Author Topic: People on your mailing list who have never read any of your books  (Read 908 times)  

Offline Marie Long

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Yes, another newsletter/mailing list question!

How do you reach out or connect with these people who have never read any of your books, but they are on your mailing list(and have been on there for a very long time)? Is this a good or bad thing to have these types of subscribers?? What if this is the majority of your mailing list subscriber base? Is it a wasted effort to attempt to continue to advertise your books to them?
« Last Edit: March 16, 2017, 01:37:00 PM by Marie Long »

Offline Kyra Halland

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Re: People on your newsletter who have never read any of your books
« Reply #1 on: March 16, 2017, 01:12:15 PM »
How do you know if they've never read any of your books?


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Offline Marie Long

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Re: People on your newsletter who have never read any of your books
« Reply #2 on: March 16, 2017, 01:33:10 PM »
How do you know if they've never read any of your books?

I did a reader survey and asked that question.

Offline Bards and Sages (Julie)

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Re: People on your newsletter who have never read any of your books
« Reply #3 on: March 16, 2017, 01:41:40 PM »
I once did a survey of my subscribers. For point of reference, it is a monthly newsletter, not just a new release newsletter.

The majority of my subscribers had never purchased anything from me when they first signed up. They originally signed up for some other reason (like to get the Quarterly for free, enter a contest, etc). On average, my subscribers waited three months before they bought their first item. So they read three newsletters before they finally decided to purchase something. A small percentage remained on the list almost a year before they purchased anything. There are still a few who have never bought anything, but stay subscribed to get the Quarterly each issue.

And I am fine with that.

In my opinion, if these people are reading my newsletter every month, they are engaged. Even if they aren't buying anything, they are reading the newsletter and are interested (to the point that they bother to take the surveys!). It isn't like it costs me all that much to keep them on my subscriber list. And if they are bothering to read and take surveys, they may also be telling their friends about me, or recommending me to their local library, or encouraging a local con to invite me.


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Offline Marie Long

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Re: People on your mailing list who have never read any of your books
« Reply #4 on: March 16, 2017, 01:52:28 PM »
I once did a survey of my subscribers. For point of reference, it is a monthly newsletter, not just a new release newsletter.

The majority of my subscribers had never purchased anything from me when they first signed up. They originally signed up for some other reason (like to get the Quarterly for free, enter a contest, etc). On average, my subscribers waited three months before they bought their first item. So they read three newsletters before they finally decided to purchase something. A small percentage remained on the list almost a year before they purchased anything. There are still a few who have never bought anything, but stay subscribed to get the Quarterly each issue.

And I am fine with that.

In my opinion, if these people are reading my newsletter every month, they are engaged. Even if they aren't buying anything, they are reading the newsletter and are interested (to the point that they bother to take the surveys!). It isn't like it costs me all that much to keep them on my subscriber list. And if they are bothering to read and take surveys, they may also be telling their friends about me, or recommending me to their local library, or encouraging a local con to invite me.



Hey, thanks, Julie. Never thought of it that way. I know everyone keeps talking about how mailing lists are important, because your subscribers are the ones who are supposedly fans of you and your books, but it just seems weird that I've gotten this sort of response. I'm trying to find ways to keep people on my list and maybe encourage them to pick up one of my books. Some of my subscribers have been on my list for a couple of years since I first opened my mailchimp account, and they haven't bought anything. I haven't given away free stories or anything. Just occasionally, I'll do a free swag giveaway. I only release newsletters when I have something relevant to say, so this can be 1 month or several months, so it's not like I'm spamming my subscribers.

I really hope my current subscriber base will have a positive impact as it has for you...

Offline Kyra Halland

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Re: People on your newsletter who have never read any of your books
« Reply #5 on: March 16, 2017, 01:59:04 PM »
I did a reader survey and asked that question.

Okay, I was wondering. Because I know if you're going by clicks on the newsletter, a lot of people don't buy by clicking there, or they have the tracking blocked. But a survey, that's interesting.

