Email for Authors: The Ultimate Step-by-Step Guide to Grow Your Audience

Nick Stephenson Profile Picture By Nick Stephenson
Last updated on September 26th, 2022

I’m a big fan of keeping things simple when it comes to book marketing for authors. 

And yes, you can get super-ambitious when it comes to fancy retargeting campaigns, split segmentation, on-page optimization, split testing, and more…

But, in my experience, all that other “stuff” only really works if you have the fundamentals nailed down first. 

In other words:

  1. Having some books people want to read, and
  2. An audience of people who want to read them.

Many authors struggle here, because there’s a temptation to get stuck in “author marketing overload” – which is the feeling that we need to do “something” to boost our book sales, so we try a little of “everything” and wind up getting frustrated, overwhelmed, and stressed. 

Sound familiar? 

Instead, I want to spend some time looking at how can we grow an audience of readers who actively want to read our books. 

Then, how we can develop a direct line to that audience so we can run successful launches and promotions – without the stress.

And if you’d like to go further, I've got a seven day course that will break down everything you need to have in place to go from $0 to $1k+ per month in book sales. If you’d like to join me, just register at the link below:

Register for the seven day course right here.

In this guide, you will learn:
  1. How to set up your email list
  2. How to grow an email list of raving fans
  3. How to effectively “sell” to your email list without being “scammy.”

Let’s jump on in…

Chapter 1

Choosing an Email Provider

I’ve spoken to many a newbie author who (quite naturally) assumed that building an email list simply meant adding contact names to your regular email address book and emailing in bulk from there. 

It’s an understandable assumption, but, unfortunately, using your own regular email service (like Gmail) isn’t going to cut it, for a few reasons.

First, there are gazillions of laws and regulations throughout the world that regulate who you can – and can’t – send marketing emails to. To stay compliant (without having to worry about “how”) you’ll need a professional email marketing tool that handles all this compliance for you. 

Second, email providers like Outlook and Gmail have spent decades figuring out how to stop businesses using their service to send out marketing emails – and if you start trying to bend the rules, you’ll likely end up getting flagged.

Thirdly, personal email providers just don’t have the features and tools you need to make email marketing work for you – like recording opt-in consent, running automated emails, segmenting, tagging, and more. 

If all that sounds complicated, don’t worry – we’ll cover all this soon. But first, how do you choose a professional email marketing provider that’s right for you?

Let’s cover some of the most popular choices:

Mailerlite

Hugely popular among the author community, Mailerlite has a lot going for it. In particular:

  • A great free plan that allows you to have up to 1,000 subscribers before you have to pay anything
  • An easy visual automation builder, that lets you drag and drop different automated emails based on a subscriber’s actions (signed up for something, clicked something, etc)
  • Tagging and segmentation as standard, allowing you to automatically apply tags to your subscribers based on their history with you, and target those segments with either manual (broadcast) or automated emails
  • A simple and good-looking template system for designing your emails so they look great
  • Integrates with pretty much everything, if you need to hook it up to other tools you’re using (eg your website)
  • Includes built-in signup pages as standard
Editor's Note: We actually have an entire course for authors on how to use Mailerlite for your newsletter. And the best part is, it's absolutely FREE!
Check it Out!

Mailchimp

One of the original GOATs for authors, Mailchimp used to be the go-to for creative professionals on a budget. However, a lot has changed since the good old days, and Mailchimp is now more focused on becoming an “all-in-one” marketing suite, which does often mean its main features aren’t really designed with authors in mind. 

However, you do get a free tier with 2,000 subscribers before you have to pony up any hard-earned dollars, so this might be a good fit if you’re planning on keeping things simple.

  • The biggest free plan of any provider with 2,000 free contacts
  • The free plan does limit the automations you can use, but if you’re only using simple email sequences (like a welcome email) and manual broadcasts this might be enough
  • Tagging and segmenting is fully supported, although navigating through the menus can be a pain if you don’t know what you’re looking for
  • Email automation is handled with a non-visual linear based “list” view, so creating automated sequences that include different emails for different people based on what they read or click can be horribly complicated to set up
  • Email templates are varied and easy to design
  • Also includes built-in signup pages and lots of integration options

If you don’t plan on using any email automations (except a simple welcome email when someone signs up) then Mailchimp might be for you, thanks to the 2,000 subscriber free tier. 

