One question that bothers all authors launching their first book is, “What steps should I take to build an audience to ensure the release of my first book is successful?” It’s common knowledge among authors that an author mailing list is vital for their book promotion efforts, and this should be done months in advance before any book release. The hard part is knowing how to build an author mailing. It’s not easy and not everyone’s cup of tea, especially for authors who have yet to publish anything of note.
However, it’s not an impossible task, even if you’re a first-time author who knows nothing about book publishing or promotion. One of the easiest ways to get people signing up to your author mailing list is to offer them free giveaways. Nothing grabs attention better, and it is easier than building content that people are going to share. Building great content takes a lot of work and time, and there’s no guarantee that you’ll get a lot of shares, follows, or likes. What is powerful is a contest as it generates excitement and interest among people.
When you have people interested in your contest, you stand a greater chance of building your author mailing list quickly. That is vital for your book promotion efforts, and once you have a mailing list, you won’t ever have to worry about reaching out to a large audience. So, without further ado, here’s how you can build an author mailing list through giveaways.
1. Setting Up Your Author Mailing List
The first thing that you need to do is set up an automated email sequence to make life easier for yourself. That means creating your account and then filling up the signup form. Sharing this form on your social media platforms and author’s website is also a good idea. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself and aim to start small, only signing up family and friends in the beginning and creating an automated email sequence for all new subscribers who are signing up.
Most email marketing platforms offer low-cost entry-level plans, and some offer free plans. Be certain to review how many subscribers a free plan will allow, and more importantly, what will the cost be once you move over to a paid plan.
Best Book Monkey offers an Author Marketing Club package that includes a website and email marketing platform for up to 50,000 email subscribers.
You should maintain a list of all the new subscribers and create different sections depending on their individual interest groups. That will help you tailor your newsletters according to the different prizes that you are offering. It’s vital that your automated email sequence is warm and encourages readers to interact with you further.
2. Choose Your “Giveaway”
In the earlier stages of building your author mailing list, don’t give away your personal work. That comes across as self-promotional, and most readers aren’t going to be interested in it since they won’t know anything about you as an author. So what should you give away to attract your audience? Many authors have found success by giving away packages of the 5 or 10 best-selling signed books in their genre. It’s a technique that most indie authors prefer using.
There are numerous advantages to this, as you’re giving away prizes in demand, which means you will generate a fair amount of traffic. You’ll also be doing other authors in your genre a favor, and author collaboration can be a vital tool further down the line. You can specifically target best-selling authors’ platforms, and they will share the competition, which opens doors to a whole new audience for your book.
You can offer prizes that are specific to your genre and not solely rely on books. For instance, you can offer reading lamps shaped like books and smaller prizes like posters, tickets, memorabilia, pictures, and anything that appeals to people who are interested in your genre.
3. Decide On a Service Provider for Your Giveaway
There are numerous types of software in the market that are suitable for giveaways such as, Gleam, KingSumo, and RaffleCopter. These websites track how many users are clicking on links and signing up for the author mailing list. The software used by them varies slightly. Many authors prefer KingSumo to collect a large number of email signups quickly. At the same time, RaffleCopter encourages an extensive range of sharing techniques and is the preferred option for contests that are smaller and specifically designed.
A good strategy would be to offer a large-scale giveaway with KingSumo and then offer a smaller contest using RaffleCopter, so that you generate interest among contestants to look at your social media platforms and blogs. Gleam offers a combination of these options by offering various ways that allow contestants to bid for prizes, such as giving extra entries for referring friends and asking contestants to write a blog post on why they are entering the competition and then sharing it.
4. Promoting the Giveaway
When it comes to promoting your giveaway, you will need to target influential people already in your genre. Start by making an email list of around 500 book bloggers in your genre and all the “BookTubers,” who will talk and review books on YouTube. These are influencers, and they already have platforms and traffic, and you can email them about the contest.
Another approach you can consider is Facebook targeted advertising. You can increase the number of subscribers signing up to your author mailing list through targeted advertising to people, groups, or pages. Find pages that are genre-specific to post your ads on so that they are viewed by people who are going to be interested in your giveaway.
The great thing about giveaways is that people are going to share them with you. With targeted Facebook advertising, you can easily reach a thousand people, and these people will promote your giveaway to all of their friends and family. It won’t necessarily go viral, but you will still get a lot of traffic. There are also other platforms you can use to promote your giveaway, like Paid Discovery from StumbleUpon, the advertising platform of Reddit, and Twitter’s promoted posts.
You should also think about collaborating with other people and authors who are giving away prizes. If you get involved in a shared competition, which promotes both your products, you will be pooling both contact lists and doubling the potential to gain new subscribers.
5. Create a Loyal Fanbase by Converting Giveaway Subscribers
Using giveaways to build an author mailing list has its fair share of criticism. There’s no guarantee that the subscribers will be interested in your work because you are dangling the carrot of free prizes to them. So, how will you create a loyal fanbase using this method? Most authors don’t tend to use their mailing list in the right manner. They end up giving away free stuff and then trying to sell their book immediately to these people.
That won’t work at all, because first, you need to educate them about who you are. They are only signing up for the free stuff and know nothing about you as an author. So, you should look to slowly introduce yourself to them before you even try to sell them your book. You should continue using smaller campaigns with RaffleCopter or Gleam, which link to your website and author blog, which subscribers can read if they are interested in them.
You need to ensure that this process is gradual to introduce yourself as an author to your list indirectly. Don’t try selling your book to this list in the beginning. Only use it for book reviews and free downloads. If you are giving away 1,000 copies of your book to this mailing list, you are giving them a reason to download it and review it. That will allow you to get hundreds of reviews in the first days of launching your book.
You already know that reviews are vital for successfully marketing a book. You need to get thousands of downloads to get a hundred reviews, and you won’t get them if you’re charging for your book in the beginning as a first-time author. Your giveaway subscribers aren’t going to be receptive to the ‘hard sell,’ and you will need to build a relationship with them first.
6. Regularly Contact Your Fanbase
You should send your author mailing list a monthly newsletter, like “Your Top 10 Books for 2021”, so that people open your emails regularly. You should provide a brief review of the books along with an Amazon link that directs them to purchase them. You will get a steady stream of cash flowing with the Amazon affiliate program through this method.
Eventually, you should inform your list that there are going to be no more giveaways, which will give you a firm idea of whether you have a loyal fanbase or not. Even if most of the people unsubscribe to your emails, the aim here is to have at least 1000 or 2000 people who are genuinely interested in your work and are going to be willing to buy your books in the future.
One thing that we haven’t mentioned throughout this process is the cost you will be incurring. When you are giving away stuff, it won’t be free for you, and if you’re promoting the giveaway through advertising, it can be even more expensive. On average, a campaign can cost you around $600 to $700, which does sound expensive.
However, it’s not uncommon for authors to spend that amount on marketing without getting any results over a longer period. The difference with this approach is that you can always reconnect with your subscribers for free in the future after the initial costs.