I'd say unless having them on your list is costing you extra, keep them. Like Julie says, they're still engaged (going so far as to answer a survey) and you never know when they'll decide to take the plunge or if they're recommending your book to others. If they're really not interested, they can unsubscribe.

On the other hand, if it's costing a lot to keep them, maybe do a "do you still want to be on my newsletter list?" to weed out anyone who's really not interested.


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Offline Catana

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Re: People on your mailing list who have never read any of your books
« Reply #6 on: March 16, 2017, 03:41:30 PM »
Maybe you should consider some free reads instead of swag. I might be more inclined to buy a book from an author if I'd read and enjoyed a short freebie. It could be a short story (flash fiction, maybe, if you don't have a long of time for shorts), or more usefully, excerpts from a book you want to promote.

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Offline Crystal_

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Re: People on your mailing list who have never read any of your books
« Reply #7 on: March 16, 2017, 04:32:30 PM »
I don't remove organic signups.

I will prune giveaway signups every so often. I'll remove people who don't open five emails in a row. Mostly to keep costs down. Once you start doing lots of giveaways, your non-organic list can get pretty big. (I keep several different lists).

Offline Marie Long

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Re: People on your mailing list who have never read any of your books
« Reply #8 on: March 17, 2017, 12:52:34 PM »
Maybe you should consider some free reads instead of swag. I might be more inclined to buy a book from an author if I'd read and enjoyed a short freebie. It could be a short story (flash fiction, maybe, if you don't have a long of time for shorts), or more usefully, excerpts from a book you want to promote.

I have promoted the first book in my series in my newsletter when it was free for a limited time around September/October of last year. I did get a lot of people click on the link in my newsletter according to the click map in Mailchimp. Apparently those who got the free book either did not bother doing the survey, didn't do the survey yet, or they unsubscribed since then, or they just got the free book and never read it, or they just clicked on the link but never downloaded the book based on the survey replies I've received so far.

So far, out of my 1166 mailing list subscribers, only 16 completed the survey. Out of that 16, 3 of them have read at least one of my books. I'm leaving the survey up for a few months at least, or whenever I send out my next newsletter. I don't send them out very often. Only when I have something relevant to say. I'd rather not keep saying 'still working on the book' all the time.

I really want to challenge someone who is savvy about mailing lists who has this similar issue with a question about what to do in this situation. Is promoting my books to my mailing list a wasted effort? I feel like I need some direction on where to go and what to do with my subscriber base to keep them engaged, but also to turn them into 'fans/super fans' of my work, as I've heard people like Mark Dawson and the other self pub podcast people keep saying whenever they mention mailing lists. I feel like I'm in a really weird situation that I don't think many people have been in since I haven't seen this question asked in Kboards before...

Offline Patty Jansen

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Re: People on your mailing list who have never read any of your books
« Reply #9 on: March 17, 2017, 01:25:12 PM »
OK, first up, you will get 80-90% of your responses to an email within 24 hours. The rest will trickle in over the next few days. Leave the survey up for week and you'll have all the responses you're going to get, ever.

Secondly, 1000 is a small list. If you have done one competition giveaway, the giveaway peeps will take up a really prominent part of it.

Thirdly, it really depends on how you got them on your list, and which giveaway you used. I use giveaways a lot, but your own giveaways and the cross-promotion giveaways with other authors far outperform anything else you will get. Some of the commercial giveaway places I would actively warn against.

Fourth, if you give away a book in exchange for an email address, whether you do this over a long time or as part of an organised giveaway, you acquire the right to try to convince those people into reading your books. That's it. They're not your fans. You can make them your fans.

Fifth, by far the biggest wrong assumption I see people making all the time is that they assume that the people who are on their mailing list--whether from giveaways *or* organic--have read all their books. They usually haven't. If they're organic signups, they may have read one series. It's up to you to convince them to read the rest.

Sixth, when they sign up, those peeps aren't yours yet. You have to turn them into fans by offering them ARCs, by offering them sneak peeks, cover reveals etc. Ask them to help name a character. Make them invested and ask them questions.

Seventh, turning them into fans, weeding out non-openers, getting them to buy, takes TIME. They may need to see a number of emails from you before they finally decide to buy.