But, if you plan on getting more targeted with your email marketing and setting up automated campaigns in advance (so you can let them run while you do other things) then Mailerlite can do all this with its free plan, and also includes a much easier to use visual automation builder. Mailerlite also works out cheaper on the paid plans too once you hit that subscriber limit. 

ConvertKit

Generally considered “The New Kid on the Block”, ConvertKit has become particularly popular with creative professionals in recent years and has developed a ton of cutting edge features to help more people make a living from their work. Convertkit has a lot going for it:

  • Probably the easiest and most comprehensive visual automation builder – letting you build out automated campaigns however you like with an easy to use graphical interface
  • Advanced segmentation, targeting, and tagging rules – helping you reach the right people at the right time with the right offer
  • Built-in direct sales – you can hook your Convertkit account up to Stripe and make sales direct to your readers, then set up automated emails and tags based on the specific product or book that people buy
  • All the other goodies Mailerlite and Mailchimp offer

Although ConvertKit easily has the most advanced features, its email templates are lacking and it can be quite tricky to make your automated campaigns look as nice as your broadcast emails. It’s also noticeably more expensive per month versus Mailerlite and Mailchimp, but you are getting a lot of advanced tools for your money. 

The question is whether or not you need them!

SendFox

Another relatively new offering, this time from the fine folks at AppSumo. SendFox is an email service built around SendGrid, an enterprise-level email tool that’s used by thousands of businesses around the world and includes:

  • Up to 1,000 contacts on the free plan (with sending limits in place)
  • Linear automation builder
  • Basic tagging and segmentation
  • Affordable lifetime pricing option
  • SendFox branding (unless you purchase a monthly add-on)
  • Built-in signup pages
  • Limited integration (unless you purchase Zapier as an add-on)

In a nutshell, SendFox focuses on a limited feature set but at a very affordable price. And while the tools it offers are fairly basic compared with many other options, if you want to keep things super simple and super affordable (and don’t need to integrate your email provider with other tools) then SendFox might be a good fit for you. 

Recommendation

There are many more email marketing providers for authors out there, but these four options are the most popular (for good reason). 

At the end of the day, what matters most is your email marketing tool works for you – meaning, it has the features you need at a budget you can afford. So don’t spend too much time making the decision!

If you want my recommendation, Mailerlite is usually the best place to start for most beginners, thanks to their generous feature set, 1,000 contact free tier without restrictions, and their easy to use visual campaign builder. Their paid tiers are also very reasonable, and with their built-in signup pages you’re getting an all-round winner. 

For the more experienced marketer, for those who want to sell direct without fuss, or if you plan on using a variety of automated campaigns to different segments of your audience, ConvertKit is a compelling option if you can afford it. 

Editor's Note: This is actually our recommendation as well: Mailerlite for beginners and ConvertKit for the more advanced offerings. See our list of the best email providers here:
The Best Email Providers for Authors

For more on growing an email list of raving fans (and what to do with your list once you’ve grown one) join me in a free seven day course all about how to go from $0 to $1k per month from books. 

Registration is free. Sign up here.

Chapter 2

Setting up an Email List

The next step is to set up your email list, which includes setting up your signup forms and welcome emails.

Once you have your email marketing platform set up, all you need to do is:

  1. Set up a signup form – where readers enter their email address (don’t worry, these email software providers have GREAT help videos if you get stuck)
  2. Set up a welcome email – this email gets sent out after someone joins and contains a link where they can download their Reader Magnet (more on this shortly)

Now, exactly how to set these things up will depend on the email marketing service you choose, but there are a few standard “rules” to bear in mind regardless of the tool you use. 

Your Signup Form

To get readers onto your email list, they’ll need to complete a sign-up form to be added to your email marketing provider and receive emails from you. 

This also allows you to track where people have signed up and when, so you have a record of their consent – which is a legal requirement in most parts of the world. 

To create your signup form, there should be a section inside your email marketing provider that allows you to build your own form from scratch, and choose the fields of information you’d like to collect. 

For most authors, you’ll want to collect:

  1. Just the email address, or
  2. The first name and email address

Collecting a first name makes it easier to personalize your emails (you can greet people by name) which can also help prevent you getting blocked by spam filters. 

However, the more fields someone has to fill in, the lower the conversion rate of the form. Meaning, if you ask for a first name AND an email address, you’ll have slightly fewer people completing your signup process. 

