, you’ve got a chance to re-hash your big moves from the previous month or announce something new, and you’ve got your audience’s full attention.

Newsletter Service Providers

While you can absolutely manage your own newsletter sign ups with a spreadsheet and your email, who has time for that nonsense? A ton of email marketing companies have sprung up over the years to help small businesses reach and retain their customers. But just like KDP, these service providers are simply a service. You’ll have to build your lists on your own.

For our money (which is none), we like Mailchimp. It’s one of the most commonly used out there, with a lot of bells and whistles. Most of what we’ll talk about in this blog relates to Mailchimp’s service offering, so adjust accordingly.

Some other options include Constant Contact, ConvertKit, GetResponse, and more. Here’s a handy list of services and what you get with each.

Newsletter Strategy

Being former project managers, we thrive on strategy. Your newsletter should fit right in with your larger marketing plans (need one? Hire us!). How do you plan on growing your newsletter lists? How often will you send them out? What kind of content will you share? Keep in mind that strategies are fluid, and if you’re an all-in-one shop, be careful not to load too much onto your plate.

Our author alter-ego S. Usher Evans shoots out a newsletter about once a month. At first, when there wasn’t much news to share, the newsletter would go out at the beginning of the month. Now, she’s coincides the newsletter release when she’s running her monthly eBook ad sales.

In these newsletter, the main goal comprises the top third (or what you see before you scroll). Since she’s driving sales, the book of the month gets top billing. The rest of the newsletter contains updates such as appearances, recent blog posts she wants to highlight, a writing update, and a small review of a book she’s read recently.

All About You

As part of any marketing strategy, you also need to understand your audience. While having a long newsletter doesn’t necessarily work for someone marketing to teenagers, who prefer images to text, you still need to make sure it’s not impersonal. Use your newsletter to talk about your ups and downs, any personal anecdotes (as you feel comfortable sharing), and, of course, any big writing events that have happened. You should be the same person in your newsletter as you are on social media as you are at your author events. As we’ve noted before, it’s all about the soft sell.

Building Your Newsletter Lists

Your author newsletter service provider is just giving you a platform, you'll have to build your lists on your own.Your newsletter list should be an extension of your author platform, and one that you should be building months ahead of publication. But how do you get folks to hand over their email addresses?

Bears saying: Never, ever sign anyone up for any newsletter without their express permission. In the first place, it’s illegal. In the second, it’s just a bad marketing move.

We’ve found the best way to grow newsletter lists are threefold. The first is kind of obvious: give them something in return. S. Usher Evans gives away eBook copies of her standalone fantasy Empath through her website. We’ve also found great success with Instafreebie, which connects to your Mailchimp account if you pay $20 a month.

The second way occurs if you’re a convention-vendor like we are. We slap our iPad and keyboard on the table, connect with Mailchimp’s iOS app, and offer eBook lovers a second option other than taking our card.

Finally, a new idea is taking hold in author communities. Groups of authors banding together to do massive giveaways. Some authors report getting 1,000 subscribers in a single go, and those subscribers read and buy more books. We’re testing this theory currently with Ryan Zee, so we’ll let you know how it goes in a future post.

Managing Subscribers

There’s a couple of schools of thought about how frequently you should be bothering your email subscribers. Some authors prefer a set schedule: at 10 days, they get an email about X topic, at 40 days, an email about Y topic, at 70 days, an email about Z topic, and so on and so forth. This is what is known as a drip campaign. For nonfiction authors, a drip campaign makes a whole lotta sense. After all, you can provide tidbits of information every few days and help educate your audience. For fiction authors, it becomes a bit more trickier. We’re currently testing some theories on this, and we’ll write up a blog post once we’ve done our homework.

For everyone else, about once a quarter, you should dive into your subscriber list and clean it up a bit. Mailchimp will tell you (via their stars system) what level of engagement a person has with your content. If they’re a five-star user, they open and click often. If they’re a two-star user, they’ve never opened a thing.

Someone who’s been on your list for a year and has never opened anything might be a candidate for a “Hey, are you still here?” email blast (and maybe a coupon). If they still don’t respond, then yoink ’em off your list. You can also use this same feature in Mailchimp to send thank you emails to your most active users.

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