Eight, if you worry about non-engaged peeps on your list and your list is only small (like, less than 10k) and you're worried about this because of cost, you're with the wrong email provider.

If done well, you can develop your list into your own little Bookbub, and you will hardly have to spend any extra money advertising except for 1. constantly acquiring new emails and 2. the cost of having them there. In my case, this is about $40/month for email acquisition through Instafreebie and joint author promotions (the ones where you all toss in $10 for a Kindle and share the addresses), and $500 per year for Mailerlite up to 30k addresses and 235 Euros (sorry, non-European here, don't know how to do the Euro sign) for Sendyhosting.

I buy Bookbub when they'll have me, but I'm doing a promo for a new release with the likes of Bargain Booksy, ENT etc. and IMO it's barely worth spending money on those anymore because the response I get from my own list is so much better. So I consider the costs in the above paragraph an alternative to spending on ads. As a bonus, I get to keep the addresses and can advertise to them whenever I like without having to pay for it again.

Offline Marie Long

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Re: People on your mailing list who have never read any of your books
« Reply #10 on: March 17, 2017, 01:45:22 PM »
OK, first up, you will get 80-90% of your responses to an email within 24 hours. The rest will trickle in over the next few days. Leave the survey up for week and you'll have all the responses you're going to get, ever.

Secondly, 1000 is a small list. If you have done one competition giveaway, the giveaway peeps will take up a really prominent part of it.

Thirdly, it really depends on how you got them on your list, and which giveaway you used. I use giveaways a lot, but your own giveaways and the cross-promotion giveaways with other authors far outperform anything else you will get. Some of the commercial giveaway places I would actively warn against.

Fourth, if you give away a book in exchange for an email address, whether you do this over a long time or as part of an organised giveaway, you acquire the right to try to convince those people into reading your books. That's it. They're not your fans. You can make them your fans.

Fifth, by far the biggest wrong assumption I see people making all the time is that they assume that the people who are on their mailing list--whether from giveaways *or* organic--have read all their books. They usually haven't. If they're organic signups, they may have read one series. It's up to you to convince them to read the rest.

Sixth, when they sign up, those peeps aren't yours yet. You have to turn them into fans by offering them ARCs, by offering them sneak peeks, cover reveals etc. Ask them to help name a character. Make them invested and ask them questions.

Seventh, turning them into fans, weeding out non-openers, getting them to buy, takes TIME. They may need to see a number of emails from you before they finally decide to buy.

Eight, if you worry about non-engaged peeps on your list and your list is only small (like, less than 10k) and you're worried about this because of cost, you're with the wrong email provider.

If done well, you can develop your list into your own little Bookbub, and you will hardly have to spend any extra money advertising except for 1. constantly acquiring new emails and 2. the cost of having them there. In my case, this is about $40/month for email acquisition through Instafreebie and joint author promotions (the ones where you all toss in $10 for a Kindle and share the addresses), and $500 per year for Mailerlite up to 30k addresses and 235 Euros (sorry, non-European here, don't know how to do the Euro sign) for Sendyhosting.

I buy Bookbub when they'll have me, but I'm doing a promo for a new release with the likes of Bargain Booksy, ENT etc. and IMO it's barely worth spending money on those anymore because the response I get from my own list is so much better. So I consider the costs in the above paragraph an alternative to spending on ads. As a bonus, I get to keep the addresses and can advertise to them whenever I like without having to pay for it again.

When I first started the list about 2-3 years ago, I got a lot of the subscribers via mass-author giveaways/Rafflecopter/etc. and almost reached the 2k limit. After sending my first newsletter to them, many of them unsubscribed -- so many that Mailchimp sent me a warning about being a potential spambot. Needless to say, I'll never do giveaways like that again. I think most of the subscribers are gone now. There may be a few lingering. I did the landing page thing like Mark Dawson, etc. and the rest of the podcast people talk about, and also put the link to sign up in the front and back of all my books. When book 1 of my series was free, I had the link in the front and back. I had a Bookbub and got about 12k downloads, and only 1 or 2 people subscribe to the list. The book is no longer free, but when you preview the book in Amazon, the mailing list signup link is there, so anyone can still join that way. I continue to get occasional signups, which I assume is from the links in my books, and/or the landing page of my website. Also, when I go to book signings, I have a sign-up sheet at my table for people to sign up that way. I manually add them to my list when I get home.