You may also want to collect extra information like a second name, phone number, location, or interests – but also bear in mind, each extra field will reduce your signup rate. So only collect information you really need. 

Your Signup Page

The form you create to collect readers’ contact information needs to be displayed on a webpage that anyone can access. 

Many of the email providers we talk about above will give you a page like this as part of their service – so if you don’t have a website yet, don’t worry, you’re still good to go. 

However, if you want full control over the look and feel and function of the page, you can create a page on your own website and host the signup form there instead. You can copy and paste the html code of your form from your email provider, or use a third-party tool to integrate directly with your email host for the ultimate control.

Whichever route you go, your signup page should include an image of your Reader Magnet (usually a book or short story, or similar), a compelling headline and description, a strong call to action, and a form readers can fill in to join your email list and get their free gift. 

Like this:

Email Signup Page

That’s the whole page. There’s nothing else. No links to your bio, or Twitter page, or anything else to distract from this page’s core purpose.

Your Landing Page is the link you’ll give readers in the front and back of all your books, at live events, in your advertising, and everywhere else you can. So it’s important you get it right.

Chapter 3

Creating a Reader Magnet

Your reader magnet is one of the most important aspects of your email marketing. It is what will allow you to interest readers in joining your list. But what is a reader magnet?

In short, a Reader Magnet is a book (or short story, or help guide, or “something else”) that you offer to readers in exchange for them joining your email list – which you advertise in the front and the back of all your books (and anywhere else you can).

Email Reader Magnet

One of the most versatile and powerful business assets you can have is an email list. An email list of readers who ACTUALLY LIKE YOU and are waiting for your next release. And using Reader Magnets is an extremely effective way of attracting your ideal reader and developing a one-to-one line of communication with them. 

The best Reader Magnets follow these rules of thumb:

  1. The “free gift” is compelling, complete, and relevant to the rest of your work. If you write thrillers, offer something in the same genre. Don’t offer them a cook book. 
  2. Position your Reader Magnet offer in the front AND the back of your books. Include an eye-catching graphic. If you’ve buried your offer in a bunch of other text, people won’t see it.
  3. Give readers an easy way to sign up and get their freebie – make sure you have a webpage set up to collect email addresses, that’s free of any distractions.

Some examples:

Fiction:

  • A free novel
  • Short story
  • Collection of stories (multi-author, or solo)
  • Deleted scenes
  • Background material (particularly in genres like Historical Fiction where you can blend fiction and non-fiction together)
  • Audio version (super high value)

Non Fiction

  • “Cheat Sheet” summaries of your book
  • Bonus chapters
  • Video training
  • Private Facebook group for coaching / support
  • Audio version (again, very popular)

Key point: whatever you offer, it needs to be relevant to your audience and provide value. And the best “perceived value” is usually something complete – rather than en excerpt or chapter. This doesn’t mean you have to start giving away full novels, but whatever you do decide to offer will ideally be “complete” (like a short story).

Once you have your Reader Magnet written, simply create a downloadable file and provide a link for people to download it once they join your email list – you can easily do this with an automated “welcome email” configured inside your email marketing provider (see earlier section for more on that). 

In terms of file formats, if you’re offering a book you will ideally provide both the ePub and PDF versions. For audio, you can provide an MP3. If you’re offering video content, you can host this as a private YouTube video or using a video hosting service like Vimeo to avoid readers having to download huge files. 

Format Beautiful Professional Books

Easy to use, and and full of amazing features, you can quickly turn your book into a professional book.

Check It Out

If you’re looking for a simple way to store and deliver ebook and audio files, there’s a great service called BookFunnel that will handle all this for you. 

Otherwise, you can store your files on a cloud storage service like Google Docs or Amazon S3 and simply provide download links and a page of instructions. Totally up to you!

Now, with your Reader Magnet written and ready to rock, it’s time to look at how we get more people to discover you.

For more on growing an email list of raving fans (and what to do with your list once you’ve grown one) join me in a free seven day course all about how to go from $0 to $1k per month from books. 

Registration is free. Sign up here.

Chapter 4

Helping People Find Your Reader Magnet

With your Reader Magnets “machine” all set up, you’ll need to start driving traffic to your offer to get more people on your email list.

