The real work of being a published author is not the writing, the abuse your ego will take during the editing process, or even the stress of the actual publication (which will be higher for self-publishing authors who do this themselves or pay someone else). For me, it’s been entirely in the marketing of my books. With two and a half books published, a short story collection on its way, my third novel being beaten up by editors, and drafting my fourth novel, I can tell you that I spend more time marketing my work than I do at any other phase. It’s not just marketing the 2.5 books that are already in the world, but building interest in the other 2.5 books that are in different phases of development. One of the most effective tools I have for marketing is my mailing list. Today, I’m going to explain why a mailing list is so important for every author.
Why connect with readers?
I’m really lucky that I’m surrounded by other authors. Each of them is a teacher, but they also have their weaknesses. Some of them have dismissed the community they could have from their readers. As a reader, I love being acknowledged by the authors I love. Other readers have told me the same thing about themselves. I decided to connect with my readers to get people to give me feedback, to get to know them and to share my books with more people. This seemed to be the way most authors found success through communication. I have a blog, but only a few people read it. When I started the newsletter, it was going to provide people with a way to keep up with all the social media in one place. This changed drastically once I published Modern Persuasion.
A Blog, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Newsletter
I have all these ways to connect with my readers already. I have a Facebook page and I’m using Instagram. I’ve already given up on a blog and Twitter. Do I need to add a mailing list and newsletter on top of that? When I asked other authors this question they all came back with a resounding YES and I’m going to echo what they’ve all told me. You do, and the newsletter should be your primary way of communicating with them. The primary reason is that social media comes and goes. Facebook skews older, and Instagram is just pictures. Once their popularity fades, you lose the people in that community. A mailing list is always yours. If you switch to a new service to manage it, you take the people with you.
There is also the issue of visibility on social media. Facebook, for example, give feed priority to images and videos over text links. Then you have to get through to people in a way that makes them stop and look while scrolling through their feed. I, personally, am very controlling over what is allowed to show up in my feed. I’ve set priorities to make sure I see everything from a group or page. I still miss things! Just imagine how much is missed by people who aren’t as controlling as I am.
Our own Sara Marks is a self-published author. She primarily writes chick lit and contemporary romance books. In 2017 she decided to focus her efforts on self-publishing over traditional publishing. This monthly series is about her experiences publishing and promoting her own books. You can learn more about her and her books on her webpage.