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  • Caitlyn Lynch

Building Your Author Newsletter

So, everyone’s telling you that you need to build a mailing list and an author newsletter, right? Direct marketing to interested subscribers is definitely the best way to sell your product. But just how do you go about finding those subscribers?

Well, as an author with a mailing list of over 18,000 engaged subscribers, please allow me to give you a few pointers.

Instafreebie is, in my opinion, the best way to go. What you do is upload a book or story you are willing to give away for free, and join every group promotion you possibly can. Beware if your book/story is in Kindle Unlimited - you can only upload the 10% that is visible in the preview, or you’re in breach of KU terms and conditions.

Make sure you check the box, when setting up your promo in instaFreebie, that says “Email Opt-In Required”. Otherwise you are giving away the story and getting nothing in return!

If you are with MailerLite or MailChimp, you can integrate accounts and the subscribers will automatically be migrated to your mailing list, where you should have a special ‘welcome!’ sequence set up. This should be an automated email (you can use a sequence of several, but I just use one) which thanks the person for joining your list, tells them what they can expect from you, and shares social media links etc.

You can see the automated email which goes out to new people joining my instaFreebie (and Bookfunnel, which is a similar service) subscribers here. I set up an automated sequence which kicks in after a 3-day delay and moves subscribers who DO open that email into my ‘good’ subscriber list, and those who don’t into my ‘unengaged’ list. Either way, they’ll get my regular email the following Sunday. How often you send out newsletters is up to you… some people only send out when they have a new release, some send monthly, biweekly, weekly or even daily! Personally, I’ve found that weekly is a ‘sweet spot’ for me. (see all my past NLs in my archive here… and you can also sign up to receive future ones if you like. I give away a Kindle Fire 7” once a month, paid for my my Amazon Associates income!)

You get 1 month free full service (including mailing list signups) from instaFreebie and then you have to pay $20 a month. You can get a LOT of subs in that one month if you join a few promos and you have an appealing cover, though. I'm talking up to 10,000. I've had as many as 3,000 from a single promo.

Eventually you reach a point of diminishing returns. HOWEVER, if like me you are with MailerLite, having both accounts actually gets you a 30% discount off your MailerLite subscription, which means once you get to 15,000 subscribers, instaFreebie basically pays for itself. Nice, huh?

Note; you get up to 1,000 subscribers free with MailerLite before you have to start paying. If you’d like to sign up using this link you will get a $20 credit, and if eventually you do start paying, I’ll get a $20 credit too!

The best place to find group promos is on Facebook. I usually join a few every month - some are free, some are $5, some are $10. How many subscribers you will get is a who knows question. I've had $10 ones that got me 100 subs and free ones that netted a thousand, but generally the paid ones are a bit better.

Here are the groups I know about (in my genre) where these opps are posted… there may be others in different genres, note!

As a general rule, the main requirement for entry is that you share with your NL. Some have minimum NL requirements, some will take anyone as long as you pay the entry fee and agree to share. I started off with about 20 subscribers and got accepted into a couple of small ones, built up to 1,000 really quickly and then I got accepted into the bigger ones.

What do I do once I have a mailing list? What do I put in the newsletter?

Well, don’t forget that you’ve got all those instafreebie group swaps to share!

But for the rest, this is where Newsletter Swaps comes into play. Most people don’t put out a book a month, but what they do instead is build up goodwill by sharing about other authors’ new releases. There are FB groups for newsletter swaps as well - most of them won’t consider you worth swapping with until you have 5k subs at least, though.

There is also BookBoast and Bookclicker. On Bookclicker you can actually monetize your list, if you don’t have swaps you’re working towards. I charge $15 to send out a ‘mention’ to my 18k subscribers and $30 for a ‘feature’ headline ad. I get quite a few bookings a month… enough to pay for my MailerLite subscription, so it makes it all worthwhile!

I don’t recommend putting too many ads in your NL. I have one Feature spot and two Mention spots a week and that’s it. Too many turns your subscribers off.

What I would definitely suggest is subscribing to the mailing list of a few of your favourite authors and seeing what and how often they send out. Check out their website or their Amazon page and I can just about guarantee you’ll find a mailing list link somewhere!

And don’t forget, you can always subscribe to mine here...

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