We’ve got a few options here:

Free or Permafree Books

A free book gets downloaded 50 to 100 times more frequently than a paid one. If your “read through” is good, a decent number of those free downloaders will move through the rest of your catalogue (and join your email list).

With permafree, your read-through rate will be lower. BUT… if we’re getting 50 times as many downloads to make up for it, even a 1-2% read-through rate can work well because you’ll be getting far more free downloads compared to paid sales to make up for it.

You can even set your book to $0.00 permanently and set that up to run on autopilot. Best part? It costs you precisely… nothing.

Or, if your book is in KDP Select, you can run a free promotion for 5 days out of every 90 day enrollment period. BUT… you’ll need to pay for some ads to make that worthwhile (you’ll need hundreds – or thousands – of downloads over that 5 day period to make it worthwhile).

Here’s a helpful list with some places you can list your free book for extra exposure.

So, if you have a series, or multiple books in the same genre, you can set one of these books (usually #1 in the series if you write in order) permanently free on Amazon. This way, you’ll pick up free downloads and readers will not only see your Reader Magnet offer and sign up for it, but many will pick up the other books in the series too. A win win!

And fortunately, permafree is relatively simple to set up:

  • Make sure your book is published wide (you can use Draft2Digital to easily publish to non-Amazon stores)
  • Set the price on non-Amazon stores to $0.00
  • Email KDP Support with the links to your free book on Apple Books, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo and ask them to price match (if you look in the KDP Help section, there’s an email template to fill out)
  • In almost all cases, if you do the above, Amazon will price-match your book in 3-5 days
  • In some cases, you might have to email back in again (if the price match doesn’t go through, or the help rep denies your request – which they shouldn’t, but sometimes they do for #reasonsunknown)

Or, if your book is in KDP Select and you want to run a free promo, just schedule that from your KDP dashboard.

So, having a perma-free book is a great way to get the ball rolling, but what else can we do? Let’s take a look at some other traffic options…

Giveaways and Contests

You can do these solo, or with promo partners (see above). The premise is simple – offer a sweepstake prize that your target reader would be interested in (e.g. – a bundle of books, a Kindle, etc.) and post your contest up on some giveaway directories.

There are hundreds of giveaway directories to choose from – GiveawayFrenzy is a great place to start – and you’ll start growing a list of entrants quickly.

Offer each entrant your Reader Magnet (we’ll cover more on this in the next lesson) and keep those people who click through to download it. Discard the rest. Once the contest is done, and you’re left with only the people who WANT to hear from you.

Here’s the process:

Consider what prize you can offer – the prize should be compelling (eg – worth $50 – $100 or more) and ideally relevant to the readers you want to attract. You definitely don’t want to offer cash or gift cards as a prize, unless you want to get flooded with awful quality entrants. I usually recommend starting off with offering a Kindle Paperwhite (or similar) e-reader device, as this will attract readers – if you pair this up with a bundle of ebooks (or paperbacks) in your genre (either yours, or someone else’s if they’re paper versions) this can help attract the right kind of readers.

Use software – you want to be able to automate this as much as possible, and if you use software like UpViral or KingSumo Giveaways, there’s a feature built in where entrants can win extra points for sharing the contest with their social media following. This can increase the number of entrants by 30-50% (so it’s worth doing). You will also want to hook the contest software up to your mailing list provider so you can keep track of everyone.

Once the contest is set up, post the details on some giveaway directories. In some cases, you can pay a few dollars for “featured spots”, but you don’t have to.

Giveaways for Email Marketing

When someone enters the contest, email them a confirmation and offer them a copy of your Reader Magnet (see previous section for more on that).

Offer your Reader Magnet again when you announce the winner.

Once the contest has ended, keep the people who downloaded your Reader Magnet (you can track the link clicks) and delete / unsubscribe everyone else to keep your list clean.

And voila! Lots of new readers joining up on your email list. Easy! And while these promotions do cost money (although not a huge amount), we found our cost per subscriber was about 10x lower versus paid ads. A great result.

Joint Promotions

With your Reader Magnet in place, and if you’re using “permafree” or free promotions on your books, you will start growing an email list pretty quickly. But how can you speed things up and make the most out of your subscriber list, regardless of how small it might be?

If you’re just getting started, chances are you don’t have a huge email list or an endless ads budget. So, how can you get traction faster?

With Joint Promotions, the basic premise is this: “What if, instead of spending 6 – 12 months building up an audience of your own, you could ‘borrow’ the audience of someone else?”