I'm not expecting everyone who signs up to read all of my books, but what is your goal for being on an author's mailing list if you aren't interested in their books? That's what boggles me. It's like ordering an ice cream sundae, but you're lactose intolerant.

I occasionally go through my list and delete addresses that have hard and soft-bounced too many times. I also delete 1-star rated addresses that haven't interacted (either opened or clicked anything) with at least 5 newsletters.

I'm not worried about cost, because yes, my list is small. But I would rather have 5 engaged subscribers than a thousand non-engaged ones and I feel like I'm talking to an empty room whenever I send a newsletter. If these people have not unsubscribed yet, then I want to know why, and what I can do to get them excited and engaged about me and my work rather than taking up space.

Offline Patty Jansen

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Re: People on your mailing list who have never read any of your books
« Reply #11 on: March 17, 2017, 02:20:24 PM »
Don't we all want that? The magical engaged subscribers, who are, and will always be, magically engaged and waiting for every word we say?

Truth is, every audience, no matter how engaged, has a natural decay. Internet marketers say it's about 20% per year per list. For comparison, how many of the same bands you're still listening to as you did five years ago, or even last year? How many of the same shows do you still watch? How many of the same actors do you still like? Now apply that to a group of even the most engaged fans. There is natural decay, always. Therefore, as your list grows, it will have more inactive people. Are those people no longer fans? Who knows? They might just buy your books as soon as the email comes in (without opening it) and might not have the inclination to constantly gush to you about it (having done the gushing thing already a few months back).

I'm surprised no one calls this the honeymoon effect, because that's what I call it. But after the honeymoon is over and you're done gushing about your husband, does it mean you ditch him?

Offline Felicia Beasley

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Re: People on your mailing list who have never read any of your books
« Reply #12 on: March 17, 2017, 02:49:57 PM »
OK, first up, you will get 80-90% of your responses to an email within 24 hours. The rest will trickle in over the next few days. Leave the survey up for week and you'll have all the responses you're going to get, ever.

Secondly, 1000 is a small list. If you have done one competition giveaway, the giveaway peeps will take up a really prominent part of it.

Thirdly, it really depends on how you got them on your list, and which giveaway you used. I use giveaways a lot, but your own giveaways and the cross-promotion giveaways with other authors far outperform anything else you will get. Some of the commercial giveaway places I would actively warn against.

Fourth, if you give away a book in exchange for an email address, whether you do this over a long time or as part of an organised giveaway, you acquire the right to try to convince those people into reading your books. That's it. They're not your fans. You can make them your fans.

Fifth, by far the biggest wrong assumption I see people making all the time is that they assume that the people who are on their mailing list--whether from giveaways *or* organic--have read all their books. They usually haven't. If they're organic signups, they may have read one series. It's up to you to convince them to read the rest.

Sixth, when they sign up, those peeps aren't yours yet. You have to turn them into fans by offering them ARCs, by offering them sneak peeks, cover reveals etc. Ask them to help name a character. Make them invested and ask them questions.

Seventh, turning them into fans, weeding out non-openers, getting them to buy, takes TIME. They may need to see a number of emails from you before they finally decide to buy.

Eight, if you worry about non-engaged peeps on your list and your list is only small (like, less than 10k) and you're worried about this because of cost, you're with the wrong email provider.

If done well, you can develop your list into your own little Bookbub, and you will hardly have to spend any extra money advertising except for 1. constantly acquiring new emails and 2. the cost of having them there. In my case, this is about $40/month for email acquisition through Instafreebie and joint author promotions (the ones where you all toss in $10 for a Kindle and share the addresses), and $500 per year for Mailerlite up to 30k addresses and 235 Euros (sorry, non-European here, don't know how to do the Euro sign) for Sendyhosting.

