Paul Heingarten mainly writes science fiction and fantasy, with the occasional detour into general fiction. A musician for most of his life and an IT professional because it pays the bills, he lives in South Louisiana with his wife Andrea. In addition to sharing his passion for writing with his wife and the local Bayou Writer's Club they belong to, he's also a die-hard Saints fan.
Email List Building
I’ve been publishing on Amazon since July 2015, and in the months and years since I’ve been delving into a lot of online forums, Facebook groups, chats with fellow authors, etc. Of all the bits of advice I’ve gotten, one that has been pretty repetitive is “build an email list”. The idea of this of course is to have a collection of people you can email about your books and have them buy them. Makes sense, right?
By 2017, I finally got the hint and started a MailChimp account and started building a list. It was slow going at first. I quickly made it through all my friends with Bayou Writers and Facebook friends and family. I had a small list to begin with, made up mostly of people who knew me one way or another, and were nice enough to let me send them random book spam now and then.
But, email lists for some authors are enormous! I’ve met authors with lists over 30,000 email addresses for example! That led me to the next step in my process, a “reader magnet”. What this is, is something free to give people for signing up to your list. It can be a few chapters of a book you’ve written, a short story, or something similar. I wrote a short story specifically to give to people if they signed up for my list. I used the service Bookfunnel, which allowed me to put a copy of my short story “Natural Election” (In e-reader format) online, with a link I only sent to people once they signed up for my list.
I went a step further with Bookfunnel and upgraded my account there, which allowed me to also add people to my email list once they chose to download my books from Bookfunnel. I then added a second short story, “The Monitor” as a free download. I’ll explain why I did this in a bit.
Even with a list and now something free to offer people, I still had to get the word out. I mean, I have a website, an email list and something free to give people, but so what? There are millions, if not billions of sites out there all offering something, and the masses don’t have a clue about mine, unless I promote it somehow.
Enter the marketing services. Fortunately, the Bookfunnel community has a variety of promotion groups that run on a regular basis. On their site, in their Promotions area, you’ll find a listing by genre of promotions that run for a certain period of time. What the promotions on Book Funnel are, is a website hosted by someone with a Bookfunnel account, who hosts a giveaway on their site. They allow other Bookfunnel users to submit their books/short stories/etc. that are on Bookfunnel to the promotion. Once you’re approved, your book (that links back to your email list signup offer) will be displayed on the promotion site for the duration. More importantly, people who access the promotion and click your book will become subscribers to your email list! Your requirement is to promote the specific link they give you everywhere you can: on Facebook or your other social media accounts, and yes even your own list. Don’t think you’re not going to be expected to do some plugging here, as lately more and more of these Bookfunnel giveaway links are tracked for number of clicks.
The promotions are essential because it gets your book out to a much wider audience, who are already into the genre you’re writing! My current strategy has been to use “The Monitor” in these Bookfunnel promotions, which gets me new email list signups. Those who sign up, are given the chance to download my other free story “Natural Election”.
Since starting this strategy, my list has grown a good deal. I’m sitting at 1264 on my list now. That’s still not a gigantic list by the standards of some authors, but list building is a long and arduous process. And more so, by having somewhat of a list, I’m able to participate in “newsletter swaps” with other authors in my genre, where I agree to include links to their books in my newsletter in exchange for them adding my book links to their newsletter. Using this method alone so far in 2019, I’ve sold over 20 books and have gotten over 1000 page reads through Kindle Unlimited!