In practical terms… if you’ve got 300 people on your mailing list, Facebook page, Twitter account, whatever….

And you find 3 other people with a similar reach…

Next time you run a promotion or launch a new book, you’ll launch it to 1,200 people instead of 300.

The key is reciprocity. Offering value. Learning how to network effectively. No fancy advertising strategies, no super-wowza publicity stunts, no over-complicated psychoanalytical software and business automation…

Just good ol’ fashioned network building and working together.

There are 4 approaches that deliver consistent results, regardless of what stage you’re at. They are:

  • Joint Contests – offer a prize (eg – a Kindle Paperwhite) and entrants join for a chance to win. Email your entrants with your Reader Magnet, and keep those who click through to download it after the contest has ended – thus, keeping only people who have confirmed they are interested (we’ll cover Reader Magnets in the next lesson). << this is a perfect choice if you don’t have an email list yet – see the next section for more on that.
  • Joint Promotions – team up with other authors and offer all your books on sale at the same time. Everyone emails out about the promotion, and you set up a webpage that lists them all out.
  • Cross Promotions – as above, but instead of putting all your books on sale in one go, you do it one by one. Particularly useful for launches.
  • Boxed Sets & Anthologies – take one of your books (or stories) and compile them together with 10-12 other authors, then promote like crazy during launch week (and beforehand, if you’re doing pre-orders). This is a popular way for people to hit major bestseller lists.

Of course, building up a team of people to help you with joint promotions means getting out there and networking a little on sites like BookFunnel, Story Origin, or in author Facebook groups.

Once you have 2-3 people you can team up with, you can start running these joint promo campaigns – and the more you run, the better your results will be.

Other Traffic Options

Permafree, Contests, and Joint Promos combined with your Reader Magnet are consistently the most cost effective way to start growing your email list.

If you’re looking to scale up – and you’ve got a marketing budget to spend – you can also consider investing in paid ads. 

Popping down to the “traffic store” is a great option if you need to get lots of clicks in a short period of time (or you want to schedule a burst of traffic on a specific date).

In general, paid ads will fall into two categories:

  • One-off “Email Blast” ads, and
  • Ongoing “pay per click” or “pay per impression” ads

With the former, you pay a fee to have your book listed in a daily email that goes out to the ad provider’s email list. Pricing for this will vary, and so will results, but if you line up 3-5 of these during a launch or promotion week, it can have some great results.

Check out Kindlepreneur’s List of Email Blast Ad Providers here.

For the latter, most likely you’ll be looking at Amazon Advertising, Facebook Ads, and BookBub (self-serve) ads. These platforms allow you to bid for clicks, and you can set up campaigns to run 24/7.

Essentially, you’ll pay a fee for each click (or thousand impressions) and you’ll be able to target your ads to the people most likely to be interested in them.

For list-building purposes, Facebook ads are a great place to start – as you can target fans of similar authors and send traffic direct to your signup page (see earlier section for more on that).

But remember – if you’re going to invest in paid advertising, make sure you have the catalogue and read-through rate to deliver a profit. So this is definitely not for beginners!

Going Deeper

To dive into this process in more detail, come along to a free seven day course and I’ll break down all the options and help you decide what’s right for you.

Registration is free. Sign up here.

We’ll cover the Reader Magnets process, talk about traffic options, and I’ll show you a simple way to figure out how many clicks you’ll need each day to hit your revenue goals (so you know you’re always going to make a profit).

Now, with a steady stream of traffic to your Reader Magnet offer, and with readers joining your email list, it’s time to think about what you actually need to DO with your email list once you’ve got one.

Chapter 5

Nurturing Your Subscribers (ie autoresponders)

To “prime” your audience to make more sales, you are going to need to nurture them over time. One of the best ways to do this is with an autoresponder.

While you’re email list is going to be your #1 source of sales during a launch or promotion (and your go-to resource for getting reviews) the goal is not to continually “blast” your audience with sales messages. 

In fact, “selling” should be very much the last thing on your mind – especially in the beginning – as you aim to build a lasting relationship and turn “curious browsers” into loyal fans. 

To help develop this, we need to send out regular content that delivers value to your subscribers and keeps them engaged between launches and promotions. 

That way, you audience will be only too pleased you’ve got a new book coming out – and will be first in line to purchase during launch week. 