I buy Bookbub when they'll have me, but I'm doing a promo for a new release with the likes of Bargain Booksy, ENT etc. and IMO it's barely worth spending money on those anymore because the response I get from my own list is so much better. So I consider the costs in the above paragraph an alternative to spending on ads. As a bonus, I get to keep the addresses and can advertise to them whenever I like without having to pay for it again.

Patty is spot on. I would listen to her. She knows what she's talking about.

What are you doing to engage your subscribers? Do you only announce new releases? Do you promote other people's books? Promote giveaways? Talk about yourself? Talk about your books?

My goal is also to engage my list but the reason why people subscribe will be different based on how they got on your list in the first place. Most of my subs are from Instafreebie. Going by the amount of them that either always click the re-download of my freebie that I include in my welcome email or rejoin my list by re-downloading the freebie from Instafreebie, many don't read it. They engage and click when I promote other authors/giveaways. So when I send an email to them, I make sure I include the fact that there is a giveaway or sale or something like that in the subject line. That gets them to open. Once they open, I have a couple of paragraphs to engage them about me and my stuff before they scroll down to what they opened for in the first place.

I do this mostly by trying to entice them to want to read one of my stories, specifically the free one. I offer ARCs for upcoming books. I try to get them to engage with me without having to spend money.

I've gotten some of my biggest fans so far through Instafreebie. My book that just released last week has 33 reviews. I got all my ARC readers for that book from Instafreebie and a posting for free review copies in a Facebook group. All of my emails (I send out weekly after they get through the automation sequence, which is also weekly) has each of my books linked with the cover at the bottom of the email. In the body, I do snippets ending in cliffhangers, character interviews, graphics with quotes, etc. I've seen an increase in engagement when I let my personality show. My first *many* emails were stiff because I was too formal and uncomfortable.

One thing I would suggest that I'm just now implementing is keeping separate lists based on how the subscriber subscribed and when you send an email, customize it toward that audience. Depending on what service you use, you can tag or track subscriber actions in your emails and customize even further.

Even subs who never buy from you can be utilized. You just have to figure out how to do so. One good way is through giveaways. They won't buy your books but they may enter your giveaway and share with all their friends. Could get a fan or two through that.

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Re: People on your mailing list who have never read any of your books
« Reply #13 on: March 17, 2017, 04:55:39 PM »
[quote author=Patty Jansen link=topic=248648.msg3464672#msg3464672 date=1489782312
and $500 per year for Mailerlite up to 30k addresses and 235 Euros (sorry, non-European here, don't know how to do the Euro sign) for Sendyhosting.
[/quote]

Hi Patty,

What are you using the Sendyhosting for if you're already using Mailerlite.


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Offline 5ngela

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Re: People on your mailing list who have never read any of your books
« Reply #14 on: March 19, 2017, 08:46:53 AM »
Personally as reader before I choose to subscribe, I make sure that I like their book. It was too much for me to subscribe to author newsletter without ever reading his/her book. But that's just me. 

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Re: People on your mailing list who have never read any of your books
« Reply #15 on: March 20, 2017, 08:59:57 AM »
Quote
I'm not expecting everyone who signs up to read all of my books, but what is your goal for being on an author's mailing list if you aren't interested in their books? That's what boggles me. It's like ordering an ice cream sundae, but you're lactose intolerant.

First of all, I'd second everything that Patty Jensen has said.

And then:
There could be a ton of reasons why someone signs up, but then doesn't buy. They may well be interested in your books, but just not yet ready to take the next step and buy one. Perhaps they already have a huge list of books to read, perhaps they're not yet persuaded by your copy, or perhaps they don't have the time to click on the link. Or, as Patty says, perhaps they were interested at one point, but haven't got round to unsubscribing from your list. (I know that I should unsubscribe from some authors' lists, but I forget, then delete the next time I see an email from them...)

Quote
But I would rather have 5 engaged subscribers than a thousand non-engaged ones and I feel like I'm talking to an empty room whenever I send a newsletter.

