Marketing- Newsletters

Do I Need A Mailing List? This is one of the first questions authors ask, and most don’t see the need to have a list when they first start out. Shockingly, a peek around author forums showed many established authors feel the same! Authors, your mailing list is your entire business in one CSV file. Read on to understand why a mailing list is essential for indie authors, even those just starting out.

Social media is hovering on a cliff, and the no one knows what the fallout will be. One company made a change in the way it handles privacy, and it has rippled through the industry in an unprecedented way. Apple has given users control over their privacy, and no social media company was prepared for 62% of users opting out of targeted ads.

Myspace gave way to Facebook. When Facebook changes an algorithm, it destroys everything advertisers have built up for years, and everyone has to re-learn all the tactics that used to make them sales. First we were told to use groups. Then groups were deprioritized. Then it was pages and organic reach. Then organic reach was cut off in favor of paid reach. Then it was videos and reels. Now those are being pushed down. Facebook is now being toppled by TikTok. Almost all social media is now limiting and outright banning most everything it deems as adult content, even something as unassuming as a bare male chest on a cover photo.

Every change sends panic through our community… what do we do now? How do we recover our losses? How do we reach our readers? When you rely on these companies for your entire business, you are at the mercy of their ever-changing whims. When they are mercurial and take everything away in the blink of an eye, this can be disastrous.

Horror stories abound of authors losing groups, pages, even publishing accounts without warning. Entire careers gone in the blink of an eye, often without any recourse. If you do not have a mailing list, there is no way to rebuild. Smart authors start a mailing list from the beginning. They have collected reader emails from giveaways, from the back of their books, from their websites.

As stated above, this is your entire business in one CSV file. When social media limits your reach or bans you from posting entirely, you still have direct access to your readers to alert them of a new release. If you lose access to one of your accounts completely, you can easily email your subscribers and tell them where they can find you on your new social media page. If the worst happens, you can email your subscribers and tell them where to find your books if they’ve been removed from sale from one distributor and had to be placed for sale on an alternative site.

Newsletters don’t have to be complicated. If you despise the idea of filling one up with conversation, don’t do that. If you abhor even the thought of one? Outsource it. There are many PA’s and companies that will handle newsletters for you. The problem I see most often is that authors say they don’t like “spammy” newsletters filled with freebies, so they don’t want to send one. There are two issues with this.

One? You don’t have to include ‘freebies’ if you don’t want to. Your newsletter is whatever you want it to be. If you’d rather send only once in a blue moon when you have a release or there’s important news, that’s entirely your prerogative! Let your subscribers know that’s all they’ll get from you, and only send new release alerts and important news. Be aware, however, that oftentimes this can result in a higher amount of unsubcribes or spam complaints, as readers will forget they signed up to your newsletter since they hadn’t heard from you in a while, and don’t recognize the name.

Two? You are not your readers. Readers who sign up to your newsletter signed up because they want to hear from you. A newsletter from you isn’t spam, because they’ve signed up specifically to get it. Depending on your genre, many readers love the freebies. Romance readers in particular are voracious. Your writing output alone cannot sustain them. Authors offer newsletter swaps to extend our reach and network. This introduces author A to author B’s audience, and vice versa. When done properly, both readers and authors benefit, and you may gain new readers because another author shared your book in their newsletter while you did the same for them. When you have a new release or need something, do not discount the benefits of past networking this way. When you’ve worked to build your tribe, your tribe works for you. No indie is an island.

There are many newsletter companies out there, and most offer free tiers. This is to your benefit. You can test them, see which works best for you while you build your platform. Search for a system that is easy to use and manage, a builder that makes it easy for you to create your newsletter template, and a company that allows you to export your CSV file. Exporting is important, because if you ever want to leave to go to a different provider, you will need to have access to your subscribers to import it into your new provider’s system.

Just like anywhere else, though, don’t trust implicitly. Back up your CSV at least once a month, if not once a week. Keep it safe. I’ve had to rebuild a mailing list from scratch, and it is something I wouldn’t wish on any business.

A Liliom Press Independent Author
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