Email Marketing for Self-Published Authors: Top 3 Tips for Success

"Email Marketing for Self-Published Authors: Top 3 Tips for Success" was written by Ash Salleh. Ash is the Director of SEO at Campaign Monitor, where he works closely with content, copy, and analytics teams to improve site-wide optimization. Prior to his time at Campaign Monitor, he also provided SEO and digital marketing expertise at Zappos and Axiata Digital.

Unlike traditional publishing where authors have an in-house team of editors, designers, and marketers, those who self-publish need to independently plan their entire approach, step-by-step.

Without a marketing plan, indie authors can end up slipping most of their resources into money sinks that may not bring returns. Luckily, many marketing options for self-published authors - like email marketing - are available for low costs.

In this post, we’ll walk through three email marketing best practices to promote your self-published books, build an audience, and boost email subscribers for your author newsletter.

Email Marketing Tips for Self-Published Authors

1. Build Your Author Email List through Social Media

The more digital touchpoints a prospective reader interacts with in relation to your work, the more likely they are to convert. That’s why integrating email marketing with your social media is a low-cost strategy that benefits both channels. How? Use your social channels to provide exclusive content in exchange for users’ email addresses.

This all comes down to effective content marketing. Sharing bits and pieces of your self-published books, as well as related content, gives people a teaser of your work and what they can expect from your brand. This helps them evaluate on their own terms whether they’re willing to click “buy.” It also has a compounding effect: the more value you provide through social content, the more likely readers are to stick around and pay for your books.

Along these lines, you have to figure out what exactly your readers value. Do they want to learn more about your romance hero’s backstory? Would they be interested in seeing concept art of your sci-fi story’s spaceship? Or maybe they’d like to see video snippets of the real town that inspired your cozy mystery story?

Once you’ve identified what your readers might value, create social media content that caters to your audience.

Here are some ideas for what to create and share on social media to boost email subscribers:

  • Excerpts of your book, formatted into quote images
  • Behind-the-scenes video snippets or updates on your publishing process
  • Teasers and drafts
  • Contests or giveaways of your titles

2. Reach out to Bloggers and Reviewers with Custom, Engaging Emails

When it comes to marketing for self published authors, nothing beats the word of a satisfied reader, which is why reader reviews are so important. But when reaching out to bloggers and book reviewers to ask for their thoughts in exchange for a free copy of your book, don’t just copy and paste. Create custom, engaging emails that really showcase your book.

Start with a friendly introduction and then lead with engaging visuals—ideally, the cover of the book you want to send to them. If you don’t have one, you can find images associated with some parts of your book to act as a representation of its contents. You can even attach a video of a book trailer, if you have the time to make one. Adding videos to your email content can boost click rates by 300%!

Book bloggers get tons of submissions - the goal is to make it easy for them to say “yes” by presenting the most important information about your book in an attention-getting way. Visuals can amplify the effect of your outreach emails, enhance your branding, and boost your chances of influential bloggers reviewing your book.

Don’t forget to include a clear call-to-action at the end with an invitation to email you back with their review. Or, you can immediately give them a special link or code to download the ebook.

3. Regularly Engage Readers with Your Email Newsletter

It definitely takes effort to build your author mailing list. So once you start collecting emails, don’t neglect them! Once you have your email list, it’s time to compose regular newsletters to market your work and engage with your audience.

Combine the content marketing initiatives you use on social media with user-generated content (such as links to blog posts and reviews) to populate your newsletters and keep readers up to date.

Some key reminders to note when creating author newsletters:

  • Go with mobile-first design. With nearly half of all internet traffic coming from mobile devices, your emails need to adjust. Layouts that are either adaptive or simple enough to display in a one-column format are ideal. Emails that display incorrectly on mobile may be deleted within three seconds, and 15% of subscribers may unsubscribe.
  • Your subject line matters. Your book cover must impress readers in a few seconds, just as your email subject line must grab a reader’s attention immediately - so make the most of your limited character space count. Segment your email lists so you can craft more personalized subject lines that speak to demographic interests. Be clear about the contents of your email and put the most important phrases in the beginning (such “update,” “sale,” “behind-the-scenes look,” etc).
  • Get personal. Personalization is huge when it comes to email marketing for authors. As a self-published author, you have the advantage of being able to approach communications from a more approachable standpoint, since you’re marketing your own work directly. Treat your emails like a friendly conversation.

Final Thoughts

Email marketing for authors is just one piece of the publishing puzzle, but it's the one with the potential for the most long-term returns. Invest the right amount of effort into creating and running your email campaigns, and your readership will grow—and continue to thank you.

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