Great point about the empty room syndrome! But you might be surprised at how many people are reading your newsletter - but just not replying. I often get emails from people who I know have been on my list for a while, and then all of a sudden, something strikes a chord and they get in touch. Do you ask questions in your newsletters, sound out your readers, try to pull them into your books, characters, story lines, etc?
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Offline Marie Long

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Re: People on your mailing list who have never read any of your books
« Reply #16 on: March 21, 2017, 05:04:00 AM »
Patty is spot on. I would listen to her. She knows what she's talking about.

What are you doing to engage your subscribers? Do you only announce new releases? Do you promote other people's books? Promote giveaways? Talk about yourself? Talk about your books?

My goal is also to engage my list but the reason why people subscribe will be different based on how they got on your list in the first place. Most of my subs are from Instafreebie. Going by the amount of them that either always click the re-download of my freebie that I include in my welcome email or rejoin my list by re-downloading the freebie from Instafreebie, many don't read it. They engage and click when I promote other authors/giveaways. So when I send an email to them, I make sure I include the fact that there is a giveaway or sale or something like that in the subject line. That gets them to open. Once they open, I have a couple of paragraphs to engage them about me and my stuff before they scroll down to what they opened for in the first place.

I do this mostly by trying to entice them to want to read one of my stories, specifically the free one. I offer ARCs for upcoming books. I try to get them to engage with me without having to spend money.

I've gotten some of my biggest fans so far through Instafreebie. My book that just released last week has 33 reviews. I got all my ARC readers for that book from Instafreebie and a posting for free review copies in a Facebook group. All of my emails (I send out weekly after they get through the automation sequence, which is also weekly) has each of my books linked with the cover at the bottom of the email. In the body, I do snippets ending in cliffhangers, character interviews, graphics with quotes, etc. I've seen an increase in engagement when I let my personality show. My first *many* emails were stiff because I was too formal and uncomfortable.

One thing I would suggest that I'm just now implementing is keeping separate lists based on how the subscriber subscribed and when you send an email, customize it toward that audience. Depending on what service you use, you can tag or track subscriber actions in your emails and customize even further.

Even subs who never buy from you can be utilized. You just have to figure out how to do so. One good way is through giveaways. They won't buy your books but they may enter your giveaway and share with all their friends. Could get a fan or two through that.

I do promote other people's new releases in every newsletter I send out. Usually I try to find books that are related to the books I write. According to my click map, most, if not all of the people who open the newsletter click on those books, so that's why I keep it there.

It seems like it's been a wasted effort for me (time and money) doing free promos of one of my books. I had a Bookbub and everything. I did not see much of a ROI on it in the long run. Very little sell-through and very little mailing list subscribers. I did my taxes this year and found that I was thousands of dollars in the hole as a result. I don't think free works for me like it works for everyone else. I had done an ARC sign-up at one point and got zero people interested. I was even offering to mail signed physical ARCs, if people preferred. So I had to resort to soliciting some ARC readers through Goodreads groups instead of my own mailing list subscribers (even that was like pulling teeth).

I have a short story I will throw up for people who sign up, and I will see if that does anything, but I'm still trying to figure out what my readers want from me. I can't afford to constantly give out free stuff as much as I did these past few years, though...

Offline Marie Long

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    • Marie Long, Romance Author
Re: People on your mailing list who have never read any of your books
« Reply #17 on: March 21, 2017, 05:09:35 AM »
Great point about the empty room syndrome! But you might be surprised at how many people are reading your newsletter - but just not replying. I often get emails from people who I know have been on my list for a while, and then all of a sudden, something strikes a chord and they get in touch. Do you ask questions in your newsletters, sound out your readers, try to pull them into your books, characters, story lines, etc?

I've gotten a few responses in the past to people claiming the small prizes I'd give away (like bookmarks, coasters, etc.) I try to keep the conversation going when they do email me to get it on a more personal level, but I only get that one email and that's it, so I leave them alone. I honestly don't think I've gotten responses to anything else. I've asked questions about some of their favorite recipes they want to share, and some other things to make it a little more personal, but it's just crickets.

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