A Guest Post by Book Marketing Coach Colleen Riordan
Imagine for a moment that your books sell like cronuts in Brooklyn every time you publish a new title. Readers are flocking to the bookstores. They’re hyping your book everywhere—even before they’ve had the pleasure of cracking it open.
It’s the dream, right?
Avid readers want good stories. They want your stories. And, if they’re anything like you, then you know how excited these bookworms get. They’re scouring Goodreads and book blogs right and left, on the prowl for their next favorite story. But, they can’t love your book if they don’t know it exists.
This is precisely why authors need email.
The best book marketing, in its simplest form, is just passionately sharing your story with the readers who already want it.
Email makes that easy.
The 3 Myths of Author Email
Authors often argue that they don’t need to use email to communicate with readers. They feel it’s unnecessary, outdated, and time-consuming.
Can you blame them? Social media is exciting and ubiquitous. It’s easy to throw email to the wayside and chase the shiny new toys. Email has been around since the 1970’s, but that doesn’t mean it’s out-of-date. In fact, email is one of the most effective marketing tools today.
Let’s tackle some of the myths that authors believe about why they don’t need to email readers.
Myth 1: Email is unnecessary. Readers will find the books if they really want them.
Imagine if you had an email list of people eager to read your books the moment they get published. These readers are already passionate about what you do, which means they’re more likely to preorder or run out to the bookstore during that first week. If you had enough fans like that, you could hit the bestseller lists book after book.
The book industry has a vast reach. Books are promoted on television, social media, newspapers, and park benches. It’s fantastic because at any moment you might stumble across your next favorite story.
However, books have a lot of competition. Over your average day, you have access to entertainment non-stop. Your phone, computer, television, and radio are filled with high quality content. A great book has to break through all of that noise.
Take a moment to think about how you found the last book you read.
Did you stumble across it on the library shelves? Did your best friend gush about it for weeks? Did you use specific keywords to search for it (or something like it) online?
Most of us don’t have a system for discovering new books. We hear about them on television. We spot our favorite authors reading them on Instagram. We ask our librarians for recommendations.
But between the incredible entertainment already at our fingertips and the sheer volume of advertising we see everyday, even the most die-hard fans are missing out on new book announcements.
Typically, books in a series are published a year apart. That’s a long time for a reader to wait. You can’t expect them to religiously check your website or the bookstore on the first of each month, eagerly awaiting the next book’s release.
Can you see the flaws in this system?
You can’t rely on fate to notify readers about your books. It’s not reliable. It’s not repeatable. You need a method of notifying readers about your books every time something comes out.
If you want to a career as an author, you can’t put the responsibility of hearing about your books on your readers. You need to reach out to them and tell them about these amazing stories. This is why email is perfect.
Myth 2: Email is outdated because social media has taken over the internet.
Social media is an entertaining way to interact with readers. You can quickly share photos, broadcast new messages, and engage with fans in real-time.
So, why not only use social media?
Social media networks like Facebook let readers follow their favorite author’s online presence. Here’s the catch: Facebook is not a direct communication channel. When an author posts their latest book announcement to their Facebook page or profile, Facebook’s algorithm decides which of your followers see it and when.
On average, less than 8% of your audience will see one of your organic posts on Facebook. These are your everyday, unpaid posts. For the average business page, the rate goes down to 2%. That means that a very small portion of your audience is seeing the post you worked so hard to create.
This percentage is variable of course. If you have an incredibly active and engaged audience who love you and regularly comment on your posts or share them, the algorithm will broadcast your posts to more of your followers. However, it still won’t be all of your followers.
Now, 8% might seem tiny, but it doesn’t mean you should skip Facebook entirely. It just means you shouldn’t put all your eggs in one basket. All of your social networks have this problem. You simply cannot reach everyone who is following you.
Why? Because Facebook—or whichever social network you’re using—is the middleman. You don’t get to decide who sees your posts. They do.
Social media networks limit the reach of a post for several reasons.
First, they tailor the newsfeed experience for individuals to show them more of what they already like and less of what they don’t. This is based off the how often someone engages with posts like yours and how much engagement your posts get.
Second, social media is technically considered ‘free.’ (It’s not. You’re exchanging your data for use of their platform.) However, Twitter, Facebook, and the rest of the social media networks are all businesses that need to make money to survive. One of the ways they monetize their platforms is by asking you to pay to reach more people through ads or sponsored posts.
With email, there is no middleman deciding who sees your message.
It’s direct communication. You write, and your subscribers get to make the active choice about whether they’ll read your email.
Myth 3: Email is difficult and takes time away from writing.
As you can see from what we covered in the previous two myths, you can’t afford to NOT use email.
Without email, you’re taking the risk that even your biggest fans will never find the sequel to books they already loved. They won’t get the chance to share your new release on social media or borrow it from a friend. You’ll waste weeks on carefully constructed social media posts promoting something that few followers will ever see.
To choose to avoid email is to choose to spend more time on your marketing just to reach the same number (or less) of people.
Imagine having an eager audience just waiting to hear from you—with a smile and open arms.
With email, you can have that.
At the core of your book marketing, you need a reliable, one-on-one method for communicating with your fanbase. Email excels at creating real relationships with your readers.
In the author-reader relationship, it’s your responsibility to reach out with news about your upcoming releases, entertaining activities, and book signings or events. Readers have a plethora of entertainment to choose from. You can’t even become a choice if they don’t know you have something coming out.
Through email, you can personalize your messages and treat each subscriber as a unique, book-loving, fan—not just an email address. When your emails are entertaining, educational, and/or aspirational, you are rewarding each and every one of your fans, who will in turn, share their love of your books with the world.
Colleen Riordan is a book marketing coach and the founder of Wild Ink Marketing. She has over eight years of experience in marketing and communications and a deep passion for teaching authors and illustrators how to sell more books and build their careers through the power of book marketing.
To learn more about Colleen and Wild Ink Marketing, please visit Colleen at https://www.wildinkmarketing.com/.
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