Effective Email Marketing Strategies for Authors

Effective Email Marketing Strategies for Authors

Aerio Staff

A well-organized author email marketing strategy has been known to help increase book sales.

However, emails can get missed or ignored so you must take the time to create an effective email marketing campaign. You want your emails to be read by both established and potential fans of your writing. That's why it's crucial to employ a successful email marketing plan that builds and maintains relationships with your readers.

Email Marketing Campaign Ideas for Authors

There are countless ways you can use email marketing to engage readers and ultimately boost sales. Sending out an occasional message is not one of them. Your email campaign will be more successful if you plan ahead and strategize your content. A few examples of how you can use email marketing campaigns include:

  • Pre-Order Campaigns

Emails about preorders create buzz about your book. And because they aren't counted as sales until the day your book is released, they help boost your chances of having a top seller on day one. According to a recent Publishers Weekly article, indie authors can start preorders 12 months ahead of the release date. That's a lot of time to boost your sales ranking! Use email to build anticipation and market your book before it’s ready. Allow readers to preorder your book via handy links.

  • Monthly/Weekly Newsletters

Regular, well-written email newsletters are a great way to keep your name out there. Schedule a frequency that works for you and provide engaging content about yourself, your work, the publishing industry, and information on topics related to your book. Don’t be afraid to get creative and be engaging! For example, debut author Lia Huber sent recipes to readers who signed up for her newsletter, a practice she started months before the release of her successful memoir, "Nourished."

  • Featured Books

Your emails should feature your books in a variety of ways. Use one email to highlight your nonfiction work; or your new, upcoming, or ongoing fantasy series. Create another email for just the children's books you've written, or those that pertain to a specific topic. Rotate your features and explore different ways to group your work for future emails.

  • Personalized Thank-You Messages

Readers love hearing directly from their favorite authors. An email with a personal thank-you messages makes readers feel appreciated and helps maintain your author-reader relationship, which can equate to increased future sales.

  • Contests & Giveaways

Schedule contests that reward winners with your book or author swag. Offer free chapters and giveaways on a regular basis so readers know there's more ahead. Bestselling author and productivity guru Tim Ferriss recently set up a giveaway for tech goodies that help readers accomplish the goals he writes about. Imagine how that boosted his email and book readership! Free iPad, anyone?

  • New Releases

Use email to keep your own new and future releases on the minds of your readers. The more often they hear about your book, the more likely they are to buy it.

Tips & Best Practices

Any email marketing strategy for authors should adhere to best practices that include the basics (get email addresses correct) as well as the gold standard (write edited, entertaining, effective content).

Segment your email list. Use targeted email lists to reach various segments of your readership including loyal fans, potential readers, those in certain geographical areas, etc. Offer preferences regarding frequency so you don't annoy or bore readers. Too much content can be a bad thing!

Select an email marketing platformthat fits your needs. Email platforms like Constant Contact, MailChimp, and GetResponse provide valuable analytics you can't get from sending emails through Gmail or Outlook. Depending on how many contacts you're trying to reach, some platforms are free or at least reasonably priced.

Be engaging with your subject line and message.Use the subject line to ask a question or offer something of value, and use words that create buzz and excitement (e.g., exclusive, special, new). Your subject line and message should also be relevant, personal, and creative -- every time.

Be honest and protect readers' privacy.Make sure readers know what they're getting when they sign up for your author email updates, and don't share information about your readers unless they've authorized you to do so.

Set realistic goals.Don't commit to a weekly email if you can't stick to it and don't expect a bestseller due to your email marketing strategy alone. Use feedback data to set future goals. For example, if readers aren't clicking on all your links, lower your click-through expectations and try only using links that send readers to pages where they can purchase your book. If your analytics show high click and/or participation rates for surveys and giveaways, incorporate more of these activities into your future emails and expect your open rates to increase.

Always Compare Your Results

Know the open rates, click-rates, and unsubscribe rates for the writing/publishing industry and compare your own rates. Access and utilize marketing data analytics to see if your emails are doing the job. The email marketing platform Constant Contact reports an open rate of about 14 percent and an unsubscribe rate of .06 percent for the publishing industry. How do your rates compare? If your unsubscribe rate is high, you may want to experiment with re-writing your subject lines or reconsider your audience and, most importantly, the quality of your content.

Email marketing for authors can be highly effective when it comes to boosting sales. Readers don't read every email newsletter they get, but they read the ones they like. Take the time to create an email strategy that incorporates specific email marketing tips for authors, and start increasing your fan base - and your sales ranking - today.