SFFMP 168: Mailing List Tips and The Three-year, No-bestseller Plan for Making a Sustainable Living from Your Fiction

Return guest Patty Jansen, who continues to make a great income from her fiction without being a mega seller, joined us today (live from Lindsay’s office) to talk about different types of mailing lists we can run as authors, organizing group promotions, and using a global approach to marketing that will gain you fans on all the platforms and all over the world. (She may be one of the few of us with a big fan-base in South Africa!)

Here are some of the specifics that we covered:

  • How Patty invests more into her series that are proven sellers with an 80% read-through rate.
  • What kinds of advertising she’s doing to keep a steady stream of new readers trying her books and signing up for her newsletters.
  • The Kboards post that led to her writing three books for authors, talking about the tactics she’s used to grow to a full-time income even without being a huge seller on Amazon or “sticking” there with new releases.
  • How she has found luck targeting markets that most people don’t advertise to because the countries don’t have Amazon stores (she specifically mentioned South Africa and sending people to her newsletter signup page where they could get free books).
  • Gauging trends and what’s working when you have more of a “long tail” approach.
  • How Patty is going to approach selling ARCs on her site of a series she will later release into KDP Select/Kindle Unlimited to give that a try.
  • Whether she is worried about pirate sites or not.
  • The different types of mailing lists Patty has (one is her author one and one is more of a promo mini-Bookbub style list) and how she goes about acquiring subscribers and making both profitable.
  • Which mailing list host you might want to consider — if you’re going to grow a list as large as you can, perhaps with group promos and Instafreebie, you’ll definitely want to get set up with a provider that’s cheaper at higher numbers of subscribers (she recommended MailerLite).
  • Some common mistakes that authors make in regard to mailing lists.
  • How she gauges success with her mailing lists (open rates, link clicks, etc.).
  • Whether authors need the mailing list hosts with higher tiered plans that offer more bells and whistles.
  • How often authors should email their subscribers.
  • Different types of auto-responder series that Patty has tried.
  • Using the WooCommerce WordPress plug-in for managing sales and email.
  • Whether it’s a good idea to ask questions and invite fans to email back.

You can visit Patty’s website for information about her books, the promo page there to be notified when she does her big 99-cent multi-author promos, and join the SF/F Cross Promo Bulletin Facebook group to link up with other authors wanting to do newsletter swaps.

If you’re interested in her non-fiction, the first book in her series is Self-publishing Unboxed (The Three-year, No-bestseller Plan For Making a Sustainable Living From Your Fiction Book 1).

If you want to try out her fiction, check out the first book in her scifi Ambassador series or fantasy fans can check out the first book in her Icefire Trilogy for free.

Also, check out the earlier shows that Patty was on:

 

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SFFMP 157: Advanced Newsletter Tactics, Set-It-and-Forget It Automation, and Cultivating a Relationship with Your Readers with Andrea Pearson

We had a very informative show tonight when non-fiction and fantasy author Andrea Pearson joined us to chat about one of her passions: newsletters! (Jo, Jeff, and Lindsay don’t share this passion, so it was great to get answers from a pro.) Andrea has written more than thirty novels across three pen names and also has a series of books for authors called Self-Publish Strong.

Here are some of the details of what we covered:

  • Doing a big promotional push at launch or waiting until your book has a good number of reviews?
  • Where to get reviews when you’re a newer author (These all cost money, but Andrea mentioned Booksprout, Jim Kukral’s Review Grabber Tool, and Book Rank’s review service.)
  • Whether to do a big promo push all at once or spread things out over weeks.
  • How to get noticed on other sites if you leave KDP Select/Kindle Unlimited and go wide.
  • If it makes sense putting together big boxed sets or exclusive content for any particular sites.
  • Launch strategies for a spinoff series or novel set in a world some of your readers are already familiar with.
  • Why Andrea published her YA fantasy series from scratch with new ASINs when she relaunched the series.
  • Being aware of “black hole” ages for characters if you’re writing middle grade or YA fiction (and also that the heroes should be older than the readers they’re aimed at).
  • What newsletter service Andrea recommends for authors (MailChimp) and why.
  • The seven-email autoresponder series she has set up (when a new subscriber signs up, he/she gets the first welcome email, and then more letters in a series spread out over the next several weeks).
  • Whether she does a different sequence or has different lists depending on where subscribers come from (i.e. free group promo or back-of-the-book signup)?
  • The importance of emailing subscribers regularly to keep sales flowing — Andrea lists her books in the post script of all her emails.
  • Zapier.com, a service she uses to help automate and deliver her bonuses for subscribers.
  • What aspects of newsletter delivery shouldn’t be automated?
  • Using exclusive content to get people to sign up (this works better for Andrea than giving away Book 2, something readers could simply buy, for free).
  • Andrea recommended the Dave Ramsey EntreLeadership podcast.
  • What to do to hopefully keep newsletters from getting stuck over in people’s Gmail promotions tab.
  • Giving away bonuses from other authors as part of an incentive to get readers to buy new releases.

Find Andrea online at her website, or check out her Facebook group for authors: Bookbub Promotions and More. Andrea also has a series of books under the Self-Publish Strong title. The most recent one isĀ How to Grow a Rock-Solid Newsletter List: Newsletter Marketing for Authors.

 

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