So, how can we deliver great content and engage people without spending all day trying to write emails? Thankfully, there’s a process…

Chapter 6

What to Write in Your Newsletter

Writing an effective email is no different – in principle – to writing a great book. You have a story to tell and a mission to evoke a certain response. But, in reality, it *feels* a million miles away.

Your readers don’t want to be “sold” to. Heck, YOU don’t want to be “sold” to, either. Not unless you actively want something and are looking for that solution.

Chances are, you’ve got ~50 different email campaigns hitting your inbox every day. I’ll wager every single one of them is actively trying to get you to buy something.

The problem is, this “brute force” approach has diminishing returns. And people get sick of it, fast.

There’s a place for “selling” – sure. But when it’s every. Single. Email…

This is where a lot of authors struggle. They’ve assumed that “email marketing” means “selling stuff to strangers that they don’t want – all the time”. And that’s what many authors do. But it’s the wrong approach.

Your email marketing should be an extension of your books. You don’t relentlessly pitch your latest boxed-set in chapters one through forty, do you? No.

Instead, you provide readers with an exceptional EXPERIENCE. Build their trust, develop your brand, and prove your value.

What Do I Put in My Emails?

Here’s where we dig a little deeper…

You’ll need to know how your main objective (reviews, sales, responses, getting someone to download a free book, etc) can be “framed”.

Meaning – it’s not always enough just to know what your objective is (eg – “make sales”, “get reviews”, etc). You need to know how to frame it in the right way to suit your audience, your own personal style, and to fit the action you actually want people to perform.

In other words, you need to define the “tone” you want to use. Or, more specifically, the “character or attitude” of your message.

Here’s how that works.

Setting Your Tone

Your emails should generally fall into one of four categories:

  1. Information – “this is happening now”, or “here’s what to do next”, or “here’s how to download your book”. Pretty much just laying out some instructions. A lot of these emails will be “transactional emails” or will form parts of other kinds of emails (where instructions are needed – eg the call to action in a sales email) and have a very narrow purpose.
  2. Education – “here’s how to solve your problem”, “here’s an idea that might help you”, “here’s something you haven’t thought of before…”. Not just for the non-fiction folks. What’s the central “problem” your reader has? What are they trying to achieve or “get”? Here’s where you can help them with that.
  3. Inspiration – “you can be part of this too,” or “here’s a glimpse of something awesome,” or “here’s how a change could affect you for the better”.
  4. Entertainment – “Here’s something you might enjoy”, or “Here’s your anti-dote to boredom today,” or, “Sit down with a cup of coffee and check THIS out…”

This is the “easy” part for fiction writers – or, at least, it should be. Consider what JK Rowling does on her website – it’s filled with quizzes, videos, community, and… well, it’s fun!

Or children’s author David Walliams – who uses challenges, competitions, and multi-media to get kids reading.

Or non-fiction author and journalist Lesley MM Blume who uses articles and slideshows to show her target audience a glimpse into the subject matter of her books.

While other authors are relentlessly pushing their latest release, these are some examples of authors putting their readers’ experiences first. 

If you can do that with your website, you can do that with your emails. When your readers know you’re a source of value – that’s not hidden behind a paywall or dripped out in tiny pieces as a “bonus” for buying something – then you’re building massive equity with your audience.

And guess what? When “sales time” rolls around, that pays back in spades.

Structure of an Email

Like writing a book, it helps to have a plan – or structure – in place before you sit down to write anything. 

For emails, I like to use a simple four-part structure called HTOC. 

  • Hook (get Attention)
  • Transition (make it relevant and generate Interest)
  • Offer (a segue from the transition, and evokes desire)
  • Call to Action (get people to “do” something)

With your framework, your idea, and your structure – you’re ready to rock.

Let's Take a Fiction Example

Bob writes thrillers, with a forensic science twist. He’s got a book coming out soon and wants to get some great ARC readers to read his book and give him a review on launch day. Here’s how Bob would approach that process:

Objective

Two objectives here – (1) get the “best” people to download an ARC copy of his book, and (2) ensure they’re primed to leave a review on launch day.

Tone

Bob writes fiction, with a forensic twist. That means his readers are interested in thrillers and forensic science (duh). Bob decides to use a mix of entertainment and education – a little science behind the story.

