If you’re like me, you try to plan in advance. That does NOT mean actually taking action (just because it’s snowing out here in Minnesota that doesn’t mean it’s time to play Christmas music yet!) I write this in my local coffee shop. Jingle Bell Rock is on their house sound system.
Anyway, mailing lists and promotions take a good deal of forethought to do well, so this is a timely blog post. Hopefully, young padawan writers, you have been systematically building your mailing list throughout the year(s). It’s time for it to pay off for you!
If you aren’t utilizing your newsletter or author’s mailing list, you are leaving cash on the table. I’ll show you just how much potential below!
Last year alone, we saw nearly 40% growth in total digital spending over the Thanksgiving holidays (meaning the chart below should feature another significant spike). We can protest the gluttony and excess of it all, but at the end of the day, we authors must be competitive and wise business persons. One cannot discount the potential money to be made by striking when the iron is hot.
I’ve spent a good deal of time growing my mailing list to about 3,000 subscribers since spring, (actually, not all that much effort was required—it just took time to build it through regular promotions and author to author collaboration and swaps.) If you haven’t taken the time to read my post on how I did it, you should get started on it right now so you will be ready for future marketing. While you’re at it, I’ll point out that you missed it because you haven’t subscribed to my blog. Click that follow button and don’t miss my content. Don’t take my word for it, though, I pulled a lot of my advice from Newsletter Ninja, I suggest you get a copy of your own.
Now that I’ve got a list of folks who are used to hearing from me and have demonstrated that they like the kind of content I produce, I have an audience that I can pitch a special sales event to. Please note that I am not normally asking them to make a purchase any other time during the year… there is a danger in constantly being salesy and that leads to being viewed as spam… however, during this time of the year, this kind of ask is expected. A study by Shopify after the 2018 Black Friday/Cyber Week sales demonstrated the power of email marketing and the trust/rapport that is built on email lists (when done right).
“The 2018 online retail holiday weekend proved the power of discounts. Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday all posted +28% or higher digital commerce spending versus 2017, as consumers increasingly took to online retailers to snag deals and promotions. “ Comscore
My plan to utilize my newsletter is simple: Ask my readers to make a purchase. Share my own books which will be set at a limited time discount, and partner with other authors through Newsletter Swaps to broaden the impact of the sale weekend. If 5-8 other writers with their own mailing lists follow the same pattern and we each share our collaborators’ books too, then the reach broadens greatly. It’s the same methodology that the Storyorigin and Bookfunnel models were built on, only it takes it one step further from give-aways that grow a mailing list. This step makes a sale-based ask to that existing community you have grown.
This entire model works even better if you have cultivated a list with particular kinds of likes and then select collaborators with cross-over appeal. By this, I mean that if you grew a list for cozy Christian romance, it’s not a good idea to send them sale info for ab-rippling male on male BDSM reverse harem erotica. That will end up losing subscribers and alienating your audience, but if you’ve had any success growing it thusfar, then you already know that.
I write speculative genre fiction (SF/F/P/H) and would welcome submissions and cross-promotions for Newsletter swaps. You should click here and sign up on my swap form any time up until thanksgiving. Because it’s the one time out of the year I explicitly ask for the sale and break that rule of “don’t be salesy,” I will include as many shares as possible. If you are a Story Origin member, I sincerely hope you will jump on my cross-promo pages for sale-price books over cyber week. There are 3 right now that I am a part of which you might consider joining if there is any way your story qualifies:
Amazon alone accounts for 40.0% of U.S. online retail, and Amazon accounted for 43.3% of e-commerce gains in the United States last year. Amazon’s dominance in e-commerce is in large part thanks to its marketplace, which allows the retailer to sell millions of SKUs. More than one-third—176—of the merchants ranked in Internet Retailer Top 500 sell on Amazon in 2019, up from 104 in 2018.
One of the great things I love about Story Origin is that you can use Amazon’s affiliate tags with your Universal Book Links (UBL). If you don’t know about them, you really should do some research. The tags insert a 24-hour cookie that earns you a percentage based commission if the customer you refer makes a purchase. Given that so many e-sales happen over the holiday, it’s likely that you could earn 5-7% on holiday gift sales even if the shopper decides not to buy your book. I didn’t try to capitalize on this in 2018, but in 2017 I made a very healthy chunk of money when a few link-clickers did all their holiday shopping after clicking one of my links.
Caution! You cannot send affiliate links via email without having your account banned! But it is perfectly acceptable to send them from pages such as StoryOrigin’s promos or from a blog like this. Story Origin’s UBL service, however, functions as a redirect. If you click a UBL, it points to a hosted page on Story Origin that pulls in your affiliate ID and then shoots the user out to the product you have linked to it. Try it out by clicking this UBL for my newest Crime-comedy story. Pretty seamless right? (Now while you’re there, feel free to make some major purchases).
Don’t miss out on your piece of the pie this holiday season. Here’s an example of the market growth during this time of the year (followed by my model, which you should totally steal, to boost your sales.) The people are going to shop online anyway—you might as well do everything you can to support your writing habit by strategically positioning your followers by giving them a great deal on your books and using affiliate tags.
Here is my model, and I sincerely hope that you consider joining my author journey (and maybe pop in for a newsletter swap!)
- Have/grow your mailing list. (average open rates are 15-25%, but authors tend to be higher, and a click-thru of about 3% meaning that I should have about 90 clicks to my 3,000 large subscriber list) You should already be regularly interacting with your readers… if you do, your rates will be much higher.
- Have your Amazon affiliate ID ready
- Create UBLs via Story Origin (this is a free service) and include affiliate ID in link creation
- Schedule ebooks to discount price if in Kindle Unlimited (.99 countdown deal) I recommend using series starters to encourage read-thru and KU clicks
- Join Story Origin cross-promotions for sale during the applicable timeframe
- Schedule special email that will include your books’ UBLs, followed by banners and blurbs for Story Origin promotions. Follow that with links and graphics for other authors you have agreed to do Newsletter Swaps with
- Continue to find other authors and encourage them to do swaps, too! The more collaborators you garner, the greater success you will have!
- Send the email on Cyber Monday and blast it out to your blog and all social media—you want your links as visible as possible in the chances that someone is shopping and your UBL earns you a commission.
Follow this advice and you should have a very merry Christmas—and hopefully, Santa will leave you some new book reviews in addition to an Amazon account full of cash 🙂