One of the best ways for authors to alert their readers as to new works is to stay in contact with them from the start. While it is recommended that authors frequently update their author websites (via articles and/or blogs), it is not reasonable to expect the majority of their readers to continue returning to the site for more information month after month and year after year. Life simply gets in the way. While RSS feeds can assist in keeping the author in front of their audience, email marketing really is the best option since it affords more control of the marketing campaign and allows for an increased level of personal involvement.
While there are a number of companies out there which will gladly take an author’s money in lieu of email marketing services, most remove the author from the equation and many are essentially spammers. The few who put in the required amount of time are very good, but expensive Email1and1 . As such, the independent author would be advised to take their own email marketing into their own hands. Without much effort or capital, any author can do just that.
Effective email marketing for authors can be fulfilled through simple tasks such as employing an email address collection mechanism, planning an email marketing campaign, designing and implementing an email marketing campaign, and revising email marketing campaigns according to the results. Any author, no matter how technologically astute or not they happen to be, can be an effective email marketer. They can connect with their readers, provide valuable content to them, and maximize profits by doing so.
EMAIL ADDRESS COLLECTION MECHANISM
While some readers are wary of submitting more personal information than necessary, it never hurts to ask. The author might utilize a required field for an email address, but also include optional fields of first and last names and other identifying information (e.g., birthday, location of residence, etc.). In doing so, the information can be inputted into an email manager system, such as Constant Contacts (discussed later in this text), with personalized emails sent out to all of the recipients via the manager system. The software can address each email as if it were a personal email. It can also automatically update the email client list with all submitted information. As such, much of the grunt work is automatically handled for the author.
PLANNING THE EMAIL MARKETING CAMPAIGN
Once an email address is obtained, the author must craft an effective plan to utilize the reader email addresses. Some authors opt to create a biweekly or monthly e-newsletter. Others send out a teaser of new content periodically. While the end goal for the author is to sell more books (and ancillary services), the goal for the reader is to gain value. As such, correspondence with readers must focus on providing valuable content, not merely marketing to them. Emails should never feel like a sales pitch. They should feel informal and friendly. Authors could even survey their email subscribers to find out what they would be interested in receiving and to ensure that they aren’t coming across as a salesman, but as an expert in their field.
While teaser content and e-newsletters are common, some authors have pushed the envelope by offering subject-specific tools. For example, genre authors have been known to provide tips on writing in their genre via email, book reviews of other promising texts within their genres, and updates about their personal life (to make a personal connection with their readers). Others have integrated weekly podcasts or video chats. Even photos of the author could be a nice touch. Readers are primarily interested in useful content. As such, an author could even send out via email their recently published work (e.g., published articles, blogs, short stories, not new books which will be for sale) as it is published. This would be a great way to stay on readers’ minds and to ensure them of the value of being a part of the email list.