Central Idea

Bob read in the newspaper that scientists have been studying one of the oldest complete human skeletons ever found – dubbed “Cheddar Man”. He learns that, using modern techniques, they’ve been able to identify that his skin was black and his eyes were blue.

Bob knows for anyone interested in forensic science, this is an interesting topic. And it’s something he can relate back to his books quite easily.

Structure

  • Hook – the “Cheddar Man” story (Interest)
  • Transition – the process of including “correct” science in Bob’s books, the research he does, the work he puts in. Letting his readers into his world (Attention).
  • Offer – Bob wants to offer a limited number of ARC copies of his latest forensic thriller, which contains elements explored in the “Cheddar Man” story (Desire).
  • Call to Action – Bob asks those who are interested to complete a short questionnaire. Bob will choose the best 10 responses and invite those people onto his “Launch Team” (Action).

The process is the same, whatever genre you write.

It's the Same for Non-fiction…

Jane runs a Facebook consulting service and has written several books on paid advertising on that platform. She is launching a new book all about “Facebook Advertising for Etsy Shop Owners” and wants to get as many sales as possible on launch day.

Objective

Get people excited about an upcoming promotion

Tone

Jane wants to sell a book about Facebook advertising, so she’ll use a mix of Education (showing off her expertise) and Inspiration (showing what results people might get and how it will improve their businesses).

Idea

Jane read that Facebook recently updated their algorithms and knows a lot of people are concerned about it. So Jane wants to dispel some myths and show how she can help.

Structure

  • Hook – Facebook’s changing algorithm and how it will affect your Etsy shop (Attention)
  • Transition – Jane “busts some myths” about the new algorithm and tells her readers what they really need to focus on (Interest)
  • Offer – Jane wants to take all the stress away from “guessing” how Facebook ads work, and has a book that covers everything readers need to know, with a link to a free consultation as a special launch bonus, where Jane might also sell coaching packages down the line (Desire).
  • Action – Jane tells her readers to pre-order the book within 72 hours to qualify for the free consultation. She includes links to everywhere the book is sold (Action).

See how this works? There’s a defined process for coming up with ideas, expanding those ideas, and crafting emails that take readers “on a journey” towards the action you want them to perform.

Frequency

How often should you email your list? The answer is… it depends. 

You should email your list as often as you can, taking into account your schedule and how well your readers respond to regular content. 

An education business that sells instructional books, courses, and coaching can quite feasibly send an email out 3-5 times per week and get great results. 

A fiction author, on the other hand, might see complaints coming through if he or she emails out more than once per week (or a couple times a month). 

There is no magic number – but a good rule of thumb is for non-fiction / educational authors to email once per week minimum, and fiction authors once per month minimum. 

With a solid plan in place, each email should only take 20-30 minutes to write, and you can often re-use these broadcasts in your automated sequences later on as new people join your list. So it’s work that definitely pays dividends!

For more on email marketing strategies join me in a free seven day course about how to go from $0 to $1k per month from books. 

Registration is free. Sign up here.

So, with a content plan in place (and a structure to write great emails quickly) it’s time to think about how to structure your next launch or promotion around your email list – without coming across as “spammy”. Let’s dive in…

Chapter 7

Launching a Book to Your Newsletter

You've got your email list set up, and you've got some subscribers. But what happens when it's time to launch a book to your email list?

During a promotion, we’re not just going to “blast” out an email telling people the book is ready.

Sure, that can get SOME sales… if you’re lucky. But we can do better. Much better.

So instead, we’re going to use a launch sequence. Which means splitting your emails into 2 groups:

  1. The pre-launch – the emails you send before the promotion goes live, building excitement and anticipation
  2. The launch – the emails you send during the promotion, to drive action (Sell).

The objective, “tone”, and content of your emails during these two phases is going to be slightly different, but they’re all going to follow a standard model:

The marketing principle we call AIDA. Attention, Interest, Desire, Action…

During the pre-launch, you’re going to focus on Attention, Interest, and Desire by introducing exciting elements of your books, and promising an amazing offer during your launch window.

During the launch, you’re going to deliver on that promise. End result? More sales, less stress, happier readers:

Pre-launch Email Marketing

^^ the peak on the left had no pre-launch series. The peak on the right did. You can see the difference.

