Happy Summer to everyone. I hope you had an amazing Fourth of July.
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 writtenâ€¦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. Iâ€™m excited. Praise God, because I am on track to completing my project. Once the project is complete, Iâ€™ll do a project summary post
Onto my post. Thereâ€™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 didnâ€™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 subscribersâ€¦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, Iâ€™m at 780â€¦YAY!]
One very important fact I keep in mind is that I have only been writing a few years and only published 18 months. Itâ€™s very easy to get caught up in the numbers. Iâ€™ve heard writers spouting out the size of their mailing lists and finding myself a little embarrassed at my small list. But I canâ€™t let those numbers intimidate me because Iâ€™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. Thatâ€™s not a typo. Weâ€™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 didnâ€™t think this would work until I tried it. Iâ€™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 couldnâ€™t have been farther from the truth.
I may have mentioned this before. When I began editing THE ALEX CHRONICLES: WHAT MY FRIENDS DONâ€™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 wasnâ€™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 wideâ€¦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 Iâ€™d give that many copies away. To be honest, I really havenâ€™t given the book much thought. The reason for the laissez-faire attitude is because itâ€™s a loss leader so to speak. I did discover that in some countries, itâ€™s not possible to get the book for free on Amazon, so Iâ€™ve had a couple of paid downloads.
Iâ€™d like to say that all five thousand downloads became subscribers, but thatâ€™s not so.
SUBSCRIBER CAMPAIGNS. Since I put the Prequel out in October 2015, Iâ€™ve added 739 subscribers. Of course, you have to take the good with the bad. Since I began cultivating this list, Iâ€™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, Iâ€™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 wasnâ€™t a huge fan of the freebie, but itâ€™s paid off. I should have kept better records as to how these free downloads affected my other books, but I didnâ€™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. Itâ€™s a sampler. Iâ€™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 Dawsonâ€™s Facebook Ads course. If you havenâ€™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. Iâ€™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. Iâ€™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 Dawsonâ€™s videos and did a five-day test run, I think Iâ€™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 doesnâ€™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, thatâ€™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. [Iâ€™ve only done blog tours with my full-size novels.]
This month Iâ€™ll be trying the Facebook Ad again, but a little differently. Iâ€™ll let you know what I did and what the results are.
So what have I learned about building a mailing list? Itâ€™s not as difficult as I thought. Iâ€™m so excited about the things Iâ€™ve learned and the results so far in building my writer mailing list, that Iâ€™m going to try it with my lingerie business. Iâ€™ve created a little how-to guide as a freebie. I hear you now saying, â€œWhat do I need to know about lingerie that would fill a book?â€ Youâ€™d be surprised at what you donâ€™t know. I know I was. Anyway, Iâ€™m very curious to see the results of my experiment.