Mailing lists: what is this newsletter swap thing i keep seeing?


I’ve been pretty keenly interested in getting better at promotions lately. To that end, I’ve enrolled in promo author-guru Mark Dawson’s SPF course and been working on his ads for authors package, especially the Facebook side of things. I’m working though it slow, and dealing with newsletter signups, etc.

I have a mailing list and I set up my triggers to auto-send mail every so often so that my system is in place… before I start spending money on ads, though, I have begun seeing lots of authors talk about newsletter swaps and looked into it.

So after some research, I’m kind of sold on the idea.  Basically, two authors agree that in their next email blast they’ll include a link and info to the other author’s book/mailing list. This usually includes the other book’s cover image and blurb as well so that readers can get a better feel for it. This is essentially a grassroots version of how things like BookRiot work (you can check out my Bookriot experience at the end of February when it goes live under the “Chris Reviews Services” tag.)

As an author, you should be talking with other authors. Hopefully you are involved in some kind of community and keeping in touch with your tribe. If not… get on that ASAP, for the sake of your sanity. It’s best to already have some sort of following to begin with, probably a few hundred strong. An author with 2,000 readers isn’t going to want to swap with one with only 50 readers. There is a certain economy to it.

Likewise, you ought to find authors whose genre is a fit. It’s a wasted effort if the audience is an automatic “no thanks” out of the gate and the sharing author might even lose some credibility with his list. It’s a bad idea to pitch your friends SciFi to your 50,000 reader romance list. Even if all of those subscribers sign on for his list, that’s 50,000 folks to try and pitch who aren’t very likely to be receptive to a future sales pitch based on genre preferences. This will translate to a lot of wasted energy and disillusionment from the author.

Many authors have signup forms for their peers to make such requests. An online group that I’m active on has a dedicated post for newsletter swaps ever weekend. Some authors don’t do the regular email, but instead use blogs (I go that route.) I offer a blog to feature authors here no more than once a week and let writers borrow my platform. (Here is how I take submissions). Like the others, I use a google forms tool which was super easy to set up.

Much like I am setting up for my future email campaign list, you ought to put some attention into the efforts first. You don’t want to look like a hack later. Put together your promo package and have a written marketing plan and goals before you start doing swaps. I have a set of 5 different books I give away in increments to subscribers and I have Mailchimp autodeliver them on my behalf. Cut down your busywork to avoid burnout and automate whatever you can.

There are lots of great ideas out there. But here’s the take away:

  1. You ought to be doing something to both develop and utilize a mailing list that you own (so, not a social media list such as twitter… that is a different ball of worms)
  2. It doesn’t have to be expensive or extravagant
  3. It doesn’t have to be difficult

Get out there and find your tribe… both in terms of readers AND fellow writers.

For some great insight, check out this video:

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