Before I get into my post, I want to give a brief update on my 12 TITLE IN 12 MONTHS Project. Last week I soft launched my June title, THE FLING.
Here's the summary:
Selena Crawford and Reuben Porche [por-shay] are lonely work-a-holics in need of a vacation. When both are forced into taking a vacation, they get a little more than the luxury Anguilla resort offered on the website.
This is a story that came about while I was trying to figure out what to write. When I started my project, I had a few of the titles written…the two Alex books, Love Notes, and The Good Girl Part Deux. There are two books I am probably going to use for the fourth quarter that were previously written. Otherwise, the rest of the titles are new. I’m excited. Praise God, because I am on track to completing my project. Once the project is complete, I’ll do a project summary post
Onto my post. There’s another project I've been working on this year...increasing my mailing list.
Like quite a few new authors, I didn't have a mailing list when I started. Let me backtrack. I have another business with a mailing list. However, I didn’t want to use that for my writing career. It was important to me to keep both entities separate. That decision meant I had to build my mailing list from scratch.
When it comes to building a mailing list, I'm sure I'm not alone in how I got my first subscribers…my family and friends. I'm very grateful for those early subscribers, however, I needed and wanted more subscribers. I set a goal of getting my list to 1000 subscribers by the end of this year. [As of this post, I’m at 780…YAY!]
One very important fact I keep in mind is that I have only been writing a few years and only published 18 months. It’s very easy to get caught up in the numbers. I’ve heard writers spouting out the size of their mailing lists and finding myself a little embarrassed at my small list. But I can’t let those numbers intimidate me because I’m still growing my base. Another reason for my 12 Titles project.
I came up with that project because I wanted to add to my inventory. I also thought the additional inventory would insight people to subscribe to my mailing list. If I had known earlier that I wanted to self-publish and how important a mailing list is, I would have concentrated on building my mailing list in conjunction with writing my first book. No use in crying over non-subscribers.
Now that I realize I need subscribers, I'm on a mission to hit my goal by the end of the year, if not sooner. So what's my plan? Or what have I done so far to get subscribers?
FREE BOOKS. That’s not a typo. We’ve all heard this before. You need to give something away to lure readers in and turn them into subscribers. I have to admit; I didn’t think this would work until I tried it. I’ve heard several writers say they have a title that's Perma Free. The thought of giving away something I worked hard to create, didn't appeal to me. Especially when I only had one published book. I looked at it as cutting off a possible revenue stream. But that couldn’t have been farther from the truth.
I may have mentioned this before. When I began editing THE ALEX CHRONICLES: WHAT MY FRIENDS DON’T KNOW, I deleted the first six chapters. I felt it was too much tell, not enough show. However, I thought there was some good stuff there. I was talking to Kitty Bucholtz about wanting to get something else out there before my next book, and she asked me if I had any discarded chapters I could turn into a novella. I instantly remembered those deleted chapters.
I tweaked them, got a cover and voila! I had a Perma-free book. I was ready to try this Freebie thing. I fondly refer to my freebie as "The Prequel". I have to be honest, I wasn’t too sure how this was going to work, but I was willing to give it a shot. I sent the freebie to my mailing list as well as posted it on my blog, Facebook, Pinterest, Tumblr, and Twitter. I also made it available wide…on Amazon, B&N, iBooks, and Draft2Digital.
As of writing this post, I have given away over 5000 copies of my prequel since it came out in October 2015. When I made peace with the idea of giving this title away, I never thought I’d give that many copies away. To be honest, I really haven’t given the book much thought. The reason for the laissez-faire attitude is because it’s a loss leader so to speak. I did discover that in some countries, it’s not possible to get the book for free on Amazon, so I’ve had a couple of paid downloads.
I’d like to say that all five thousand downloads became subscribers, but that’s not so.
SUBSCRIBER CAMPAIGNS. Since I put the Prequel out in October 2015, I’ve added 739 subscribers. Of course, you have to take the good with the bad. Since I began cultivating this list, I’ve had 52 unsubscribe. I tell myself not to freak out when someone unsubscribes, and then I ask God to replace those with people who really want to read my stories.
So far this year, I’ve participated in a few Subscriber Campaigns that have paid off very well. The Romance Readers Spring Fling and a couple of Instafreebie giveaways. These events are responsible for almost 700 subscribers. Again, I wasn’t a huge fan of the freebie, but it’s paid off. I should have kept better records as to how these free downloads affected my other books, but I didn’t. I do know there was sales activity around the same time as the free downloads. I recommend the freebie as a great way to add subscribers. So much so, that I am working on another freebie for later in the year. I have to admit; I got the idea from Beth Yarnell. It’s a sampler. I’m excited to see how this will affect my subscriber list.
FACEBOOK ADS. This is an area I am really excited about. Kitty told me about Mark Dawson’s Facebook Ads course. If you haven’t downloaded his free videos, do so immediately. And if you can take his course, jump on it. I used the three videos to set up my first Facebook Ad. I’ll preface this by saying, it ran it the same time I participated in an Instafreebie campaign.
I ran the ad for five days, at $5.00 per day. It was clicked on by 709 people and 46 subscribed to my mailing list. YAY! Not bad for a first timer. This got me to thinking. I’ve done blog tours in the past, and I have nothing but love for the blog tour companies. However, I never got any subscribers and saw very little sales action. I resolved myself that the blog tour was just to get my name out there. But after I watched Mark Dawson’s videos and did a five-day test run, I think I’ll channel the blog tour money into Facebook ads.
I spent approximately $150 on each blog tour, and that included two raffle gifts. One to a blogger host and the other to a reader following the tour. The tours lasted about four weeks each, not including weekends, and it doesn’t reach nearly as many people as the Facebook ad. When I set up my Facebook ad, it had a pool of over 300,000. I hope I read the report correctly. Either way, that’s a better response than I got from the blog tour. And that was just over a five day period. Imagine what it would have been had I did it for a month. [I’ve only done blog tours with my full-size novels.]
This month I’ll be trying the Facebook Ad again, but a little differently. I’ll let you know what I did and what the results are.
So what have I learned about building a mailing list? It’s not as difficult as I thought. I’m so excited about the things I’ve learned and the results so far in building my writer mailing list, that I’m going to try it with my lingerie business. I’ve created a little how-to guide as a freebie. I hear you now saying, “What do I need to know about lingerie that would fill a book?” You’d be surprised at what you don’t know. I know I was. Anyway, I’m very curious to see the results of my experiment.
Have a great Summer.