Marketing your books via newsletters…How does yours measure up?
Indie Author newsletters have suddenly become front and center in our indie universe. Suggestions about mailing lists have always hovered in the background like white noise: Authors need a newsletter/mailing list so when we have a new release, we shout it to our followers. Got it. The snag for me is I don’t produce a book a month or even every six months. I generated my first newsletter via Mad Mimi January 2014. I flogged my book and a few colleague’s books. I pump other author titles because I want to give value and keep my subscribers interested between my own releases and promotions. I kept a loose mailing schedule of once a month or once every six weeks. I did not pay much attention to performance, such as open and click through rate. Now I do. What an eye opener.
I have several subscriber lists in Mad Mimi so that I can stagger my newsletters over a 24 or 36 hour period. This happened in my most recent mailout. On one list of 2800 subscribers I pumped my new release, Count the Roses 99c. Within
a few hours Amazon reported 144 downloads. Wow. Of those 2800 subscribers, 950 opened and clicked through to my books, other author books I promoted and a Giveaway. A task in the Giveaway was to Follow the authors on Bookbub. After 12 hours I saw a jump of above 200 new followers on my Bookbub author page. Over the next 72 hours, more subscribers opened the newsletters…I saw a spike in KENP borrows. All together my newsletter moved 1023 units of my new release + crossover sales and I ended June 2016 with above 138,000 KENP.
Why are these figures so significant?
Because we indies buy promotion from promoters who tell us they have 100,000 to 300,000 subscribers. Yet! A $70 slot 10 days earlier on Count The Roses priced 99c did not generate even 100 downloads. Whoa. Promoters don’t like to tell us their open rates or click through rates. To learn if the promo is successful we have to watch the graph inside KDP which is updated hourly. Here is something else I’ve learned: Thus far, for every 5000 subscribers I see an attrition loss of 400. They unsubscribe. I have all of these stats available immediately. So do promoters who charge to put our books in newsletters.
Folks…it is time to come clean and share those performance rates with authors. We are happy to support a respected promoter. We’re giving you our trade. We need value for our promo $$, not hype. One reason we all love Bookbub and pray to the indie gods to snag a slot is on Bookbub’s pricing page we see cost/the download spread from lowest to highest in our genre. We know what we’re paying for. We can make an informed decision. Is that too much to ask? I don’t think so. In three years I’ve never heard of a Bookbub promo fail. One indie author disaster and you can read about it here. Even so, 22,000 Bookbub subscribers downloaded the book.
Here is another item of annoyance. Promoters want authors to subscribe. That is an artificial inflation of a subscriber list. Authors are not my audience or yours. We are all using the service to sell our books to readers. Some promoters are top heavy with authors. They do NOT move our books. In eNovel we know who they are and we don’t promote with them. Some give value for $10. But next have those add ons for Facebook and/or Twitter and the value sinks to China. Hey! I have two Twitter accounts with above 35,000 followers. I ain’t paying you to Tweet to your 6000 Followers. Get real. And after charging $10 for a Twitter boost, the promoter has the nerve to ask an author to share the promoter’s landing page with his or her Followers on Facebook/Google+/Twitter and Pinterest. The promoter wants ME to send my 35,000 Twitter followers to his/her site for FREE. What’s wrong with this picture? The answer: Offer a subscription to an Author only Newsletter. We love those.
What does this mean for promoters and indie authors? This: Indie authors are engaging in co-promotion and leaving out the middle man. We’re pitching in and engaging in Rafflecopters to grow our subscriber lists. We’re selling books. Moreover, we’re seeing a return on investment because our co-promotion costs are miniscule. We still promote with many of our fav small promoters. However, some are raising prices to offset the loss of affiliate fees and passing that expense onto the author with NO added value. That leaves us to evaluate each promotion again. On any given month not less than 20 eNovel members are in promotion. We gather a lot of stats and we share those in detail separating hype from reality. As we mature as indie authors we are learning how best to promote our books and with whom.
Bottom line: Our books have to pay for themselves.
Yes, they do. They have to pay the maintenance on our webpages and blogs and the cost of our newsletters. They have to pay our investment in cover artists, editors, copy editors, proofers, formatters. Here is a fun fact: When sitting at our keyboards writing our books we are not earning minimum wage~or any wage! Talk about which came first? The chicken or the egg…
Here is a new promoter just recently in the game. Just Kindle Books. Look what he posts on his Author Corner. I asked him how much time
and trouble to post these stats. He said no trouble and takes a couple of minutes. He can update PDQ. He shared his newsletter open rate, too. My open rate is better, but I nurture my subscribers by offering giveaways and swag and sometimes secret Rafflecopter just for my subscribers. I loosely schedule a newsletter every 22 days. Just Kindle Books is an entirely commercial daily newsletter as are most promoter newsletters. But open and click through rates are critical. If subscribers are not opening a newsletter and clicking the link, it ain’t moving your books or mine. Huzzah!
When we in eNovel report a promo fail to some reputable owners, we are kindly refunded our $$$. We have also had site owners tell us: “Write a better book.” I got that remark on a book sitting on Amazon with above 600 reviews ranked 4.3/5.0. Here’s a recent Review by a reader: “Jackie blows away all other romance novels! The characters are vivid, the story intriguing, the humanity believable (even the ghost), and the experience a medicine for the soul. I read reviews that you couldn’t put this one down, believe it!” I don’t know how much better I can write the thing. Bookbub subscribers downloaded it to the tune of 75,000+ and wrote all of those nice reviews. Okay. I’m done.
I’m Jackie Weger, founder of eNovel Authors at Work. Our members don’t know it all…but collectively we know a lot and we know BS when we hear it. Comments Welcome. Be nice. If you can’t be nice, be articulate. Add to the discussion. Facts welcome. I shoot rumors with my snake gun.
You awesome author! Pay it Forward. Please share this ready-made Tweet. Who knows? Maybe an indie god will sprinkle your book with fairy dust and it will soar to stardom. Thank you bunches.
PS: Just in from Christian Hupfeld: eReaderIQ is back in business and accepting submissions. Fees are just right.