Editor's Note: Additionally, we have a book launch strategy that we use for our books, and that you can download for free.
Check Out the FREE Book Launch Strategy
Chapter 8

Launch Blueprint Examples

In this section, we'll go over a few examples of how your can put your email marketing into action.

Julie writes historical romance, and has included lots of historical events in her book, including assassination attempts on the queen, violent rebellions, executions, and the attempted invasion of England by the Spanish Armada.

Knowing she needs an overall “theme”, Julie takes elements of her book and frames it as a question to her readers: “How would your relationship survive assassination attempts, murder, and foreign invasion?”

Launch Plan Template

Email 1 – “Attention” – Asking the question “would your marriage survive?” Then tease the upcoming release and mention bonuses, promise to share some real-life examples and a cover reveal.

Email 2 – “Attention and Interest” – Share one historical example of “lovers in jeopardy”. Reveal cover. Tease more info on characters and historically accurate plot. Reveal launch-day bonuses.

Email 3 – “Interest and Desire” – Detail what research has gone into the book. Introduce main hero / heroine and main antagonist, conflict, and stakes. Link to chapter 1 preview. In PS, remind readers of the launch bonuses and deadline.

Email 4 – “Desire and Action” – Announce book is live. Re-cap on bonuses. Strong call-to-action. Underneath call to action remind readers of strong reviews. Hint at another “lovers in jeopardy” story, but this time with a happy / not happy ending.

Email 5 – Desire and Action” – Tell the story teased in previous email. Link to characters in the new book. Another reminder of bonuses and strong call to action.

Email 6 – “Action” – briefly remind readers WHY you’re telling them these stories (eg – “these people refused to miss their chance”) and tie into the launch bonus deadline closing in a few hours. Strong call to action, even include an animated countdown timer if appropriate.

What About Nonfiction?

This is just an example of a “launch plan” or “promotion plan”. While the specific details will vary depending on your genre or audience, the overall objectives and structure don’t change. 

It’s the same with non-fiction too. What are the main problems your book is trying to solve? Choose one or two examples and give your readers some help.

For example, if your non-fiction book is all about “building a house”, you could craft your launch emails around “planning and legal requirements” (and maybe include some stories of “the world’s craziest houses that got planning permission”) or “how to find the best contractors” (and include similar amusing / interesting stories).

The key thing is to tie your “theme” into your books and provide readers with something interesting to read.

It’s a simple story. But it’s a “big idea”.

In a Nutshell

Your emails need to focus on 2 things during the pre-launch and launch phases:

  1. Get people excited by telling a story or teaching them something that’s relevant to your book
  2. Use launch bonuses to make sure people buy during promo week (very important).

Your launch bonus might be a free book (yours, or even another author’s book that’s similar), extra chapters, an audio / video version, deleted scenes, or anything else compelling. Or, you might keep it simple and just do a price reduction for the first week. 

So long as there’s a reason to buy NOW, readers won’t procrastinate.

For more on book launch strategies (including some behind-the-scenes results from NYT and USA Today Bestsellers) join me in a free seven day course all about how to go from $0 to $1k per month from books. 

Registration is free. Sign up here.

In the meantime, let’s recap…

Chapter 9

Pulling it All Together

Let's pull together everything we've learned so far. Everything from writing your reader magnet, to launching your book.

We’ve covered a ton in this article, but in a nutshell:

  • You’ve got a compelling Reader Magnet to draw people in to your email list
  • You’re using a variety of traffic strategies to keep people joining 24/7
  • During a launch or promotion, you’ve got a “template” you can use each and every time
  • And you’re using launch bonuses and the AIDA principle to more than double your results

If you follow this process, you’ll find growing an audience can be a fairly simple process, and one that you can “let run” in the background once the system is set up. And as your email list grows over time, each subsequent launch or promotion gets bigger and bigger. 

Now, we’ve covered a lot in today’s article – and we’re really only scratching the surface of what’s possible when you have “a plan”. 

If your goal is to grow your book sales without getting overwhelmed, I’ve got good news. 

For a limited time, I’ve got a free seven day course that dives deep into what it takes to got from $0 to $1k per month from book sales. 

I’ll break down the entire process for you – from understanding how many clicks you need, how to make sure those clicks turn into sales, running successful email campaigns, and some behind-the-scenes results from USA Today and New York Times bestselling authors who’ve put these strategies to work for them. 

Registration is free. Sign up here.

Hopefully, I’ll see you there!



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