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SPF-011: Everything you always wanted to know about Mailing Lists (but were afraid to ask)

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When Mark Dawson first started seeing success as a self published author he was a bit late to the game when it came to interacting with those who were showing interest in his books. The best they could do was to buy his book, read it, then search Amazon for any other books he might have written. It wasn’t a very reader centric approach and not what Mark wanted. That’s when he started investigating the various ways he could interact with his readers via email lists. In this episode you’ll get to hear the story of how Mark first approached the issue, the mistakes he made, and the many helpful things he’s learned about truly engaging with readers that make them happy to hear from you and even eager to help you promote your writing to others.

How NOT to create an email list.

At first Mark knew that he had to have some kind of email list but didn’t really know how to start. His first step was to include his private email address in the back of each of his books. It was better than nothing, but became very cumbersome since he was adding each person to a spreadsheet and then bulk emailing everyone from his private email account each time he had something to communicate. He quickly learned that the time it took him to do all of that work could be mitigated through using a free service like MailChimp. Mark talks through how he made the switch and the huge benefits he’s seen from using an email provider of this type.

But isn’t email being used less and less these days?

James asks Mark whether he thinks email is still useful in the modern day. Studies and articles frequently report that people are turning to text and instant messaging platforms rather than email. But Mark’s convinced that email is still the very best way to communicate with fans and makes his case for why that’s so in this conversation. You’ll learn a lot about why email is powerfully important to your brand and future book sales as well as how to go about reaching out to your audience in a way that is natural and effective.

What sort of tone should you write with in your emails?

Mark believes that everyone can effectively write email sequences and truly connect with their readers. They know how to be themselves. If you keep in mind the fact that anyone who signs up for your email list is doing so because they are interested in you and your writing, you’ll realize that the thing they are wanting to get to know is you. So be you. Take the time to put some of yourself into your emails in a natural, unapologetic way. You’ll be giving your readers what they want from their interaction with you and also provide a way for them to feel like they are on the “inside track” when it comes to your books and your brand.

The nuts and bolts of email software and services.

What you’re probably the most interested in learning is how to set up an email service to begin creating your email list. James and Mark walk through the basics of how Mark did it, what services he considered and the one he finally went with, why he made that choice, how he uses his email list on a regular basis to drive interaction and book sales, and the benefits he’s derived from having an active, engaged readership that communicates with him via his email list.

Outline of this great episode

  • [0:21] The introduction today’s topic: Mailing lists for Authors.
  • [1:27] A special announcement (it’s exciting!).
  • [3:20] The importance of a mailing list cannot be underestimated.
  • [4:20] The difference a mailing list has made to Mark’s career.
  • [5:40] Why Mark is convinced email is still the best way to communicate with fans.
  • [8:10] The different types of emails that you can send out and how they work.
  • [9:41] Using your email list to solicit help from readers to launch your books.
  • [12:45] The importance of “tone” in your emails.
  • [15:48] How Mark started his first email list.
  • [19:27] James’ tips for MailChimp beginners.
  • [21:59] What is a double opt-in?
  • [24:10] How do you create different lists and why?
  • [26:15] How to use the information from your emails to refine the process.
  • [29:00] Great ideas for getting more subscribers from your readership.
  • [31:50] The personal touch you can have through your email list.
  • [33:47] Tips and tricks about mailing list strategies.
  • [36:16] Using advanced email service providers.
  • [40:29] Get Mark’s April income report.  

Resources & Links mentioned in this episode

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SPF-003: Interview with Hybrid Author Marie Force

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In podcast number 3, Mark and James are joined by the sensational Marie Force. Marie has developed a seven figure publishing operation with a mix of both self publishing and traditional publishing deals. They discuss her marketing tips as well as Marie’s advice to authors setting out to build a platform for better sales. They also discuss her unique approach to reader relationships which involve annual gatherings in her native Rhode Island.

Show Notes

  • In the introduction Mark talks about the ways he uses Scrivener writing software, and about his latest book launch.
  • Marie Force shares the strategy she had from the beginning of her writing career of connecting with her readers and staying in touch with them.
  • On the genesis of Marie’s Reader Weekends and the events that take place at this annual gathering.
  • Also the ROI that Marie gets from the event.
  • Marie’s beginnings as a writer and her early struggles with frustration, and her progress from there to running a multi-million dollar author business with several employees.
  • On Marie’s writing process and production, her monthly word count and the tools she uses.
  • Marie’s thoughts on working with a traditional publisher.
  • The marketing strategies that are most successful for Marie, including TV advertising.
  • The one piece of advice Marie would give new authors.
  • On genre specific covers, and learning new lessons all the time.
  • Why a long-term outlook matters to indie authors who want to build careers.

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